It’s always tedious when you need to get directions. Perhaps you got lost somewhere while driving. Maybe you suddenly need to go somewhere you didn’t expect to go.

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to be capable of getting directions and getting them easily.

The prevalence of GPS systems has made it easier than ever to get wherever you need to go. But there’s plenty of times when it’s not reasonable to expect the convenience. A dead phone or an older model car isn’t going to have the ease of a GPS system for directions. It’s good to know how to get good directions to keep you on the road and heading in the right direction.  

Common Online Directions

A lot of different websites and online locations have broken into the marketplace offering directions and maps for people to use. So which one should people use?

  • Google Maps - Who would have guessed that a Google product would take the world by storm. Right now, Google Maps is the most commonly used map software
  • Bing Maps - Microsoft will continue to push their competitor for Google Maps and offers essentially the same services and features. It just comes down to which interface you prefer.
  • MapQuest - This was one of the originators in the field and is still around and available today. MapQuest is excellent with live traffic updates to keep people from avoiding those serious traffic jams.
  • Rand McNally - A company that used to make road maps is a natural for the online world. Rand McNally specializes in street addresses and directions. This makes them perfect for people just trying to find a new place.

Taking Down Directions Manually

While many people use a GPS, there are still holdouts who don’t believe in them. These people tend to still write their directions down. This is great, except that the directions become difficult to use while actually driving somewhere.

There are ways to write down directions that are driver friendly however. Ensure that each stage is clearly spaced out, so that it’s obvious which step of the directions the driver is on. If possible, stick to identical formatting with each step. Only use one side of a piece of paper for directions. Then as each direction is completed, fold that section over, so that it is no longer visible. This will always keep the most pertinent step of directions clearly visible to the driver.

Tips for Getting Directions from People

It’s common when lost to ask a person for directions. It’s also common to get just awful directions based around landmarks like “the really red house” leaving you wondering “how red is it to be really red?”.

When speaking with people and getting directions via the phone or in person, there are some simple tips that will assist the person in getting you where you need to go.

  • Shorten the Trip - If you know of a location near to the destination, get directions from that location. It can be much easier for the person giving them. It’s possible you may drive a little bit extra, but you’ll definitely get where you’re going.
  • Cardinal Directions Help - Rather than hearing “turn left” at an intersection, “turn left and head north” is something that can be far more useful. It gives you a general idea if you are heading the right directions.
  • Clarity is Key - When someone gives directions with instructions like “go 4 intersections past ….” It’s good to know what they consider an intersection. Does it have traffic lights? Stop signs? Is every small side street on only one side of the street an intersection? Clarity is a big thing.