The Joy of Getting Lost - Venice, Italy -

The Joy of Getting Lost

We put a lot of effort into not getting lost in our daily lives. We put even more effort into avoiding it while traveling.  We use the GPS apps on our phones. We take guided tours in foreign cities. We stop and ask for directions at every turn. We make sure to get from one important location to the next, and we take the easiest and the fastest way possible. We don’t even notice the buildings, the scenery, the restaurants, and the people who we’re rushing past. Sometimes, however, we get really, hopelessly lost.

Below, you’ll find two great reasons to enjoy those times when you’re not quite sure where you are and two of our favorite stories about what we’ve discovered when we’ve been lost. We hope they’ll inspire you to be both curious and calm when you can’t find your destination. Maybe they’ll even inspire you to put away the map and get intentionally lost!

Live like a local.

My husband and I honeymooned in Italy, and we were lucky enough to spend 5 days in Venice, far more than the typical tourist schedule of a quick day trip. We had just spent the last week and a half in Florence and Rome, checking off those must-see museums and historic sites. By the time we arrived in Venice, we were ready for a change of pace.

I know what you’re thinking. Venice is full to the brim with tourists! How could we possibly find a change of pace or any peace and quiet?

Once we checked into our darling bed and breakfast, which was wonderfully located away from the crowds on a quiet street and quiet canal, we made our way out into the city. Unlike every other tourist we met, though, we weren’t headed to the Rialto Bridge or the Piazza de San Marco. We weren’t even headed to Lido or the Guggenheim, Murano or Burano. We decided to just wander along through the alleys with no map in hand. We discovered empty streets that ended at canals lined with archways and window boxes overflowing with flowers. We found great bars where we enjoyed an aperol spritz and a gelato. We ate dinner in a great restaurant, and we honest to goodness didn’t hear anyone else speaking English. We watched beautiful boats pass singing gondoliers. We sat along the canal and watched daily life pass us by. We saw Venice, but we saw it without the rest of the summer crowds jostling past us.

Don’t worry. We had more than enough time to see everything that one goes to Venice to see. We even took time for a Vivaldi concert. That first day in Venice, however, was one of the best days of our trip.

Discover some place unexpected.

It’s one thing to set out with the intention of getting lost. Well, as lost as one can get on a small cluster of islands. It’s another thing altogether to have a limited amount of time and not be able to find the destination that you’re most excited about. This is what happened to my husband and I while we were in London.

To add to the stress of not being able to find the British Museum, we were chaperoning nine of his high school students on their first trip abroad. It was not an easy feat. You might be thinking, “How hard can it be to find one of the most popular museums in the world?!?” I would have agreed with you prior to our attempt to get there from whatever random spot we were dropped off at, but we were given wrong directions twice, and someone even said, “I don’t know which museum you’re talking about; they’re all British,” and he MEANT it. Yes, thank you very much. (I should note that we landed a few hours earlier, and neither my husband nor myself were at the top of our travel game because, as I mentioned, we were dragging nine exhausted teenagers behind us.)

This ended up being a great learning lesson for our students. We helped them step out of their comfort zone and ask for directions, and we also talked to them about how to stay optimistic and not get scared when things go wrong. But do you know what the best part of our extra long walk to the museum was? Just when our students said “we have no idea where we are,” we looked up to see a street sign. We were on Drury Lane! Yes, DRURY LANE where the MUFFIN MAN lives! It was the best detour ever!

The Joy of Getting Lost - London, England -

So there you have it: some of our favorite stories from getting lost abroad. Do you have any similar stories? We’d love to hear about them! Tell us your favorite stories about getting lost in the comment section.



Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

0 thoughts on “The Joy of Getting Lost

  1. arblank says:

    When I first moved to Paris getting lost became a regular occurrence for me. I eventually learned to enjoy it (as long as I’m not on a schedule) and now I know longer get stressed when lost in a new city and even enjoy going for random strolls when visiting a new place. Really liked the post, and found I agree with a lot of what you have to say about getting lost and exploring.

    • Meagan: A Friend Afar says:

      That’s great to hear! I agree, when not on a schedule, it’s so great taking random strolls along the back streets. You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet!

  2. Kim (@silentlyfree) says:

    Hmm I have mixed feelings about getting lost. As you mention, even if you plan to get somewhere, you’re bound to get lost at one point or another. I think it really depends on the time frame you have. For example, you and your husband had five days in Venice. I basically had half a day and I probably would have regretted it if I hadn’t seen the Rialto Bridge. In fact, I still regret that I wasn’t able to see Murano and Burano a year later. If I did have five days in Venice then I probably wouldn’t have any qualms about wandering about exploring freely, but on a short time budget? Let’s just say I wouldn’t be a happy camper!

    • Meagan: A Friend Afar says:

      That’s a very good point, Kim! That sounds like the time I had in London. We had about 3 free hours with our students, so getting lost was pretty frustrating since it took time away from our destination. It was so great finding that little street because it made us laugh so hard and relieved all of the stress we were feeling from not finding our destination.

  3. Kerry says:

    I’m all for even getting a little lost wherever you are. Sometimes taking a different turn on your way home is so much fun! I love discovering things off the beaten path, so I often find myself encouraging people to drive off the interstate on road trips. There’s always something “new” to see. I’ve discovered state parks I’ve never heard of before, beautiful homes, and even the free library TARDIS in Macon.

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