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!
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.