The art of getting lost

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exc-556fd80be4b09542ce8b64e4 People say when you travel, you should get lost – get lost in the streets, get lost in the culture, get lost in the crowds. To get lost, is to live the local life.

Today it’s becoming more and more difficult to get lost. With new age technologies coming up with convenient ways to stay online while being offline – with offline Google maps, Uber in every metropolitan city and Facebook friends a mere click away, what does it really mean to get lost?

My recent travel bud told me a story of her father hitchhiking his way around the world in the 70s. He doesn’t really speak of it now, but she knows he spent a year, lost. This is before access to the Internet, before mobile phones, when a crumpled map was your only savour. Before travel blogs and Lonely Planet! We gasped at the idea of travelling – let alone hitchhiking – without our 21st-century comforts. But did hip-hitchhiking-70s-dad have a more authentic and real experience of the countries he visited than we ever could?

To me, to be lost, is to discover.

During my time in Venice, I was travelling alone. I was young and naive, I could hardly read a map. It was just me, my camera, a pen and paper, and a crumbled tourist map my hostel had offered me. While exploring the city one day, becoming more and more consumed in the beauty of it all, I suddenly found myself somewhere quiet. It no longer felt like Venice. There wasn’t a person to be seen and the houses suddenly seemed poorer, almost derelict. Instead of gondolas, there were run down fishing boats, with piles of nets and baskets laying within them. The streets were dusty, or dirty, I can’t quite remember. But I do remember suddenly feeling uneasy. I did, what any lost solo traveller would do – I reached for my map.

After scouring the map, I could only guess I was somewhere off it. In unmapped territories! Unsure how to retrace my footsteps, I just kept walking. Hoping I would bump into someone, or a familiar street sign. After continuing to walk I found myself back where I started. Only I was on the opposite side of the canal.

From then on, I’ve trusted my instincts. I’ve learned to not let fear take over, bust mostly, I’ve learned the beauty in getting lost. Lost like our adventure-seeking fathers and mothers before us. Lost without technology to guide us home. Lost without direction. Lost to discover.

Tell me, what does getting lost mean to you?