All we had was a crinkled hand drawn paper map from the motorbike rental shop in Coron. Our destination, a remote beach close to Barangay Marcilla, was marked with an X and what appeared to be like an easy ten minute drive, turned out into a never ending odyssey. An odyssey which took us along winding, steep and rocky tracks and curve after curve farther away from the safe haven of Coron. With gas running low and no more people crossing our paths, we seemed lost in the middle of nowhere…
Most people don’t like to be lost. It makes us feel vulnerable, helpless and leaves us with a lot of challenges. However, getting lost has become a rare phenomenon these days. Everything is so well organized, information about even the remotest places are just a click away and navigational systems are pre-installed in our cars and on our smartphones. It seems like ages ago when we still used paper maps to find our way, asked locals for the right way and went exploring on our own, not already knowing what to expect.
“I like the sense of being totally cut off from the predictable world of my everyday life, immersed in the strangeness of the new.” Jeff Wise
Before we go anywhere nowadays, we usually already know the map, the sights, the restaurants and bars, the museums and generally what to expect. Whereas it is sure good to know how to do so, it sometimes feels like cheating. Isn’t traveling also about adventure, about exploring new places, immersing in a totally new environment and getting away from the routine of our normal everyday lives?
Getting lost throws us out of our comfort zones immediately. It challenges ourselves, forces us to deal with new situations and it makes us learn more about ourselves. Getting lost can for sure be annoying, but when traveling, it can also be an unique opportunity.
Getting lost can be empowering and teaching us new skills
While getting lost, especially in a foreign place, can be scary thing, you should look at it as an opportunity to hone new and already forgotten skills. Learn how to navigate with a map, interact with locals or other travelers to get information, practice your orientation without electronic aids, learn to stay calm and find your way back to the right track by yourself. It will make you feel good about yourself, provide you with more self-confidence and also prepare you for similar situations. And if you finally reach your final destination, it will be all the more rewarding.
Getting lost trains your awareness
When we stick to a detailed itinerary, traveling with a bigger group, we just go with the flow. We check sight after sight off our list, barely see what’s to our right and left and tend to ignore our environment.
But once you get lost, you instantly become aware of your surroundings. We start to focus much more on the world around us, what we see and what we hear. We pay attention to distinctive landmarks and places which we would have otherwise surely missed.
Getting lost as a source for adventures
It again all starts with regarding being lost as an opportunity. Accept it and try to make the best of it. If you are lost in a city, walk around a bit and see what’s there. If you are by motorbike, just continue going down that road. You might find a remote village, hardly ever visited by tourists or a hidden gem like a waterfall or a beach. Only because a place is not mentioned in the Lonely Planet doesn’t mean that it is not worth checking out. In the end, you can always backtrack and find your way back. But who knows, adventure might just wait around the next corner. Why not go and see?
Getting lost makes for great travel tales
The best stories are not the ones where you were lying on a beach or partying the night away on that one famous island. No, it is the stories about mishap and how you managed to get over it. While being lost may not seem very enjoyable at the time, these events make for more interesting and exciting stories in the near future. I don’t find myself talking about my Coron island hopping tour all too often. However, the story about my odyssey of finding that hidden beach near Barangay Marcilla or how I got lost in the jungle of Taman Negara are way more interesting tales to tell.
… we were actually lost. With no one around to ask, we had to decide whether to turn around or take our chances. But we had come this far, we just didn’t want to give up and so we decided to do the latter. After more driving in uncertainty we finally made to Marcilla, a tiny village on the shore of Busuanga Island. After refueling and a little chatting, the locals pointed us to the nearby beach. As we set foot on this lost paradise, we knew we had done everything right. The setting sun painting the scenery with its golden glow, small waves gently touching the bright yellow beach lined by lush green trees was our reward for enduring those moments of uncertainty and doubts. A story which we will never forget.
Getting lost is not just about losing your way. It is about losing yourself. Losing yourself in new experiences, approaching places without pre-defined conceptions and expectations and about learning more about yourself. Travel presents us with a chance to break out of our familiar routine and challenges ourselves in a way which would be impossible back home. It’s a source for growth and strength and we should happily welcome it.
So next time you are lost somewhere, see it as chance and opportunity and try to make the most of that opportunity. There are many ways you can actually benefit from it.
What about yourself? Have you ever been lost and how did you handle the situation? Feel free to share your story with us below.