Getting Lost. Why it isn’t all that bad.

Getting lost when traveling

Getting lost can be an opportunity. Find out why …

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.

Whitehaven Beach

Getting lost can be an opportunity. Whitehaven Beach – Australia.

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.

Finding our way to Brgy Marcilly and the secret beach. Coron, The Philippines.

Finding our way to Brgy Marcilla and the secret beach. With a paper map. Around Coron – The Philippines.

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.

Mae Hong Song Dawn

Becoming aware and sharpening your senses. Mae Hong Song – Thailand.

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?

Myanmar and Vietnam

Adventure might just be around the corner. Go and have a look! Myanmar and Vietnam.

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.

Taman Negara, Malaysia

Lost in the jungle of Taman Negara – Malaysia.

Last thoughts…

… 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.

Marcilla Beach

The beach close to Barangay Marcilla. We made it!

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.

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Categories: Inspiration, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “Getting Lost. Why it isn’t all that bad.

  1. It is in getting lost that we learn life’s important lessons! 🙂 Thanks for this wonderful article, Pipoy!

  2. A very good article! i can very much relate to it. I was able to experience “getting lost” when I was in Hongkong with friends. It was a very fulfilling experience because we were able to learn another route. I also visited Coron last 2006, just went island hopping to Cayangan Lake, Maquinit hotspring, Malcapuya..not as adventurous as you are…getting lost in the woods…hehehe. take care. More power!

    • Hi Ilana, good to hear about your adventure in HongKong, a place I haven’t been to yet. I bet Coron has changed a lot since you last visit in 2006. Town proper was quite busy when I was there…. load of dive shops, hotels etc. But still a nice flair … liked the place. Cheers

  3. So true, Pipoy! Unfortunately, getting lost is not a rare phenomenon when it comes to myself. I get lost easily, LOL!!!

    • Haha J. .. why is that? Why you getting lost so often? Cheers, Philipp

      • Sadly, I have a whacked sense of direction. I once got to an interview with a future employer, the big boss, two hours late! To think that I had been there once already. I was going to be early, actually, and I kept alert for my landmarks, but for some reason, I missed them and I ended up somewhere I didn’t recognize. Good thing I got the job anyway….Cheers as well to you 🙂

    • Haha, great story and I am happy that it all still worked out for you. You really must have had some striking good arguments speaking for you. Cheers, Phil

  4. Reina C.Castronuevo

    Yup….getting lost is not really a bad thing ;after all…because it teaches you more direction…;)))

  5. I so much find myself in your article! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In Malaysia (somewhere close to Lundu, Borneo) I got seriously lost in the jungle with a friend who was the opposite of being able to work in a team. We were claiming upwards a river bank with sometimes very challenging steep parts and it started getting dark and stormy. The rocks we climbed on turned into horrifying slippery environment and we couldn’t find the way back. I was seriously frighten and was the first time so happy to find the plastic bottle on the path which I before sweard of.

    • Hi Sanji, thanks for sharing your experience here. Good thing you made it back safely hehe. How are you these days? What are you up to?

  6. Aside from having actually gotten lost in Vietnam during what was supposed to be a simple motorbike ride to a nearby ruin, every time I found myself in a new city I intentionally got lost walking around my first afternoon/morning there. I did it to get a feel for the city but also because I’m horrible at navigating so having landmarks made it easy for me to find my hostel when actually lost.

    • HI Susan, getting lost in a new city is a great way to get a feel for it.Just wandering around and seeing what’s there and taking in the atmosphere… I also do that a lot. It’s good just to take a walk without having anywhere to go. I did that for three hours in Saigons old quarter…so interesting. Easy to get lost in that maze hehe

      • Saigon is certainly very easy to get lost in, I lost a few hours wandering in circles myself. I have to say though that the best and most ironic thing about traveling slowly is that you’re already where you wanted to go, yet you don’t really have to go anywhere… you can just decide to waste the day getting lost and not feel like you wasted a day. When you think about it, it’s sort of beautiful in its simplicity. You get where you wanted to be – you don’t do a single thing and it’s still perfect.

  7. Carlos Jr

    Good job Phil! Indeed, getting lost is not a waste of time. I was with friends in Ayutthaya, Thailand last March. We rented bikes and explored the old kingdom and its majestic temples. After having lunch in a restaurant by the Saithong River, we continued exploring. We lost each other along the way, looks like each of us headed to different directions. I couldn’t help but worry especially for one friend who had a motorbike accident the day before while we were on our way back to Kanchanaburi from the Erawan Park. What worried me as well was not being able to catch a trip back to Bangkok since our flight back to Manila will be the following day. I found myself lost yet appreciating the vast historical park, sat under the tree and enjoyed the view. We ended up seeing each other after almost two hours in the Elephant Camp. I guess it was instinct that brought us all back to the same place. We still had time to ride the elephant and take pictures with the temples as backdrop.

    • Wow, great story Carlos. Also because I have also been to all of the places you mentioned here. The historical park is sure a great thing to explore and Erawan Falls was also really pretty…. Thanks for sharing this story of yours here Carlos, really appreciate it

  8. laramuller11

    I usually hate getting lost, because uhm I’m lost. And then when something amazing happens, I love getting lost 😛

    • Hi Lara, I know what you mean. It is either hate it or love it. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy everytime I get lost. I had my moments where I was lost and freaked out about it cuz I just wanted to get where I wanted to go… but sometimes it can make for really nice surprises ….

  9. Getting lost is the best excuse to see new places. 😀 It´s an adventure!

  10. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

    Appreciate it

    • Can’t really suggest anything as the guys from Yahoo have been approaching my. I didn’t reach out myself or anything. Guess you just gitta get noticed … Sorry bro

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