GPS Luddite

Posted: December 2023

I am a GPS Luddite

If you know me well, you will have likely noticed that I seldom use GPS when driving. Most people when they need to get somewhere punch their destination into their map app of choice. Not me. Usually when I need to get somewhere I know well in advance and can plan my journey in advance.

>Before I try to explain why I think I do this, I'll give you an example of how I like to do things. I went to a christmas party a year ago that was happening way out in the suburbs. I preplanned it by drawing a crude map in my pocket notebook and labeling it with a few street names and the highway exit number. My shotgun passenger didn't believe I wouldn't get lost so she pulled her own GPS. To everyone's surprise (except mine), we made it without getting lost.

Fully Analog Road Trip

I went on a road trip in May with two friends. When I first bought a paper road map (a few years ago), I found that my province was selling the last year's road map for free. These two friends are similar to me and when I found this deal, I let them know about it, and they "bought" copies of their own. So the car we were in for our road trip had a (more worn than mine) road map in it, and we used that. For the whole trip.

This was the first road trip I went on without my family and it was great. Not having a GPS running meant that our route was certainly not the fastest one. On a road trip, the goal isn't to get to your destination as soon as possible, it's to enjoy the journey. And we did just that (haven't you seen Cars 1?). We ended up driving through a fantastic provincial park. We may be the first people to have ever tuned the radio to the informational station for a provincial park - from that we learned that in the spring deer like the water near highways because road salt runoff.

Why do I do this to myself?

There is a great article from Art of Manliness 7 Reasons You Should Still Keep a Paper Map in Your Glovebox, that lists good reasons like being less distracted when driving and other reasons of efficiency. One reason they don't mention that may be my personal reason would be independence. It feels really empowering to navigate somewhere without a gps. Preplanning your route on google maps at home and relying on intuition while you drive feels powerful. Ironically, I suppose you have less power because you are more at the mercy of traffic, and more likely to miss signs and turns.

I think there is something innate about men where they feel most powerful or feel like they're achieving adventure when just on the outside of their comfort zone. In that way maybe it's also psychological. I would be really interested to hear from anyone else who tends to operate in a way similar to me. Of course, I'm not always as much of a luddite about this as I let on. When I need to get somewhere with very little notice or somewhere downtown, I'm not opposed to pulling out my own map app, but I try to use it attentivley and sparingly.