Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Travel Map Musings

Someone wise (I forget who) once observed that "the map is not the territory." This certainly is true: nothing can replace experiencing first-hand the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a foreign land. Nonetheless, maps are essential tools for travelers. Without them, we would be lost. Here are some qualities that I look for in a good travel map.

  1. A thorough index: nothing is worse than having to search endlessly for a small town on a map without an index.
  2. Waterproof and tear-proof paper: a travel map is only as useful as the quality of the paper that it's printed on.
  3. Well known travel destinations clearly marked: this won't make Machu Picchu any easier to get to, but at least I'll be able to find it in a hurry.
  4. Mountains and lowlands easy to see: this way I'll know when to take my altitude-sickness pills.
  5. A useable legend with distances in both kilometres and miles: sometimes I'm metric, and sometimes I'm not.
  6. Easy to fold back up: I don't have time to practice origami when I'm on the road.
  7. Reasonable price: travel journalism is a low-rent occupation.
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