Getting lost is the most awful feeling and it's amplified when you are travelling solo. But I've been there, done that, and now I have the solution.
Flashback: Perast, Montenegro, 2017
Away for 4 weeks, carrying 5 kilos, that's 1 crazy lady!
Yep, that was how I was feeling as I embarked on my solo trip in Croatia and Italy! Excitedly nervous 😬
And it was about 30 minutes after this photo was taken that all my insecurities came crashing down on me.
I was on a day trip from Dubrovnik into Montenegro. We had stopped at this little village of Perast and had the option of going over to a church on the lake or wandering into town. I decided to go wandering, while everyone else went to the church. The plan was to meet back at the bus at 12.30. So we had 1 and a half hours to explore.
It was gorgeous. The style of architecture I had never seen before, flowers and vines growing over buildings and walls, stunning mountains and water. But alas, it was time to return to the bus, so I headed back to where I thought I left the bus.
The bus? Where the hell is the bus?
Day 3 on my great solo adventure and I can't find the bleeping bus. Panic is setting in.
Being lost is a terrifying feeling...
I keep walking, praying for the bus to appear. I don't recognise anyone off the bus amongst all the tourists. Everything is the same, flowers, vines, buildings, sea, mountains.... OMG everything's identical.
It's now 12.45 and I'm imagining being in a country with just a day visa. All of a sudden everything looked the same. Was this the bus stop? Or was it around the corner?
Now this was a typical example of me travelling with my husband. I'd get off the bus, plane, train, car and follow the leader. I would take no notice of my surroundings, half listen to instructions, and wander aimlessly, knowing that someone (you know who!) would always be there to put me back on the right path...except this time he wasn't here!!
Fortunately the tour guide is clearly used to such behaviour and comes jogging along to find me and reunite me with the group waiting patiently for me so they could call the bus driver to come into the pick up area. I was sincerely apologetic to the group, but they were just relieved it wasn't them that got lost! (Aren't fellow tourists the best?)
Much relieved to be reunited, this was my first lesson on needing to use the Maps.me app. This app became my life-saver. (I have no affiliation with Maps.me).
A lifesaving app...
Maps.me is a really easy app to use where you can plan your route, check the elevation of a walk/hike, calculate how long it will take to get there. You can bookmark a place, drop off point, favourite coffee place etc. and find your way back. I even use it for carparks when I'm home!
This bookmarking ability of Maps.me was my saving grace many times while travelling. And when you travel solo you need apps like this. For me it was a piece of my security armour!
I would recommend that you download your area maps that you'll be going to before you leave home. If you are travelling on wi-fi or relying on Airbnb/hostel data downloading the maps could take a lot of time and a lot of data!
BUT... in this story I had done none of the above. So, it was all very well having this great app but I had not applied it in practise!
So, while I'm smiling away in the top photo, oblivious to the panic about to set in, it was a challenge that I got through with my mantra "I can do this".
I learnt my lesson!
So after this slight panicked moment/incident, I went on to have an absolutely brilliant day trip. This picture is high above Kotor. Absolutely stunning scenery, and worth spending more than a day in this amazing country!