When I tell people I’m a cartographer they often question whether anyone still uses print maps. Although many people have smartphones and use pdf maps or gps apps, not everyone has one.
For everyday use I have a couple of map apps on my phone with offline areas downloaded so I don’t use too much data, but I also have a road atlas in my car. I don’t rely on my gps app to provide me with directions, rather I use it to tell me where I am and as a reminder of turns coming up when I am driving in an unfamiliar area. I use print maps to figure out my own route.
For travel I download a pdf map that’s georeferenced (from avenzamaps.com) so I can use gps location on my mobile device in case I get hopelessly lost, since I like wandering aimlessly and enjoying my surroundings in a new city. I can also look at the map on my mobile device without standing out like a tourist.
But I always try to get a print map as well. I find it easier to see the big picture and since I walk everywhere it gives me an idea of how long the walk will be. I unfold the tourist print map and plan a walking route that takes me past interesting sights and tourist attractions.
Another perk of using a print map is that locals will often offer to help: in Athens, standing on a corner looking at a map and trying to figure out which way to go, a motorcyclist drove up to us and asked if we needed help. This happened a few times: sometimes the motorcyclist rode right up to us on the sidewalk! This is a great way to meet people and get advice from locals. People often go out of their way to help.
On a recent trip to Rome I enjoyed wandering through Mercato delle Stampe (an antique book and map market). I wonder if bibliophiles and cartophiles (people who like maps) are the same people. I love books and I love maps.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have maps hanging in my house and I have a large library, including some books of maps – I may have a problem 😉
Do you use print maps? How do you use them? Maybe you collect them as souvenirs or buy beautiful maps as artwork.