Everyone should know how to navigate with a map, whether in the city or in the bush. Maps don’t rely on electricity or a connection to wifi or cell towers and short of loosing them or being destroyed, they cannot fail you (only your skill with them can).
That being said if you don’t want to stand out as a tourist don’t go walking down the street staring at the unfolded map. This it not only a dead give away that you are not from the area it also takes away from your situational awareness which makes targeting you all the easier. It is better to use them before you depart a location for your next one and if you have to use them along the way find a quite out of the way place that offers some security where you can stop and take a quick look at it.
Maps are also a great practical souvenir. When you are traveling especially in a place you have never been before. Use it to learn the area, mark it up with the important places to know, hospitals, embassies, police stations.
You can also take notes on where you go, an so one to turn the map into a way to keep track of your adventure as well as a useful tool while you’re there.
It may not be advised to mark down where you plan to go as this is an OPSEC violation especially if you are an individual that is more likely to be targeted. If your map is stolen or lost someone targeting you will have a basic idea of where they are likely to find you and set up an ambush or kidnapping.
Both as a tool and souvenir a folded up map will take up very little space. When you are traveling with a single bag your packing space will be limited and this will be important.
Depending on the situation it might be a good idea to plan out escape routes from the area you are in. Whether you’re traveling to a politically unstable region or maybe its just hurricane season. (Good idea to put you map in a ziplock whether its hurricane season or not)
You can mark these on your map as well as different meet up locations should your group get separated. It is a good idea to designate meet up spots in different areas of the city so that no matter where you get separated there should be a location some what close by.
For both Meet up locations and escape route remember P.A.C.E. Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. IT works for comms and it works for this too.
You have to decide how much of these routes and spots you mark up on your map and I would recommend leaving at the minimum the contingency and emergency spot off and commit them to memory. Another method is to use UV pens to mark them on your map although not 100% secure it will stop the average joe Criminal from immediately knowing your locations. I still recommend keeping at least one route and spot off the map.
Pro tip. If you are a targeted individual or super paranoid you can also mark up visible routes that are not accurate and uv ones that are for your knowledge to attempt to throw off anyone who gets their hands on the map.
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