Paper Maps Are Better

On our way home from the Virginia Beach area, my husband suggested we take the rural route, using the east-west Highway 58.

"That's a good idea, I said. Let's stop and get a map." Unfortunately, we didn't have one in the car,

"We don't need a map, he said. We'll follow the GPS on google."

"No, I want to see the entire route on the map," I said. He didn't argue with me because he knows how much I like maps.

On our way home from the Virginia Beach area, my husband suggested we take the rural route, using the east-west Highway 58. “That’s a good idea, I said. Let’s stop and get a map.” Unfortunately, we didn’t have one in the car, “We don’t need a map, he said. We’ll follow the GPS on google.” “No, I want to see...

We drove into the next truck stop. I looked around but didn't see the maps, so I asked the clerk where they were.

Before she had time to answer, a man standing in line said, "You can just google where you want to go." I smiled and looked at the young woman behind the counter.

She looked at me puzzled and said, "Map? I don't think we have a map. Most people just use google on their phone."

I reminded her that truckstops usually carry maps, and she came around to look. After a moment, we saw a few on a stand in the corner. "Oh, she said, I didn't know we still carried paper maps."

"You don't seem to have a Virginia map, I said. She said she would check in the back. As she walked away, another man standing in line smiled curiously at me and said, "Maam, you can always use google maps on your phone."

" I know, I said, but I want a paper map." He shrugged and continued through the checkout.

When the clerk returned, she said sorry they had no Virginia maps.

Then, as I started to turn around yet, another man, who had been observing my quest to find a paper map, said, "I use google maps." I looked at him, feeling a little irritated at this point, but before I could reply, he said, "But I like paper maps, too."

I drove for a while longer until I saw a more prominent truck stop and turned in. When I walked in, I saw a rack of maps and atlases. I asked the same question about having a Virginia map. She said no, but pointed to an atlas.

Before she had time to tell me I could google my route, I handed her the money for the atlas and went into the cafeteria adjoining the truck stop.

Sitting down at a table, I opened the map and just looked. I like looking at the lines, the surrounding towns and parks, the rivers, mountains, and roads that connect endlessly with each other.

I feel safe with a paper map. When I see the entire route on paper, I feel confident I know where I'm going. I can mark out my preferred route and circle landmarks we might be interested in along the way.

I use my GPS when trying to navigate in small places, but I prefer a paper map on long trips.

Paper maps don't run out of battery power. And, there are places where the GPS signal doesn't work, or the routing is ridiculous. For example, suppose I decide to stop or go another way; then the rerouting voice drives me crazy.

When we constantly use smartphone apps for information and navigation, we can become too dependent on technology without understanding the tangible world around us.

It is like being told where to go or what to do without being told the why.

I'm not the only person who still prefers paper maps. According to the NPD BookScan, the sale of paper maps and atlases has had a five-year compound annual growth rate of 10%. In 2019, the travel maps and atlases category sold 666,000 units, with year-over-year sales up 7%.

When we traveled with our children, it was like a scavenger hunt as we opened the map and showed them where we were, where we were going, and how we would get there.

And it helped when they would ask the age-old question: "Are we there yet?"

We encouraged them to follow the lines on the map with all the tiny dots for towns we had to pass through before we reached our destination. Thus, they could see the entire trip from one point to another and how much further we had to go.

I felt so content sitting there looking at the map with my pen marking the places I might want to stop at along the way when I realized a man and his young son were looking at me. I looked up and smiled.

"Where you headed, the man asked?" "Home," I said.

"Where's that," he asked? "Marion, Virginia, I said. We're going across Highway 58," I said.

He looked puzzled for a moment and then said, You know you can just google it. It will take you right to your driveway."

Author's Image
Deana Landers
Author for

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

[Read full bio]

Story Comments

  1. I totally agree with you, Deana. Paper maps are the best. When we go on long road trips we'll always use a real map. I love how it goes from neatly folded and pristine to bedraggled and worn by the end of the journey and the feeling of flicking it open on the dashboard to check the route. It's all part of the fun.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Michelle, Deana

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Michelle. I like that it becomes bedraggles and worn at the end of the trip.Hugs,Deana

  2. Libbie -

    What a lovely way to take a trip. I think I will surprise my hubby on our next road trip with a new map. He would love it! xx

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Libbie. I think your husband would be surprised and pleased for you to surprise him with a paper map.Deana

  3. Kat -

    We always have an Atlas and usually a map or two in the car. I thought I was just weird, because I'm a mapper and not a GPSer. Now that I know, my favorite writer uses one........ I'm not weird at all😀😀😀

    • Deana Landers -

      Love you, Kat. Thank you.Hugs

    • Deana Landers -

      That is sweet, Kat! We are a lot alike in so many ways my dear niece. I love you.Aunty

  4. Great story and you are so right GPS has so many issues you do need a paper map. The GPS runs your phone down so quickly and who really carries a phone charger in the car. Not me. lol

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Anita. Deana

  5. Ann Barnes -

    I had 4 atlas in my car. When I worked and traveled I marked every place I had to stop. It was fun to see all the places I have been over a 11 year time . I saw a movie where a high school girl was lost for seven days before someone found her. Cell phone dead no food no water so I do not google .

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Ann, that is a great reason to rely more on paper maps than google. Paper maps don't need cell service.Love you,Deana

  6. Harriett Hitchcock -

    Deana, I love paper maps too. My dad showed me years ago how to read a map and it wasso much fun to follow the road and look for the next town. Before the Interstate highways,travel was a real adventure.

    • Deana Landers -

      It's so nice to hear from you, Harriett. Thank you. I think we all need a paper map in our car:)Deana

  7. I still love paper paper maps, but I normally use GPS. xo Laura

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Laura. I use our GPS a lot, too, but I think we all need a paper map in our car, just in case:)Deana

  8. We don't have data on our phones (appalling, I know :) ). I'm just like you and have to have a paper map. It's saved us many a time when out GPS has us going in circles. I'd never travel without one!

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Sara. You are right! I use our GPS a lot, too, but I think we all need a paper map in our car, just in case:)Deana

Leave a Comment