Driving directions.

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#1 28 July, 2014 - 19:04
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Driving directions.


Hey guys. I'm a new driver, and with only a few months of driving experience in my life, I tend to be extremely reliant on GPS. This is a problem, especially when driving alone (I only recently figured that one out!).

I want to try to establish a sense of direction as to where I am. I have the basic directions of my town memorized (mostly only because I would go running and then remember the routes through running), but when I try to memorize a new route before driving I get confused.

For all those experienced drivers and experienced mnemonic(ists), what's important to remember when it comes to driving. I'm sure I could memorize rights and lefts through binary encoding, but should I be aiming for the memorization of street names or what? How do you memorize location via the method of loci?

28 July, 2014 - 20:55
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I'm unusually bad with understanding the layout of a region until I look at a map and copy it by hand into my own simple map. Then I suddenly understand. Drawing a simple map of major roads and features might be worth experimenting with.

I've used a method that Dominic O'Brien talks about in Quantum Memory Power:

I put one step in each location of a memory palace. If I have to turn, I either picture something off to the right or left, or look in that direction. Numbers get turned into images with a number system.

Example directions:

  1. Drive on I-80
  2. Take the Gilman Street exit
  3. Turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp
  4. Turn right on San Pablo
  5. Take a left at University Ave.

Each one of those is one step in a memory palace.
The number 80 for me is a car.
"Gilman" could be a made-up superhero named Gill-Man who is climbing a highway exit sign.
For step #3, picture sliding down a ramp on a skateboard (for example) and turning to the left.
Then turn to the right to go to the next location -- or just look at something to the right when you get to that location.
Etc.

I don't use memory techniques alone when someone is waiting for me, since I've forgotten a step in the middle before, and if someone is waiting, they don't like "I memorized it but then couldn't remember one step in my memory palace" as an excuse for being 30 minutes late. :)

29 July, 2014 - 12:29
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I like the map idea; I could memorize/study all the towns in my district and nearby towns if I ever need to drive somewhere else. That would help establish a general sense of direction when driving as well.

The idea to encode left and right as a direction within the memory palace is a cool one too, I'll have to try that out.

6 December, 2014 - 19:50
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Josh,

While still a beginner with a memory system for numbers and memory palaces, I also make sure that I am using maps with the GPS. But, I try not to rely on these so I can try out my memory palace. One way that I use Left or Right with my journey/memory palace, I have imagined the station/location in a Lavender shade ( Left) and Red ( Right). -- with all the other images placed there.

29 December, 2014 - 14:40
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Oh. That does inspire me actually to think about the system this way. I'll have to try it out if I drive anywhere this vacation.

So to take from your idea, a system I can imagine working is to memorize a route by using a memory palace and memorizing a list of landmarks by the turn. So for example, if you have to turn right immediately before the gas station, you would memorize a red gas station. And if you had to turn left after taking the exit from the highway, you memorize a lavender colored bridge as the item after the exit number.

17 January, 2015 - 17:19
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skiingxmoose,

Thanks for starting this thread. I will also keep up with listing examples from my trips to see how well I associate them with a memory palace.

1 February, 2015 - 07:21
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Looks like I'm a year late for this great and very needed thread,anyways,here goes. I discovered this excellent technique on my own out of desperation one time.I'm not a driver,though. The technique:

step 1: The destination you are traveling to,FIXATE THAT IN your mind and never ever forget it NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW.Its very crucial.

step 2: (The actual technique,really simple) Divide your mind into one of two MODES of direction.
PARALLEL AND PERPENDICULAR.
That is,parallel and perpendicular with respect to THE POINT you are moving to.(its very crucial).

step 3: Keep alternating this mode subconsciously,based on THE ROADS you travel on. And keep telling yourself which mode you are in right now. That's all there is to it.Helped me.

For Eg: You are on a straight road to a hotel (A main road with two way traffic) , now,set your mind to PERPENDICULAR(direct) . now,suddenly you make a left turn and going straight.now set Mode:PARALLEL. Next,you make a U-turn and go backwards for some reason.now mode:PARALLEL again. Key thing here is to take some focus off of the Road names which can get tedious and confusing to remember and focus solely on direction.I'm pretty sure this is how must have traveled in the days of old. I'm gonna start this as a separate thread,but let me know if you found it useful.
also,try replacing the words with simpler ones like (Direct,Indirect) etc.

1 February, 2015 - 07:30
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Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't perpendicular 90 degrees to the straight line?

1 February, 2015 - 07:37
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You are right Liam. :) . But I am talking about a fixed Point and not a line. I'm sorry I just used the words that came off the top of my head and am not too clear with math terminologies :P. I thought if we are traveling 'Towards' a point,its perpendicular and anywhere else('Not Towards') is parallel.No matter,we make a left/right/U-turn, we are still traveling parallel to the point(Maybe because we haven't arrived at the turn yet) . thanks for you reply :)

1 February, 2015 - 08:52
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You are talking about a fixed point on a street (line). So perpendicular can only be a road that is 90 degrees to that line.

1 February, 2015 - 13:09
r30
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Interesting, have you read Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings?
It mentions, that we really do like to think in parallel and perpendicular lines (90 turns), and are not so good navigating/map memorizing when the lines cross in smaller degrees (45* for example). E.g. The Old Town of Tallinn has a lot of streets that do not even go straight (they are curved). And it's really hard to navigate there, not to mention memorizing the map.

15 February, 2015 - 08:02
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Joined: 2 years 5 months ago

"Looks like I'm a year late for this great and very needed thread"

No worries! I am still a young driver hahaha. I don't think this problem of mine is going away any time soon!

I have a question though: when you say keep track of orientation relative to the destination, are you literally doing this, or only working backwards from destination. That is, are you counting the number of turns you're making to determine whether you're parallel or perpendicular, or are you actually keeping track of orientation. Because I'd imagine that a lot of roads don't work in 90 degree angles, so for me to utilize this technique I would either have to selectively utilize it or "fake it" in a way.

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