I was going through my travel file drawer yesterday and I found a pile of Streetwise maps for various cities. I love those things.
Streetwise maps are small foldable, laminated cardboard maps that can fit in a back pocket. They usually include a map of a city’s center on one side. The other side may have a street index, a larger-scale map of the city or inset maps of different neighborhoods.
These maps are great for walking around an unknown city, especially for those of us with absolutely no sense of direction. I can pull one out of my pocket and study it surreptitiously, without everyone on the street noticing the lost tourist unfolding some huge map. They’re sturdy, too, and fairly water- and coffee-resistant. (I spill things.)
Streetwise also sells country and regional maps, but I wish it had more street maps for more cities. There are lots of road maps out there for driving, but what the directionally challenged traveler really needs are street maps better than the ones hotels give out.
I gave the kid a Streetwise map of Montreal when she left for college there. She used it constantly until she got to know the city. I’ve also given several as gifts to relatives planning trips, and I’ve loaned out a couple of my own.
That may explain why I could find only the maps for Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Mexico City and New Orleans in my drawer. Obviously, somebody made off with Austin and Seattle.
You can buy Streetwise maps directly from the publisher, from Amazon or from Barnes and Noble, among other places. They cost $8 each, and there are deals on packets of related maps. I just ordered four maps for Spain for $25.