The difference between “Being Lost” and “Disorientated”

Some people would say “Disoriented” means you know where you are, but you dont know where to go and “Lost” means you don’t know where you are or how to get out.  I like the saying “Geographically embarrassed”.

Theres nothing in life more exhilarating than being faced with options.  These options can sometimes be the difference between “going the usual, boring way” to the BBQ or choosing the “more exciting, adventurous, short cut”, that the person sitting in the seat next to doesn’t agree with.  She usually bites her lip, knowing that she can say “I told you so” anytime she wants, when you decide to disagree with her over directions.


Being the type of guy I am, I usually have a windscreen full of GPS devices.  But..  I am a man, and men have a deep rooted sense of direction that dates back to the age of dinosaurs, when our ancestors hunted sabre tooth tigers., and needed to know which way to drag the beast back to the cave.


Devices usually get things wrong anyway.  We’ve all heard about the tourists that drove their car into the lake following the man in the TomTom or Navman (Not picking on these brands at all).   This is why we look out the window so much.  To memorise landmarks, demographic features of the landscape.  Just in case we need to find our way back.

Whats an adventure without a little uncertainty ??  I know the feeling of being lost and the excitement of finding my way again.  Sometimes I do it on purpose.  No its not something I tell my  just  companions when I don’t know the way !!  I find the challenge enjoyable.

Today, in the world of the mobile phone, the world of infinite contact, the ability to open the maps feature and select “Go Home” makes things easier, less enjoyable in my opinion.   Looking at an aerial view of your location brings no surprises, nothing that could challenge you, and everything more avoidable.


Being lost, or geographically challenged, gives us the opportunity to practice one or two if the many ways to find which direction your pointing.  A compass helps if you have one.  A pin placed on a leaf in a puddle also shows you North and South.


You can use your watch and the sun to find true north or some carefully arranged sticks can become a sundial.

Or my all time favourite, just keep going until you end up somewhere.  You can always go back, usually.

If you find yourself truely lost, and you don’t have an epirb, Spot or means of communicating, preparation is always the key.

Tell someone where your going, your likely route, and always include an estimated time of return.  That way if you don’t return, and haven’t made contact, an alert can be raised.

And if your hiking and become lost, stay put.  I know what its like driving in the bush at night, and there’s no way I’d want to be walking around out there.  Here in Australia, we have snakes, Kangaroos and drop bears that’ll fall on you and rip your throat out.   Cliffs, Old mine shafts, even unstable uneven ground can be hazardous.

To me;  lost means, you know your way back but not forward, and this is fun in an adventurous way.

And Disorientated means you have no idea where you are, and don’t know which direction is back this isn’t as much fun as being just lost.


See…. being lost can be fun, after all  it all comes down to perspective.


  1. I agree with your definitions. I am planning to pick up an iPad mini with cellular connectivity sometime in the next year. The cellular connection will be fun, but that’s not why we’re getting it. We want it because the WIFI only units don’t have GPS and we want to use HEMA Navigation on it. That way we can get lost or even disoriented and find our way out again, and maybe forward.


    1. I’ve got this little device called a “BadElf” which is a GPS receiver. It simply bluetooth’s to any device that doesn’t have active Sim card access, which allows programs such as Hema, VMS, MudMaps etc to run as if you had network connection.
      With regards to Hema Navigation, I found it a good App but it was “clunky” simply due to the apps need to constantly download your updated location map. Mud Maps on the other hand already has the maps downloaded in the app. I found Mudmaps easier to use and it had more detailed maps as well. It also showed BBQ’s, camp grounds, creeks/streams, huts etc, which you would have to swap between maps in Hema to find.
      I recommend doing a little research, and playing prior to buying as personal opinions vary, and what I find easy others might find difficult (and visa versa).
      Thanks for the comment Tobias, and happy exploring 🙂


      1. I haven’t actually had any trouble with clunky map downloads in HEMA. I download the full HEMA navigation maps for the U.s. and the local topos for where I’ll actually be ahead of time.


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