Is there any way to train your brain to have a better sense of direction?

Mine is horrendous. There is a little man in my brain with a broom, busily sweeping away all traces of where I’ve been so that even seconds later, I hardly remember – I can be driving, walking down winding hallways in an unfamiliar building, walking, whatever – and I can’t freaking remember how to get back/out/wherever. If I get confused and make several U-turns it will get worse and worse. I can get lost driving back to my own neighborhood. Now with GPS I’m even worse than before because I rely on it so much. Can I do exercises or something with my brain to get better at this? My brain works quite well in other ways.

One thing I do is imagine a picture of the map in my head. In my head, I can picture how Green Street runs east and west and First Avenue runs north and south, and that X destination is in the NW quadrant. So, if I have somehow figured out that I’m going down Green Street westbound, then I can I think to myself, well, to go north, that will be a right turn…and see it on the map in my head so that’s what I do. It’s not that I can look around and just know which way is north.

I don’t see why not, along the lines of what you’re doing. I’ve always found it helpful to picture where I am from above. Think of how difficult a maze is from inside, so simple viewed from above. Try to use GPS less and force your brain to work. Account for possible delays in trip time as a result so it doesn’t cause problems. It might mean taking yourself out of your comfort zone - out of areas you know and try to get yourself lost in a suburb you’ve never been (make sure it’s not a dodgy area first). Take a bus whose route you don’t know and get off somewhere random - try walking back to where you started, or something like that. I guess you’d wanna take a map or GPS device with just in case :wink:
Also become mindful of where the sun is (and what time it is), although obviously this can be of limited use if indoors. I don’t think anyone just ‘knows’ which way north or a particular direction is, you need to get a bearing in relation to something else.

I like the idea of viewing it from above. Good idea, thanks.

I always thought of myself as having a good sense of direction. But when I travel from los Angeles to Pasadena, a distance of about 10 miles I am completely turned around when I get there. I have ben traveing there for over 40 years so know how to deal with it but for some reason my compass just goes haywire on that trip.

In Milwaukee the lake is always to the East. If you’re confused, think about where the lake is, it’s East and go from there. If you’re lost, get to the lake and start over, it’s the first think my dad taught me when I was learning to drive.

I see you’re in San Diego. The ocean is always to the West. I’m not sure what it’s like to drive around in San Diego (or CA), but if you can picture where the ocean is, it’s West, it’s always going to be West. No matter where you’re driving, which way you’re facing, what building you’re in, what map you’re looking at…the ocean is west. Just start there. To take it a step further, if you can remember that, once you know where the ocean is, ‘right’ is North. From there you should be good. But just remember, “The ocean is West”.

(Looking at a map, it looks like you could use San Diego Bay as well, but I don’t know the lay of the land there at all and “The Ocean is west” will work all up and down the coast

Also, and I think this is universal, but I’m not sure (it’s also trickier), at least around here house numbers count up in the direction that the street signs have on them. Does that make sense? That is, if you’re on West Palm Blvd and you see 3556 and then 3558 and then 3560, you’re going West. If you’re on South 36 St and you see 9603 and then 9601 and then 9551, you’re going North (probably more towards the middle of the city).

know a map fairly well.

if you had a map and pointed the north direction on the map to the north direction on the ground; then the map is oriented. if you moved a pencil on the map then it could follow your path.

when you don’t have a map with you then you could still have a map memory (mental map).

Completely thrown when I visited the USA after a long period in AUS, and realized that the sun is South of you. To the south. If it’s on your left, you’re heading West.

Up until that moment, I hadn’t realized how much I depended on the sun for a general sense of direction.

Without the sun, I have what I can only describe as a “sense of left”. Wherever I think I’m going, I actually tend to vear to the left. (Right-handed people are more likely to tend to vear to the right).

Take the map out every day and study the streets and over time you will remember and mark down landmarks on the map.

If you a cop this is only way to memorized your area. Take drive in parking lots and note the stores and business.So when call comes in to store or business you know where its at.

Sure, but practice picking up clues … such as the direction of the sun and shadows, and estimating distant objects… if you are there, then the thing should be SE… that sort of thing.