Maps made by cartographers today are clearly more detailed then those created just 100 years earlier. Today there are many different types of maps. Some examples are: military city maps, topographic maps, or photomaps and these have express purposes. Decide what kind of map you need before purchasing one from a retailer. By the 1600’s most maps were carefully colored. Today modern maps are rich in detail and color plays an important role in making maps easier to read. Map colors should be always consistent on a single map.
Military maps may have some of the same color markings as general purpose/commercially produced maps but are used for military purposes. Special purpose maps used by the military have been designed or modified to give information not covered on a standard map. Some of the subjects covered are: Suitability for airfield construction, Airborne operations, Natural construction materials, Drainage characteristics, Fuels, and Surface water resources.
The maps suitable for most general purposes will be Geographic Maps and Tourist Road Maps as these maps give an overall idea of the mapped area in relation to roads, climate, relief, population, vegetation, and hydrography. A tourist map is good for traveling and hiking and finding the general location of major urban areas.
For survival purposes you should have as detailed of a map as you can understand. Travelers often go out with the intent of enjoying themselves but do not often prepare for worst case situations. If there is rioting in a foreign city, a map with good detail will show you how to navigate around construction or clogged traffic, until things die down. A good city map will show you alternate routes out of the city.
Do not solely rely on direction and aid from the nation you are staying in. Their focus is to gain calm before they provide assistance to those in need. A good topographical map will show the current water sources such as lakes and streams and alternate routes or water sources. A landslide and blocked pathway will require you to double-back and find another path around the mess.
When purchasing a map, look for it to be lightweight, packable, and easy to fit in your pocket. Look for maps that are printed on durable, waterproof, tear-resistant material. Double-sided maps will have more printable surface area to provide additional details and useful travel information.
When travelling we recommend looking at the Pop-Up or Unfolds maps from VanDam, Inc. The Pop-Up or Unfolds, or in full The World Unfolds, is a name given to any one of a range of patented, self-folding subject guides and street maps for cities around the world published by VanDam, Inc.. The first Unfolds pop-up map was designed and published in the 1984 by Stephan Van Dam as part of a series of 18 international maps which American Express offered to card members.
VanDam, Inc. continues to publish the Pop-Up and Unfolds street maps to many cities around the world. VanDam, Inc. also publishes in other formats including StreetSmart, StreetSmartMini, HistoryMapped, ArtSmart, ShopSmart, 2.5 and Urban@tlas.
Their pop up maps for tourists retail for roughly $7.00 and offer quite a bit of detail. The maps include popular historical and cultural destination cities and buildings (museums, universities, Milan, Paris), popular natural locations (beaches, canyons, known mountain peaks), and comprehensive road network and markings. Give them a try!
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