Map reading? Forget it! I have to find my way around a city by other means. When I planned a recent trip to London, I was able to find my destination and arrive there on time. There were some strategies that helped me. So I’d like to tell you about them here. I hope you might be able to use them to travel with confidence and success.
I found out which bus to take, using the local travel website
I knew my journey in London would start from King’s Cross train station. I wanted to use the bus (rather than the underground) to reach my destination because you can see where you’re going from a bus, especially the upper deck.
So I needed to find out which bus route to take, and how often it ran. For that, I used the Transport for London website, which I found extremely dyslexia-friendly. Here’s the route diagram I used: https://tfl.gov.uk/bus/route/91.
To find the times you click on an arrowhead, like this >
And you can access the timetable from there. I was amazed at how easy I found it to read the times and timetable.
2. I located the bus stop, using a video and Google maps
Next, I had to work out where my stop was. I saw from the route diagram that it was called R. I needed to see a photo of the stop, rather than a map of it. So I googled ‘number 91 bus route + video’ and found a video of the bus route. It has a catchy soundtrack which made me feel positive about my journey!
The video let me work out where the bus stop was, in relation to the station.
Then I used Google maps in earth view to go for a virtual walk, from the train station to the bus stop. It was quite tricky to navigate but after some perseverance I managed to see my stop. That meant I knew exactly where it was and how to reach it.
3. I found out where to get off the bus, using a landmark / Google images
The stop I needed to get off at was the terminus of the route. It should have been easy. But I still managed to get off a stop early, and I know from using buses regularly that this is a common mistake people make. So I knew I’d need a landmark. I found one on Google maps (the National Gallery). Then I looked it up on Google images so I could recognise it when I saw it. I used it to find the right road for the walk to my final destination.
You can’t pay your fare with coins or bank notes on London buses. You have to pay by contactless technology; or by Oyster Card (the travel pass for public transport in London). If you plan to pay by contactless check your bank card has the contactless icon on it.
To complement any verbal instructions you are given, ask your contact for an aerial photo of the whole building with an arrow pointing to the exact entrance you’ve to use.
Plan in plenty of extra time to your journey in case of delays or mistakes
Ask someone for help to plan your journey if you need it. Be specific in what you ask for help with.
Ask for help on your journey if you need it. If I tell someone I’m dyslexic before I ask them for help, they are more understanding and patient.