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Experienced travelers possess an intuitive wayfinding sensibility to find their way back home

February 1, 2012 | Categories: Signage & Wayfinding

The fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel is well-known throughout the world: two little children wandering through the forest leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way back home. To their dismay, the birds eat the breadcrumbs and the two end up in the house of an old woman who tries to eat them.

Although Gretel was smart for making a path she could follow back in case she and Hansel got lost, she might have been better off relying on her memory. Alas, there was no public guidance system to help the two find their way back home.

If they knew where they were going, they might have relied upon landmarks to lead them back to the starting point. Researchers at The Max Planck Institute say that some travelers are able to develop a "cartographic imagination" that allows them to gain an intuitive access to the entire layout of the area that they are in - including cities - which allows people to find their way home from unfamiliar starting points - even without the use of sign stands or other directional devices, KCET-TV reports.

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