Read a Road Map Day – April 5, 2021

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MonApr 5

Adventure calls on Read a Road Map Day on April 5 and you bet National Today is going to answer with full enthusiasm and excitement. Today, technological advancements have made life a lot easier to navigate, both literally and figuratively. If you want to visit a place that you’ve never been to before or you don’t know exactly how to get to a spot in the city, fret not. Pull up your GPS (Global Positioning System) on your smartphone and you are good to go. However, in the days of yore, which in all fairness was not that long ago, people employed a paper road map’s aid to help themselves in understanding their routes. The same goes for the U.S. military, too, until they upgraded to GPS and, thus, recorded the first instance of a GPS being used in the country.

History of Read a Road Map Day

Paper road maps have become somewhat obsolete in today’s day and age, but this is exactly why Read a Road Map Day aims to raise awareness. There’s much history attached to road maps, from the times of Ancient Egypt to modern Europe.

The history of road maps starts in 1160 B.C. in Egypt. The earliest recorded instance of the road map showcased dry river beds in a mining region of Thebes. Years down the line, in 350 A.D., the Roman road network called Tabula Peutingeriana was created. It showed roads and trails running from North Africa and Europe to West Asia. The highly detailed road map also depicted the Mediterranean Sea and the Italian Peninsula. In more modern times, Rand McNally’s “New Automobile Road Map of New York City & Vicinity” was published in 1904. As the name suggests, it outlines New York City’s road structure and such.

At its basic, a road map includes travel routes and links that lead and connect to all major and minor points of a place. These types of maps also showcase political boundaries and any restrictions. Apart from these, road maps also aid in finding the nearest pit stops, gas stations, and other transport options. Famous landmarks, tourist sites, hotels, inns, etc. are also included. The types of content you’ll find on a road map depend on the type of road map you have on hand. For example, single-page and smaller road maps will outline all the major and minor routes. On the other hand, larger and foldable maps display more details.

Today, paper road maps may have become a thing of the past, but they still offer much-needed guidance, especially when technological devices are of no use, either due to network issues or battery problems. Paper road maps also allow us to peek into yesteryear’s experiences, allowing us to indulge in nostalgia. While it is unclear who created Read a Road Map Day and/or when it was first celebrated, the day creates awareness about human beings’ amazing feats and advancements.

Read a Road Map Day timeline

1160 B.C.
Earliest Recorded Road Map

Ancient Egypt’s Turin Papyrus Map is the first-recorded road map in the history of humankind.

235 A.D.
Europe’s Oldest Road Map

A Roman soldier draws a road map of Europe that displays towns on the northern side of the Black Sea.

1500
Romans’ Religious Road Map

Erhard Etzlaub makes the first Roman road map to help religious pilgrims reach Rome to celebrate the Holy Year 1500.

1905
AAA Produces its First Road Map

The American Automobile Association manufactures its first road map, which shows roads on Staten Island.

Read a Road Map Day FAQs

I don’t know how to read a road map, so what should I do?

First, look at the type of map you have on hand and, for this, you can look at what routes/roads/points it has laid out. Once you figure out the type of map, you can start looking at patterns and this is where the legend (usually found at the borders of the map or on the side) will help you identify what you are looking at and what you should be looking at. With that being said, never look at a paper map as you are driving — either get someone in the passenger seat to help you or park your car somewhere before you look at the map.

Why should I use a paper road map when I have the internet and GPS available to me?

Who says that technology will never fizzle out on you? There’s always a malfunction danger with electronics but good ol’ paper will never betray you. It will always be there when you need it.

I am still not convinced about using a paper map instead of my GPS. Why should I opt for the former?

Because, unlike a GPS, paper road maps will help you decide on an alternate route by yourself. When you are going somewhere and you take the wrong turn, your GPS will redirect you, and often it happens that the newer route will be longer or tedious to navigate — sometimes you even lose connection. There are no such problems with a paper map.

How To Celebrate/Observe Read a Road Map Day

  1. Get a road map for your trip

    We always use a GPS to get around. After all, it’s easier to look up a direct route with all your customized preferences and with a GPS voice guiding your steering wheel. But dive into nostalgia by getting to your destination using only a paper road map with your friends. It will be a lot of fun, and you’ll come to appreciate today’s technologies even more.

  2. Plan a long road trip

    You may have your everyday routes imprinted into your brain so getting a road map for these may not be necessary. Plan a road trip with your friends or loved ones to another city or another country. Get paper road maps of the place to discover the wonder that a road map is!

  3. Learn about the history of road maps

    There are several different types of road maps out there, some very specific ones and others more general in their content. However, each still holds important parts of history and purpose. Learn and research about the road map’s past. You will not only be increasing your knowledge, but you will also come to admire the hard work and dedication of cartographers.

5 Facts About GPS That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. GPS used to be called Navstar

    The first satellite launched for the GPS tracking system was called Navstar, which also happens to be the name that GPS was initially referred to.

  2. GPS’ introduction after tragedy

    The Soviet Union introduced free GPS services to its public after it accidentally shot down a Korean Airlines plane when it entered the country’s airspace.

  3. People use phone GPS more

    Even if their cars already have GPS installed into them, the majority of people will use the GPS installed in their phones.

  4. GPS for helping Alzheimer’s patients

    The benefits of GPS have become so popular that now it is also being installed into shoes made for patients with Alzheimer’s disease in order to track them if they wander off.

  5. GPS for time location

    GPS not only helps with planning routes and such, but it also helps in predicting the exact time, more or less, of when a destination will be reached.

Why We Love Read a Road Map Day

  1. It’s a celebration of advanced technologies

    Today, our devices, despite being extremely compact, hold so many essential things. Starting from alarm clocks to cameras to calculators to calendars and, now, to detailed GPS maps of almost every place in the world. Previously, paper road maps could offer only so much no matter how detailed they would be. But now no place on Earth is too unfamiliar, thanks to GPS.

  2. It’s a celebration of old craftsmanship

    To even fathom remembering all important details about a place and jotting them down is an extremely difficult task. Cartographers did all this and much more without the help of any kind of machinery or technology to help them in their tasks. Not to mention all the dangers (in terms of food/water scarcity, climates, unknown people, etc.) they would have faced months on end as they charted a place.

  3. It’s a celebration of joyous trips

    We have come to appreciate and crave the wondrous feeling of being able to go on trips. Paper road maps, with all their squiggly and straight lines, instill a sense of wanderlust into the onlooker’s mind by inviting them on adventures.

Read a Road Map Day dates

YearDateDay
2021April 5Monday
2022April 5Tuesday
2023April 5Wednesday
2024April 5Friday
2025April 5Saturday