How to Overcome the Fear of Getting Lost While Driving

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Getting lost while driving is sometimes considered a normal occurrence, and no matter how embarrassing that sounds, it is not far from the truth. It is common to see new drivers experience this situation, especially around areas they’re not familiar with.

Although getting lost while driving can most times be regarded as entirely human in certain circumstances, it has some strong psychological effects on both new and old drivers. Such fears put a dent on your confidence, and if not handled quickly, it can completely deter you from driving entirely—a situation known as vehophobia.

The fear of becoming lost while driving is categorized as vehophobia, which is the fear of driving. It also has indirect relationships with other phobias such as dystchiphobia, the fear of accidents; motorphobia, the fear of automobiles; tachophobia, the fear of speed; and traumatophobia, the fear of injury. Several people who suffer driving phobias also have agoraphobia, which entails an extreme fear of being in locations where they had experienced certain forms of trauma.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) instructs that driving phobias should be treated with exposure and response prevention therapy, commonly known as ERP therapy. This article discusses ways to handle being lost while driving, how to overcome the fear of getting lost while driving, and how to avoid getting lost while driving.

What can one do when they get lost while driving?

Usually, when you realize that you have taken one or more wrong turns, steering yourself into places where nothing seems familiar, the first signal that rushes through your body is that of panic. This is not the right thing to do. Getting tense and throwing yourself into a state of panic will worsen matters for you. At this stage, you need to ensure that you can get things under control and find your way around in the most effective ways possible.

Here are eight things to do if you ever get lost while driving:

  1. Stay calm
  2. Determine your location
  3. Ask for help
  4. Reach out to the authorities
  5. Use road signs
  6. Take it slow
  7. Be decisive
  8. Have a great time

Stay calm

Getting lost while driving is undeniably frustrating. It combines the stress of being on the road with the trouble of not knowing how to arrive at the intended destination. However, allowing it to make you lose control can lead to more terrible challenges. If you feel tense at any point, find a safe place to pull over, put yourself together, and plan to focus on finding your way without tension.

Determine your location

If you were following directions on your smartphone and you only missed a turn, for instance, you would find it relatively easy to get back on track. If not, look around you. Look for clues that can help you know where you are, and this can help you find ways to get to your desired destination.

Ask for help

Don’t let pride and the feeling of embarrassment hinder you from asking for help. Not asking for help when you can, easily makes things a lot harder for you. Ignore the rudeness that may come from people. Just focus on the help they are willing to render and capitalize on that. You may find it easier to get directions from gas station attendants, store clerks, and other public workers.

Ask the authorities

If you are in a neighborhood where it is not safe to ask random people for direction, or you’re just uncomfortable doing so, you may want to seek help from local authorities nearby.

Use road signs

The Roman Empire erected milestones some distance away from the capital, which helped people who were new to the location travel there hassle-free — hence the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” In present times, you can use GPS, or follow road signs that give directions to your destination or familiar locations.

Take it slow

Staying in the slow lane makes it easier to read road signs and switch lanes when necessary. You don’t want to go fast and miss the way further.

Be decisive

Be calm and try to maintain a lane. Switching lanes haphazardly when you miss your way may confuse you further.

Have a great time

Have a great time, notwithstanding. You’re only lost, temporarily. It’s not the end of the world. Observe some proper breathing exercises. Stay relaxed and have a good time as you find your way around. Turn things around and laugh at the embarrassment; it will sound a lot funnier when you finally get home, and you’ll definitely want to share the experience with your closest friends. Listen to some good music, turn up the volume, and imagine you’re on a mission ― you actually are. Admire the sights and monuments. However, ensure you don’t get distracted from your quest of getting back on track.

5 Ways to Overcome the Fear of Getting Lost While Driving

There are situations in which people get lost while driving and find it difficult to get over the experience. This can be traumatic, and sometimes requires the intervention of a specialist for such people to ever successfully drive afterward. Here are five practical ways to overcome the fear of getting lost while driving:

  1. Build an anxiety first aid kit
  2. Get a self-help program
  3. Use relaxation techniques
  4. Get some therapy
  5. Know the rules of the road

Build an anxiety first aid kit

If you have ever suffered any driving-related anxiety, you may need to get an anxiety first aid kit. This should always be in your car. The kit should contain specific things tailored to help to prevent and manage anxiety in situations like this. Here they are:

  • A cell phone charger
  • A relaxation CD
  • Working GPS
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • A bottle of water

A cell phone charger will ensure your phone never shuts down due to low battery. Getting lost with a dead phone makes things a lot more complicated and frustrating. It almost completely hinders you from getting some help with technology. It plunges you back to the old-school style of finding your way. With a well-charged phone, you can easily find your way by using an app or by contacting someone online. This way, you can avoid getting lost, and even deal with the fear of its occurrence by getting directions beforehand.

Also, listening to a soothing playlist can help relax your mind. The state of relaxation puts you at peace and reduces the fear of getting lost while driving.

Getting a GPS navigation system handy helps you find directions easily, hence eliminating the fear of getting lost.

You may also get have anti-anxiety medications, based on your doctor’s prescription. Take it along in your car at all times to combat anxiety.

Staying hydrated is always essential. Drinking water will help you stay focused and avoid anxiety. This is especially helpful because anxiety causes dehydration.

Use a self-help program

A self-help or self-improvement program is a self-guided therapy that can help you overcome the fear of getting lost while driving, among other fears. You might need to contact a psychologist to guide you in choosing a program that best suits you.

Use relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques help the mind relax when fear and anxiety kick in. Use relaxation techniques to reduce your anxiety level to the least it can be. Simple relaxation techniques you may practice are:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Count numbers
  • Engage in self-talk

Self-talks can be encouraging. Tell yourself positive expressions such as “I can do this,” “I can find my way easily,” or “I can drive easily.”

Get some therapy

It is not unusual that one may not be able to help themselves to overcome the fear of getting lost while driving. A therapist may be helpful in such a situation. Conventional therapy to combat the fear of getting lost while driving is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which can keep you from engaging the thoughts that may lead to anxiety. Group therapy can also be great at dealing with the fear of getting lost. Joining a support group gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts with others, and that can be very helpful to the mind.

Know the rules of the road

While you are doing all you can to overcome the fear of getting lost while you drive, you are not promised that a panic attack will never occur. To avoid an accident, it is vital for you to know what to do when a panic attack occurs. Here’s what to do if you experience a panic attack while driving:

  • Pull off to a safe place.
  • Turn off the car engine and practice breathing.
  • Go on a walk if it is safe to do so, or recline in your seat for a while, until you feel better.
  • Take your medications if you have any.
  • Call for help if you need to.

How to Overcome the Fear of Getting Lost While Driving 2

7 Ways to Avoid Getting Lost While Driving

Having discussed how to handle being lost while driving and overcoming the fear of getting lost while driving, this third area of discourse is vital for people who have never driven, or who have never experienced getting lost while driving, yet. Needless to say, people who have experienced it would also find this helpful, as it would help them to never experience it anymore. Whichever category you fall into, it is a known fact that no one enjoys getting lost while driving. Here’s how you can avoid getting lost while driving:

LOSTCAR will help you. Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? Let us explore LOSTCAR.

  • Landmarks
  • Observe
  • Sun
  • Traffic
  • Chart
  • Ask
  • Retrace


One of the easiest ways of becoming familiar with new environments is taking note of reliable landmarks. Use tall building, skyscrapers, factories, mountains, water towers, or other relatively fixed structures as landmarks. This way, the possibility of missing your way is reduced.


Take some time to assimilate some details around you — features such as road signs, billboards, street names, water bodies, bridges, and as many as you can observe. These details, in addition to the landmarks, will give you a mental picture of new surroundings, and give you a smooth ride when next you visit.


Not many of us have compasses these days. Checking the direction of the sun helps you figure out the cardinal point you are heading to, so you can better follow whatever direction you know. It is fun to learn how to use the sun to find directions. You should try it.


Traffic flow can help you to know if a road is a major one, or leads to major access points. If you are on a road that has a heavy traffic flow, you may have higher chances of finding your way.


Chart your course before you go on a journey. You could use a map online or a printed one. Having a physical plan of how you intend to navigate helps avoid becoming lost while driving. Beyond that, it also enables you to save some time.


This is one of the easiest ways to avoid getting lost. Ask people you know who have been to that destination. This serves as a helpful addition to using your map because people can give you advice that the map is not capable of giving.


If, while driving, you accidentally depart from the path you should go, retrace your steps. Simply find your way back. Moving on in the wrong direction may get you lost. This may seem like a no-brainer, however, it isn’t — some people feel reluctant to get back on track, thinking they can do so from the wrong track.


Losing the way is natural ― whether while walking, traveling in a commercial vehicle, or driving. People sometimes become so absorbed in their thoughts that they get distracted from intended areas of focus. The abnormal aspect of losing one’s way lies in its frequent occurrence, and an inability to quickly take cognizance of the loss of direction. This is why people who drive should take precautionary methods while also leveraging advancements in technology to avoid getting lost.

There is no doubt that getting lost, in itself, is super frustrating, let alone getting lost while driving. The mantra, prevention is better than cure, remains undeniably true. Learning how to overcome the fear of getting lost while driving is beneficial. A way of preventing anxiety is realizing that losing the way while driving is not necessarily an outcome of a disorder and that you can lose your way while driving without suffering an anxiety disorder afterward.

You also need to learn certain basics like how to ask for direction. Understand responses to questions, and know some other details such as community-based road travel gestures, signs, slang expressions, and whatever else you should know to find your way and stay safe. This is particularly important in situations where the language spoken in the new environment is different from yours.