January 31, 2013

APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY: What’s a hit with hip young travelers? Fold-up maps.

In a world of iPads, GPS and digital technology at your fingertips, one international tourism organization has discovered that few things beat the traditional fold-up map.

USE-IT, a non-profit group that traces its roots back to 1970s Denmark, is an independent maker of free and funky city guides aimed at students and other young travelers, and it’s developing a cult following.

Designed and written by local artists and contributors, the colorful, individual maps are now produced in 23 cities across 14 European countries, with another two dozen cities lining up to take part in coming months.

The guides, covered in sharp commentary and doodle-like markings, scream youth and endeavor to point users to the hidden treats of otherwise familiar cities.

GPS is great, but a map does a better job of giving you a feel for the geography, not just a route.