Cool Tools: The Fab Map

You never want to stand out like a tourist when you are one, so you do as the Romans do – assume the posture, don’t wear the camera around the neck, remove the name badge, wear cool shoes, and you would never be caught wearing the fanny pack anyway. But then there’s always the fact that you have absolutely no idea where you are going, making you look like some kind of lost lamb in the big city.

Now it’s usually said that men hate asking for directions – but in my relationship, we’ve had a complete role reversal. It’s me who would prefer to just keep walking and guessing where I am, and then there’s Jon who will unfold the giant map we picked up at the tourist information booth, like a newspaper, look around at the sky for some street sign, then look back at the map. Meanwhile I am looking around to see if people think I am really associated with this American in his sneakers looking at the giant map, except then he starts talking to me or gets mad that I am pretending to ignore him.

It’s kind of like when my friends and I first moved into New York City after college and had credit-card sized subway maps that we concealed in our hands to discreetly find out which train to take without admitting that we didn’t know.

In comes the Fab Map. These are microfiber fabric city maps are wrinkle-proof, tear-proof, and allows you to check the section you need to look at, and are waterproof. Unlike paper maps, which shred on the creases so you can’t read the streets on those edges, Fab Map does not fold. Well, you can, like a handkerchief.

Other highlights: It points out restaurants, hotels and key sites. It can also act as a laptop screen and eyeglass wipe, and possibly as a handkerchief, towel or cool headscarf, if you really want. It is also only $5.95.

Drawbacks: Fab Map currently only has maps of cities in the United States and of the tourist areas, such as Chicago’s Lincoln Park and Lakeview on one map, but missing the rest of the city. (You’ll have to buy the Magnificent Mile separately).

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