We have all been there. When was the last party you attended where the main topic of discussion revolves around how people became lost driving to it? Or did you miss the discussion because you were an hour late getting to a party because you missed an exit and ended up driving 30 miles before the next exit and turnaround? Unfortunately this happens too often because of careless and flippant direction giving.
Let's improve on those driving direction skills together as hosts! Driving is stressful enough, you look to your host to put as much thought into making sure guests arrive at your party safely, timely and stress-free as you put into planning the food, activities and other party details. If your guests are traveling a long distance to get to your party, as often is the case with a wedding, you especially want them to arrive on time so they don't miss the main event. Whenever you are sending out written invitations, always include directions, unless you know for certain that everyone knows the area well.
If you are inviting guests to an event that will be held at two locations, such as an invitation to the church for a wedding and another location for the reception, you should give three sets of directions. There should be directions to each location separately, and directions to get from the first destination to the second.
I've been a guest at weddings where the directions were only given to the church, and then it's assumed that a procession of cars will head over to the reception. This is not always a practical assumption, especially in a crowded city. I've also known people who, for example, missed the wedding at the church because of traffic or other delays, and then needed to figure out how to get to the reception on their own.
How to Provide Good Directions to Your Guests
You have three options for preparing directions to your party:
- If your party is held at a restaurant, catering hall, or even a church or synagogue, ask the staff if they have printed directions they can provide to you for your guests.
- Use one of the direction mapping sites listed below to print directions and maps for your guests.
- Prepare your own directions.
Preparing Your Own Directions
- Give directions from all the major highways your guests may use.
- Map out the local roads by driving them yourself. The more details you can include, the better.
- Note mileage between points, e.g. "after turning onto Rte. 51, go 5.5 miles until you come to Old York Highway at the fifth light, and then make a left."
- Include landmarks so that guests can be assured they are progressing in the correct direction, e.g. "after turning onto Rte. 51, you will pass Pudgy's Diner, then Green Apple Supermarket, and finally the Fire House. Look for next stop sign - that will be Old York Highway. Make a right onto Old York.
- Ask a friend to take your directions for a "test drive", or do it yourself, but pay close attention.
- Include a map, if possible.
If you pay attention to all the little details, your guests will arrive talking about how easy it was to find you and ready to have a good time, instead of grumpy and tired after getting lost.
Driving Direction Websites
Mapquest - Driving directions for U.S., Canada, and Europe. Maps, traffic cams, accident reports, and city guides can all be found on this site.
Expedia - A mapping and driving directions service that allow you to name your origination or destination point without an address, and they'll map the route for you. You can select from three route choices: Quickest, Shortest and Most Scenic.
Maps.com - They offer an online world atlas, plenty of maps for sale, weather reports and social studies lessons. They also have driving directions, but are more cumbersome to use than some of the other services.
Maps on Us - Detailed driving directions and maps.