Holidays can teach us many things — about a destination, about other people and about ourselves.

I'm the kind of person who gets lost in my own house on the way to the bathroom at night. It's a disaster waiting to happen. It's even worse out on the streets. Lacking a sense of direction is a nightmare in a new city in a confusing and foreign land. Google Maps isn't always there to help. I believe a big lesson from travel is orienting yourself. It used to be a chore, now it's my favourite part of arriving in a new place.

I spend the first day getting my bearings. Once you know your north and south it all comes into perspective. I was in New York staying in a hotel that looked out over Central Park. Once I worked out we were facing north, Manhattan opened up. Downtown is south, Uptown north. Suddenly the Lower East Side, Upper East Side, East Village, Midtown West . . . it all makes sense. Knowing which way you are going and where you are at enriches your experience. You can look up and around instead of down at your phone.

Matt Heath with son. Photo / Supplied
Matt Heath with son. Photo / Supplied

A tip on the Subway, even if you know which way you are going, learn the difference between Local and Express. I got that wrong and overshot the American Museum of Natural History by miles.

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Orienting myself in the likes of Tokyo, Bangalore and Manhattan in the past year has helped me in my everyday life. The chances of getting lost at night have been greatly reduced.

• Hauraki Breakfast host Matt Heath is co-creator and voice actor of animated series Cardboard City, available now on heihei.nz