The fact is, apart from your aerodrome, it is unlikely that you will find windsocks conveniently placed on your route, nor will every area be covered by ATIS reports, so how do you determine wind direction? More importantly, apart from take-offs and landings (where we normally have access to wind information), why do we need to pay attention to wind direction and speed during our flights?
If you read our previous article on downdrafts, then you will have realised that not being aware of wind direction and speed over rough or mountainous terrain can put you in more than a spot of bother. On the other hand, knowing where the wind is coming from can really help you should you need to land on a remote bush strip, or in the case of a precautionary or forced landing. Similarly, catching a tailwind will get you there quicker should a call of nature be pressing.
Every instructor seems to have an arsenal of suggestions of how to determine wind direction, and I think all of these have their merits depending on where you are flying: