Historically, people had much more awareness about directions, the movement of stars and the movement of the sun/moon. In the past, everyone knew North, South, East and West. Today many people don’t know that if they don’t use a compass because our lives have changed. We live in big cities, spend most of our time indoors, rely on GPS, and so many cannot figure out directions on their own. But in the past people knew.
They would find the Qiblah within seconds just by looking at the position of the sun. They could locate east and west and bases on that they’d know where the Qiblah was. And if someone didn’t, he’d ask someone who would know. The sun rises from the east and sets in the west, so people would easily figure out the Qiblah. At night, they’d easily figure it out through the location of the stars.
When I was growing up, if I couldn’t figure out where North is, then I’d simply ask someone (like at an airport) which way is North, and then pray towards the Qiblah (since I knew that the Qiblah is Northeast for example).