What is Geocaching? A Geocaching Primer

Geocaching – What is it? Geocaching uses a GPS enabled device to find hidden containers called geocaches.  The  GPS unit  can be your cell phone with the geocaching app or a stand alone GPS device that uses coordinates obtained from geocaching.com.  These devices can get you within a couple feet of the geocache, then you have to use the hints to find the cache.  A cache can be as big as a tackle box or as small as a park bench bolt.  Inside the cache you will often find trinkets and a log to sign that you have been there.  After you have found the cache you can log your find at geocache.com.  

How do you find the Caches?   The easiest way to find caches is with an app on your apple or android phone.  It will locate the nearest geocaches around you and give you directions to the cache.  There are geocaches all over the world.  Before we go on vacation, we log online where you can look at a world map and find out what caches will be nearby.   If you are in another country be sure to look up the directions and get the map going on your phone while you are still in Wifi, so you don’t need to use roaming to locate the cache.

WHY GEOCACHE:   Geocaching is like a treasure hunt.   We have gone to places we never would have seen if not for the geocache.   Did you know that there is a piece of the Berlin Wall in Orlando?   We didn’t either, until we were looking for a geocache at Universal City Walk and found it.

TRAVEL BUGS:  In the larger caches, you can find travel bugs and trinkets.  The rule with trinkets is to leave something of equal value for whatever you take.  The thing that we like  most are travel bugs. 

You can leave your own travel bugs and pick up other people’s travel bugs at travel bug hotels. The travel bugs are registered, so if you pick one up you need to log it in at geocaching.com.  When you drop it at the next cache you log in again so the owner can know the current location of the travel bug.   You can also write a quick note or post a picture for the travel bug owner to let them know where their travel bug has been. 

As you can see above, this is a map of one of our travel bugs that we left off in Denmark 2 years ago.  It has gone over 10,000 miles and is still going.   To the left you can see the travel bug log.  Each travel bug starts with a goal.  We left this travel bug off in Kathmandu with the goal of going as far as possible.   Others who have found the travel bug take pictures of it so we can see our travel bug in different countries and what it is doing.

To make a travel bug of your own, you need to buy a travel bug tag, which has a registered number.  Many people then attach a key chain or some other item to the travel bug.  We have attached key chains from where we live, Lego key chains and small plastic animals to our travel bugs.  When you first register your travel bug you write what your goal is for your bug.  Some of the travel bugs we have seen have stated goals of visiting all of the capitals of the world or making it around the world and back home again.  You can purchase the travel bug tags at geocaching.com, on Amazon or at stores like REI.

Geocaching has been a great way for our kids to learn about different countries by tracking where their travel bugs are. I think my husband actually gets more excited than the kids do, when he gets an email from geocaching.com saying that someone has picked up or dropped off one of our travel bugs.