Go on a treasure hunt! Try geocaching!
I've discovered a new adventure sport that gives you the thrill of treasure hunting, but doing so at your own pace and level of difficulty.
It's called Geocaching! (pronounced geo-cashing)
What is it?
How do I get started?
First, go to the website geocaching.com and sign up for a free membership!
Read the "Getting Started" link for a little background information on the sport of geocaching. Check out other websites, geocaching hubs, and books for more information. Geocaching.com's resources page is full of tips and hints!
When you're ready to go geocaching, check out the "Hide and Seek a Cache" link.
You can search for caches in your area by typing in your address or your zip code and selecting a search radius. I searched by my address and found that there are 7 within only a 1-mile radius of my house!
Use the search results to choose a cache that you want to find. They are rated for size and difficulty, so perhaps you want to start out early. Geocaching.com provides GPS coordinates, maps, and sometimes clues. Print these out or make note of them for when you head out on your trip. Pay attention to other geocachers' notes or logs - they might contain clues or information (or spoilers) as well!
Use a GPS device to navigate to the cache location. Then it's up to you to use your clues to actually find where the cache has been hidden!
Sometimes the cache will simply contain a log book that you sign to record your visit and that you found the location. Other times, the cache will contain trinkets or mementos from finders - you can take something out to commemorate your trip, but make sure you leave something behind for the next people who find the cache!
What do I need?
To get started geocaching, you need to at least be able to print out a map of the area that you're searching in. You can do this with Geocaching.com, GoogleMaps, etc.
You may need some sort of GPS device - whether it's your mobile phone, car GPS, or a handheld GPS. I found my first cache after printing out a map of the area and using my mobile phone.
Take a pen with you - a lot of times the caches are so small that they can only hold a log book or a few sheets of log paper. Sometimes a cache may hold trinkets that you can swap, so if you're going to take something out, make sure you have something to replace it with.
The first cache that I found was in a very public shopping center, and my friends and I decided to look for it while we were out shopping.
However, sometimes caches are hidden in areas that are not so public. If it's an area you're familiar with, then you should know how to dress:
Long pants or long sleeves?
Are you going to need bug spray?
Water and snacks?
If it's an area you don't really know, do your research beforehand and be careful out there!
Use caution when geocaching.
- Don't go by yourself.
- Let someone know your location or destination.
- Use your GPS to mark where your car is so you can get back to where you started!
- Take sunscreen, bug spray, snacks.
- Take a cell phone with you, in case of emergency.
- Take car chargers with you, to make sure your devices are charged.
Geocache at home or on vacation!
I am really excited to get out and discover the caches hidden in my area, but I also learned that there are caches hidden on the islands where my family will be cruising to in just a few weeks.
Besides being hidden all over the US, there are caches stashed in places like Mexico, Aruba, Belize, the Bahamas, Thailand, France, and even Antarctica!
When planning a trip or a vacation, be sure to check Geocaching.com to find caches that are stashed around your destination, or even along the way!
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