What is a Travel Bug?
What is a travel bug? Well your first thought might go to some horrible disease you have heard about someone getting while traveling through a third world country, that is not what I am talking about. The travel bug I am talking about is a small item that used while geocaching.
Geocaching is a sort of high tech treasure hunt that lets you search almost anywhere in the world for something that was hidden by somebody else. Whether you use an expensive hand held GPS unit or your smart phone there are many ways to find a geocache. A geocache typically has at least a log for you to sign and the larger caches have room for items to trade, called swag. Check this out if you are unsure of some of the geocaching jargon.
Many of these trade items are small toys, or maybe trinkets that serve as a calling card of sorts for a specific cacher that always leaves the same item. These items may stay in a cache, could be kept by the next person to trade or they could travel the world being passed from cache to cache.
For avid cachers that want to send an item around the world Groundspeak came up with an excellent solution. They created what they call a Travel Bug. This is a dog tag type object with a small key chain attached to it. Each Travel Bug has a unique code on it. When you log onto the geocaching website and enter the code it directs you to the Travel Bug's own website. On the website the owner has the ability to enter where the bug started, where they would like it to go and any special instructions.
Some examples of what I have seen are travel bugs that have the goal of traveling around the world and back to the owner. By putting that on the bug's web page the owner hopes that people that are caching while they travel will pick it out of a geocache and take it further along it's journey. Some bugs might have something attached as a theme. One that I found had a small wooden fish attached to the tag, the owner requested that when you placed the bug you tried to find a cache that was near water or at least within sight of water.
What To Do With A Travel Bug
The general etiquette of geocaching is that if you take an item out of the cache you replace it with something of about the same value. Travel Bugs don't follow this general trend. The entire purpose of a Travel Bug is to travel. So if you find one, feel free to pull it out of the cache. Just make sure that you help the bug along its course and move it to a new cache as quickly as possible.
So you just take it then? Not exactly. While a Travel Bug is made to travel, make sure you log where it goes. When you log onto the bug's web page you can enter an action for it. If you are going to move it, indicate that you picked it up out of the cache it was in. You will need the unique code on the bug to verify that you do actually have it. Then when you put it into a new cache you will need to "drop it" into the new cache, which you can do when you are logging the new find. This lets everyone else that logs in the ability to see where bugs are and to see where they have been.
What kind of interesting Travel Bugs have you found? I always enjoy finding these and passing them around. Hopefully this will help you understand the role of a Travel Bug.
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