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Try Geocaching When You Travel

Updated on March 10, 2013
A pretty typical geocache container
A pretty typical geocache container | Source
A look at the inside of a nice geocache, complete with trade prizes and a notebook.
A look at the inside of a nice geocache, complete with trade prizes and a notebook. | Source

If you are looking for an interesting and fun way to explore the countryside on your next vacation, you should look into doing some geocaching.

Geocaching has become a very popular hobby/sport for people who like to hike and are looking for something fun to do while outside, whether locally or abroad. It's basically a world-wide treasure hunt game that anyone can get involved in, as long as you have a hand-held GPS unit and a bit of patience at times. A little physical endurance doesn't hurt either.

The premise is this: people hide small containers with trinkets (called "caches"), they use their GPS unit to record the exact location of the cache, they then post those coordinates on the geocaching website. Everyone else can use those coordinates to go out and try to find the cache. Once found, the custom is to take an item but also leave another item behind. Sign the log book and you're done. You can record your finds on the geocaching site. I've seen some people with thousands of finds to their names.

It may seem simplistic, but even with exact GPS figures, you will still need to thrash around in the bush to find the actual container. It's not always as easy as it sounds. The beauty of the game is that you get the opportunity to explore natural areas, trails and parks that you likely won't find in any guidebook.

All you need to get started is a basic GPS unit, and some trinkets to start trading with. A local dollar store is a good place to shop. Keychains, buttons, small toys, stickers and patches all make excellent trade items. You shouldn't spend too much money. Its not necessary nor expected.There are other geocaching products that you can buy, once you decide you are hooked on the sport.

If you simply trade items each time, then you won't need to purchase anything else. If you prefer to keep some of your finds, then you will need new trade items for future caches. Even so, it's not an expensive hobby. My geocaching pack is covered in dangly keychains that I have accumulated. Or you can skip the prizes altogether and just sign the log book.

So once you have your GPS unit and some goodies, you're ready to get started. Visit www.geocaching.com and create an account. Then use their search functions to look for caches in your area, or in the area you are travelling too. Read through the descriptions to find caches that interest you. There are difficulty ratings as well as terrain descriptions. Enter the coordinates into your GPS, and off you go to find your cache.

Once found, sign the logbook if the cache has one and trade an item. Make sure to re-hide the cache just like you found it. Later, you can log back onto the website and add that cache to your list of finds.

Most caches are in natural areas like parts, walking trails and other wild places. The descriptions will usually describe the park or area, so you can get to the right location without having to follow your GPS right from your front door.

There are caches all through the USA and Canada, and across the globe. Adding some geocaching to your vacation plans may lead you to stumble onto some wonderful new sights.

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    • bluerabbit profile image

      bluerabbit 

      10 years ago

      Sounds like fun.

    • Terri Paajanen profile imageAUTHOR

      Terri Wilson 

      10 years ago from someplace in Canada

      Well adventurer, I can honestly say I never even thought of that. I check the map with each cache to get an idea of the area, whether it's a public set of trails or whatever. If you're going somewhere you're not familiar with, I suppose there could be a risk. Check the logs for that cache and see what othre people have said. If 35 other people have visited it without a problem, you could feel safer.

    • profile image

      adventurer 

      10 years ago

      when traveling and visiting geocaches, how do you know if you are being directed to a bad area?

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      11 years ago from San Francisco

      I love geocaching. It's brought out new dimensions while traveling, and we've found some hidden gems near home too.

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