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How to Use a Geocaching Travel Bug or Geocoin

Updated on November 14, 2012
An official Geocaching Travel Bug
An official Geocaching Travel Bug | Source

You are out enjoying nature or exploring a park in a new city. You are using your smartphone's GPS feature to track a never-before-discovered geocache. When you finally find the cache box, there's something different inside. Now what? Do you take it with you?

Did you find a mysterious silver bug or a unique coin with a code inscribed on the back?

What is this thing? And what are you supposed to do with it?

You have likely stumbled upon a travel bug or geocoin, also known as a trackable in the world of geocaching. Consider yourself lucky. You've just become part of a bigger game!

Trackables add to the adventure and create an opportunity to connect with other treasure hunters across the globe. Place the coin or bug in a different cache and you can watch it travel to new and interesting places. It may even come back to your neck of the woods eventually.

What is a Travel Bug?

What are Geocoins and Travel Bugs?

A geocoin is a specially minted coin designed to be a type of calling card for groups of geocachers, clubs or individuals. Each coin has a tracking ID number that is activated through the website.

Coins are placed in caches to be found and moved from place to place, collecting stories and gathering travel miles. Since they are small, they can be placed in almost any size cache, from the standard size ammo box to the micro-caches used for the most challenging treasure hunts.

Travel Bugs are similar to geocoins in their purpose. They resemble military dog tags and can be placed on their own or attached to a particular object (anything from a figurine to a cinder block). They also have tracking codes and are left to be found by geocachers with the intention of traveling to a particular place or traveling the globe.

Finding a cache at Mine Hill Preserve in Roxbury, CT
Finding a cache at Mine Hill Preserve in Roxbury, CT | Source

What to do with your Travel Bug or Geocoin

  • Start by logging in to the website.Sign up for a free membership. If you are a serious geocacher (or plan to be) sign up for a premium membership which will give you additional information on caches and allow you to create a custom profile.
  • Track the coin by entering the number code. See where this particular coin or bug originated and how far it traveled to get to you. The site will show you the distance this bug has traveled.
  • Log your find to let the original owner know that you have found it.
  • What is the travel goal the bug? Did the owner want to see it travel across the US? Did they want it to go to China? Where can you place the coin, in a cache to be found by another thrill seeker, that will help it reach it's final destination?
  • Get out and find a new cache to place it in!
  • Go back to the site to log where the coin or bug is placed, so others can be on the look out and help it continue it's journey.

Planting a new Travel Bug

Are you ready to get in on the fun and send out a travel bug or geocoin of your own? Trackables ranging from standard travel bugs to custom created coins can be ordered online.

When you receive your coin, log in to the site to activate it.

Where would you like to see your bug travel? Geocachers are always happy to send it in the right direction for you! Do you want to create a brand new cache in your favorite place to launch your bug? Will you attach your bug to something special?

When you are ready, place your bug or coin in a cache. Mention it on the cache's log so other treasure seekers will know to look for it!

Why Geocache?

There are nearly 2 million geocaches all over the world and over 5 million registered geocachers searching for them daily. Get into the game by creating new caches, discovering the ones in your area and sending out trackables for others to enjoy along with you!

Be careful! This inexpensive hobby that combines nature and technology can quickly become an addiction. It may take you to amazing new places, inspire you climb a mountain or explore a cave or help you discover a beautiful spot in your own neighborhood.


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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Sounds like a very neat hobby. Although I have heard of geocaching, I had not heard of geocoins. I've never participated but would like to give it a try, as we enjoy adventure, mystery and hikes. Thanks for writing about this.

    • Jenna Estefan profile image

      Jenna Estefan 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I hadn't heard of geocaching before, sounds fun! I was surprised to read that there are over 5 million geocachers searching daily. Thanks for sharing.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Texas

      This was a hobby of my late husbands. We don't do it as often as we did, but every once and a while we go on a geocache. Thanks for the info, learned something today!

    • Michael Tully profile image

      Michael Tully 5 years ago

      Most informative, Amy. I suppose I don't get out enough, because I had never heard of geocaching until I read this article. Sounds like a pretty neat hobby, not unlike the scavenger hunts we used to do when I was a kid. Thanks for the info.