Are you still a Muggle? Or have you caught the Geocaching bug yet?
Geocaching seems to be everywhere. Literally everywhere. Currently there are over 1.8 million locations worldwide and that number is growing daily. I kept hearing about geocaching but wasn’t sure what it was so I decided it was time to do some investigating into this new pastime.
In a nutshell, geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game for adventure seekers of all ages around the world. Players have hidden millions of “caches” for you to find literally in every corner of the world. A cache is a small container (not always small – they do vary in size) which contains a log sheet for you to record your team’s arrival and the date that you found the cache. If the cache is big enough it may contain a small treasure. You may take the treasure as long as you trade it for something that you have brought with you of equal or greater value.
Players find the hidden caches by using GPS coordinates and often additional clues to narrow the search further at the location. With a GPS unit or GPS enabled smart phone players navigate their “team” to the hidden spots and try to locate the cache. A team can be one or more people – it’s totally up to you.
Once you locate the cache in its secret hiding spot, you put it back exactly where you found it for the next team to discover and leave a note online for the cache owner detailing your visit for them and future visitors to read about. You can also leave notes indicating if you could not find it, if the cache needs maintenance or anything else that might help future players.
And the best part? It’s free. You can sign up for a free account on geocaching.com, create a user name and start locating treasure near your current coordinates (there is also a premium service available for a fee).
Keep in mind that you definitely need a GPS enabled device. I also decided to download the Geocaching App for my phone and that made things super easy on the go but it’s not mandatory. As a novice player, I would also recommend tennis or hiking shoes (no flip flops!), bug spray, a pencil and maybe even a hat as you are definitely outside and some of the terrain may require you to tromp off trail. We have also learned to read the description of the cache you are seeking carefully as some are out in the open and easy to find making them great for younger seekers and others may require that you hike off trail or though difficult terrain which make them a better fit for those without small children.
You can also plan a trip using geocaching to break it up along the way. So far my family has found caches along a roadtrip we have taken though the middle of America to great success and new experiences. Kids and adults have both enjoyed the “game” as we have played it. It’s a nice way to see your own destination in a new way or experience a destination in a way you may not have expected. You may also meet other players along the way which is a great additional benefit we have discovered.
Have you tried Geocaching yet? What’s the most unique cache you have found so far? Share your experiences in the comments below or on the Gray Line Facebook page. (Click here if you can’t see comments: Geocaching Fever)