Geocaching 101: Free Entertainment for the Entire Family

If you're anything like a lot of families on vacation, you're always looking for budget friendly activities the entire family will enjoy. We thought this would be the perfect time to introduce you to Geocaching.  Do you love the outdoors? Do you love a good challenge? Do you love to explore new places? If you answered yes to any of these questions then there is no doubt you'll love it. Geocaching is a world wide treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to help lead you to the hidden treasure. If this sound like fun to you, keep reading! We want to give you the basics to get you started on a new exciting adventure.

First Things First

First, you'll need some sort of GPS device.  Most geocachers use their smart phone with the GPS enabled. Also on your smart phone you'll need to download the geocaching app (we'll get to that next). Before you get started you'll need to go the and create an account. At the top right corner of the home page is the SIGN UP button. You'll have the choice to sign up using your Facebook account or follow the steps to create an account without Facebook. You'll be asked to create a user name. This will be the name you use to sign the logs in the geocaches. Make it something good!

Go Hunting!

Once your account is created, you are ready to download the Geocaching App. You'll log in the app with the log in name and password created on the website. Here's a little tip: Click "FIND A NEARBY GEOCACHE"  and go find it before you take your kids with you. Kids are a little more impatient when it comes to not finding them and if you can't find the very first one right off the bat then they may just decide geocaching isn't their thing. We don't want that! So, go find the first one THEN take the kids to find it too! You can stand back and watch them search.  One more little piece of advice for the your first one: Be sure the difficulty level isn't too high. There's a small bar graph on each listed geocache with the difficulty level. Start off easy and work your way up to the hard ones.  Geocaches are literally EVERYWHERE! No matter where you are located there are sure to be some to be found, big and small, easy and difficult.

What You Need.

 Alright, your very first geocache has been found and you are officially hooked.  When you head out the door to do some geocaching be sure the have the following things with you:

  • GPS enabled phone
  • Bug spray. Yes, there will be critters!
  • Water. Stay hydrated.
  • Sunblock. Being outside this is a no-brainer.
  • Close toed shoes.  Ask us how we know!
  • Your Geo-Senses. This comes to you after you've found some.
  • Optional: Swag. Little goodies to hide/trade in geocache containers.
  • Optional: Hiking Sticks. The great outdoors can sometimes grow a little tall and there are also creepy crawlies that need to be shoed away.
Geocachers have a language all their own. Muggles, trackables, coins, bug, DNF, FTF can all be found when you are out searching.  Muggles are people that may be around that have no clue what you're doing or what geocaching is. Most muggles are harmless but unfortunately some like to vandalize geocaches, steal them or throw them away. You have to be careful who sees you searching to avoid this happening. In our experience, people are generally interested in what we're searching for and may even offer to help. In larger cache containers you may find "trackables" or "bugs". These are trackable items with a code on it. The code should be logged when you find it and then again when you replace it in another cache. This is a great geography lesson for kids. Log on to your account online and you'll be able to see where in the world this trackable has been! When you find a cache be sure to log that you found it. DNF=Did not find and FTF=First to find. We are all hoping for a smiley face though-that means you found it!
Now that you have the basics to geocaching, set aside a day and head out to find some! Remember, they are tricky so clue into your geosenses!
Happy Caching! Be sure to look out for muggles!

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