No matter where we go in the world we always take the time to geocache.
It might be a quick day trip, a weekend stay, a week-long trip, or a month travelling around, but we will always dedicate some of our time to this hobby that we both enjoy doing.
Never heard of it?
Well, calling it a worldwide treasure hunt is probably the best and quickest way to explain it. People (millions of people) have hidden millions of small containers all over the world and the goal is to find them and record your finding with the person who hid it. It’s a great way to get off the beaten track and stumble upon new places that you wouldn’t have likely gone to otherwise.
Geocachers use the SatNav/GPS on their mobile/cell phones to connect with multi-million dollar satellites in order to find Tupperware boxes in the woods, tiny magnetic containers under a park bench, or a film canister hidden in a tree – yes, we’re not joking.
You can sign up by either visiting their website or downloading the app, and it lets you view all of the caches near you. A ‘cache’ is the actual thing that you’re finding, which can be hidden anywhere (with some limitations).
Don’t worry, you do get some help. The coordinates are posted for each cache and the app guides you towards it using both a map and, when you get close, a compass. It tells you how much further you have to go and in what direction you should be going.
If you still struggle, there’s usually a clue that the cache owner posts to help you. Reference this and it should narrow down the exact location. Sometimes the clues are obvious but they can also be rather vague, to make you think.
When you find the cache you open it, sign the logbook (a rolled up piece of paper, a notebook, etc.), browse any items that it holds (if it’s big enough), trade any items that you wish to (this is something kids like to get involved in), and put it back together. It’s extremely important to put everything back exactly how you found it!
It’s also extremely important to make sure that nobody witnesses you doing this. A person who doesn’t know what geocaching is called a Muggle (Harry Potter fans will enjoy that!).
Muggles have the potential to disrupt the hobby because they may want to know what you’re doing. If they see you sneaking around some bushes or staring at a lamppost for longer than a regular person should, they may want to have a peak once you leave. If they find the cache but don’t know what it is or what it’s for, they won’t know to put it back in the right place, ruining the find for the next cacher to come along.
Now that you know a bit more about what geocaching is, you might be asking why we enjoy doing it so much, especially when we’re travelling.
Well, we have come up with our top five reasons for geocaching on our trips below.
1.) You can discover hidden-gem locations
As we touched on above, caches are hidden anywhere and everywhere. There are caches hidden across all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica), in the middle of main squares in capital cities, on back-country roads, in tunnels leading underground, high up in trees, underwater, and at beautiful viewpoints. We can’t keep track of the number of times that looking for a cache has led us to amazing scenery or shown us a cute hidden corner of a neighbourhood.
A good system is set in place where you can give a cache a favourite point if it really stands out to you. For example, you might be impressed with the thought and design behind it, or you might think the location is great. Whenever we go to a new place, we look at the app on our phone, see what’s nearby and sort the caches by favourite points so the highest ones are at the top. We will always find at least the top-rated cache (Krysta will often ask to find more, but James reigns her obsession in by limiting her – we wouldn’t get anything else done on the trip otherwise).
We find the best caches are in more remote locations, as opposed to inside major cities, so we try to look for the highest rated cache outside the city limits. Of course this isn’t always possible if you don’t have transportation to get there or if you’re doing a city break, but if you can get to the countryside, we would recommend it. That doesn’t mean cities don’t have great caches though! We’ve found some great ones smack in the centre of the busiest streets you can imagine.
2.) It keeps you fit
Geocaching keeps you on the move. It is possible to drive and cache, but it will only get you so far. Many caches are hidden within city centres or dotted along walking paths, where cars and other vehicles can’t reach. That often means that you’re left with just your feet to get to that hidden plastic container in the woods!
You’ll be taken up hills and mountains, down valleys, across streams, through the woods, on cliff edges, and up trees, and you’ll be walking, running, jumping, crawling, leaning, biking and hiking to get there.
Once you find one, you’ll want to find another. Then another. Then another. You won’t even feel the exercise part of Geocaching once you get into it because your focus will be on your drive to find the next cache!
3.) You’ll meet other cachers
It doesn’t happen loads, but once in a while you will run into another cacher, or cachers, while you’re on the hunt. It’s a bit weird at first because you assume that they’re muggles (and they’ll assume the same about you too), so both parties just stand around looking awkward waiting for the others to leave.
As you do that, thoughts run through your mind: “Are they cachers too? No, they can’t be. What are the chances that two groups would be looking for it at the same time? But they keep looking at us, maybe they are…”. Finally, after a few good minutes, one of you will be brave enough to make the move and ask if the other group are cachers.
So far, we haven’t been wrong with this assumption. It often gives it away when you throw awkward sideways glances at each other for about five minutes, but you would still feel silly if they said, “No, what in the world is geocaching?!” (Although now we could point them at this post!).
It’s always interesting to have a chat with the other group to learn where they’re from, if they’re on holiday, for how long, etc. Then you get to bond over finding the cache itself, which often gives a good laugh or two. You take turns signing the logbook, replace it so it’s home, then you can go your separate ways or continue to hunt for more caches together.
You only meet for a matter of minute sometimes, but you never know who you will run into or what their background is. It shows that geocaching really is a worldwide hobby, and that’s another reason why you’ll be hooked!
4.) Inexpensive way to have fun
There’s a start-up cost to caching, of course, with needing a device with a SatNav/GPS on it, but most people already have these nowadays anyway. Once you have a mobile phone or a SatNav/GPS, you’re set. You can download the free app on your mobile, make an account and go from there.
If you really do enjoy the hobby and want to get more involved, you can pay for the Premium Membership – not that it’ll break the bank. This means you can find premium-only caches, hide a cache yourself, as well as give you access to a handful of other upgrades to your account.
All types of people cache, whether it be a single person, a couple, or a family. The affordability of this hobby makes it great for everyone, regardless of your financial situation. You could spend a whole weekend geocaching and not spend very much at all!
So go on, find a caching series (a collection of caches made in the same area by the same geocacher) in a nearby area, take a picnic and some water bottles, dress warmly, and hit the trails for a full day out – bring the kids too, they’ll love it!
5.) Who doesn’t like a worldwide treasure hunt?!
The last reason that we enjoy geocaching so much is that it is a worldwide treasure hunt, which just sounds fun. It also reminds you of a simpler time when you’d play outside after school, running around and getting dirty. You would hunt for things with your friends and turn everything into a competition. With geocaching you can continue to do this well into your 60s – and who wouldn’t want to do that?
You’ll find yourself wandering through fields, cities and villages, or over hills and across lakes all over the world with a smile on your face. Of course, you’ll also be fighting your way through mud puddles and being pelted with rain but hey, it’s all part of the adventure!
Geocaching is a great hobby to enjoy whether you’re at home or on a holiday. The number of caches out there is in the millions, so you’ll never run out of new ones to find, and it’s great to see the creativity that some people put into their caches.
Have you geocached before? Do you cache while you travel? If you haven’t tried it before, are you interested in trying it now?