Geocaching for Beginners

I’ve both wanted to try geocaching and been intimidated by it. When it first piqued my interest, I took to google and was discouraged when articles meant for beginners appeared to be advanced. Though I had yet to venture out, I already felt like I was in uncharted waters. Discouraged by descriptions written by the experienced, I set aside the idea. Enter in Pokemon Go. The advent of the app tickled my intrigue again. Why not try the original form of the game before embarking on a quest to find pocket monsters with my kids?!

 

Still, I remained concerned at the complexity of the activity. I had visions of being in the wilderness with my two preschoolers completely lost looking for a needle in a haystack. Determined, I did what any person in need of advice does in this day and age. I took to facebook and asked my friends for their tips and tricks. I’m proud to say that today, my kids and I set out on our first geocaching adventure and it was so much fun! Here are my best tips for beginners thanks to my own limited experience and the sage words of my facebook friends.

 

Geocaching Terms for Beginners

  • Geocaching is an activity that requires the use of GPS. You may purchase a device specifically for GPS or use your smartphone. If doing the latter, simply download a geocaching app onto your phone. While there are free options that work decently, they aren’t particularly precise. Purchasing a proper geocaching app will make the entire process much easier for everyone.
  • Caches are what you’re looking for while geocaching. Caches come in a variety of sizes and their size is indicated in the geocaching app. Sizes range from extra small, such as a small metal capsule no bigger than a half inch or a small pill bottle, to a large container big enough to contain multiple small prizes. You will likely be very surprised at how many caches are within walking distance from your own home!
  • Muggles are non-geocachers. Sound a little like Harry Potter to you? Same concept – when searching for your geocache, be somewhat discreet to avoid raising suspicion from any nearby ‘muggles’!

 

two young tourist determine the route map and navigator

 

Geocaching for Beginners: Getting Started

 

1. Ask Your Friends

If you’ve never gone geocaching before, or if you’ve tried without success, I highly recommend asking your friends on Facebook for their advice. Not only will they provide you with words of wisdom, but they may also offer to bring you on your first geocaching adventure!

 

2. Pack a Backpack

Pack a backpack with water, light snacks, sunscreen, tweezers, a fine tipped permanent marker or ball point pen, and small trinkets for trade. The first three items are meant for your family’s comfort. A hiking backpack or a stroller is also great if you’re venturing out with younger kids.  When you find caches where you are to mark your name and the date you found the cache having a marker and tweezers is great. Because the scrolls where you mark your name can be quite small, it is helpful to have tweezers on hand to place the scroll back into its little container. The small trinkets, such as never opened McDonald’s toys or dollar store finds, are used to exchange for goodies when you find bigger caches with prizes.

 

3. Download a Geocaching App

Again, a paid version seems to be substantially easier to use than the free version. The free one notifies you that you’re within 30 feet of a given cache. With two young, eager kids in tow that leaves too much space to comb through blindly. Paying approximately $10 is worth it.

 

Woman checking compass app on her smartphone while hiking in forest.

4. Time to Explore!

Once the app is downloaded and opened, it will show you your location along with all of the nearby caches. Select one and head out in its direction. Read the hints and descriptions of the cache you’ve selected. Things like, “cache is hanging” or “the cache is a pill bottle painted black,” all help greatly with finding the items.
Enjoy! My little geocachers had a blast trekking through our neighbourhood and the paths behind our home. Geocaching for beginners does not need to be particularly difficult. It just helps to be well prepared!

 

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