If you’re looking for an easy, fun and inexpensive hobby to get you and your friends and family out of the house, look no further. Geocaching has been around for about 15 years. It began with one man in Oregon hiding a black plastic bucket full of books, games, money, videos, food and even a slingshot. Once he posted the GPS coordinates of the location online for others to have fun finding it, “geocaching” was born. There are many more variations of the game to up the excitement level, but let’s just get you started!
GEOCaching on a Budget
- Buying a GPS Device For Geocaching: If you’re looking to start geocaching, you’ll probably need a GPS device. This handy guide tells you what features to look for in a GPS system.
- GPS Reviews For Geocaching: This website has detailed reviews of different brand and models of GPS systems. The list can help you get a good idea of how much it will cost, too.
- What is The Best GPS For Geocaching?: This is essentially a combo of the two previous sources. A list of features you need and a list of specific models to consider.
- Hiking GPS Buying Guide: Consumer Reports reviewed the best GPS for hiking. This is differentiated from models that are really meant to be used in a fast-moving car on freeways and streets rather than off the beaten path.
- Basic Geocaching Equipment: You might need more than a GPS navigator. This website gives you an idea of other things you should consider for your geocaching kit.
- How to Choose a Backpack: How to choose and customize your Backpack to fit most comfortably for your geocaching, hiking, and other outdoors needs.
GeoCache Apps for iPhone
- Geocaching Toolkit iGCT: Here’s more information about a free geocaching iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch app.
- Geocaching With Geosphere: This app is a bit better and has more features than the one above. It costs about $8 and includes amazing graphics, improved mapping and more.
- Geocaching Buddy – Another premium app, this one is known for its “geocaching live” feature. It can even record your parking spot in case you get lost.
- Geocaching By Groundspeak Inc: One of the more popular apps, this one contains over 2 million geocaches that will keep you busy. It also comes in over 12 languages.
- Looking4Cache Pro: This app is linked with one of the most heavily trafficked geocaching websites. It also boasts an impressive 2 million geocaches, although the layout can take some getting used to.
- A Beginner’s Step by Step Guide to Geocaching (PDF): From the University of Connecticut, this PDF will give you a step-by-step list of ways to get started in the geocaching world.
- Everything On Geocaching: Start here if want a lot of facts! This is a Wiki on the basics as well as the history, technology, ethics and other ins and outs of geocaching.
- Geocaching, How To Get Started: This outdoors website gives you another neat breakdown of the hobby as well as different game variations that you might encounter.
- Geocaching 101: Watch a short video on this website and check out the frequently asked questions section as well as its short glossary of terms.
Get Started Geocaching With The Kids
- High-Tech Treasure Hunt Gets Kids Outdoors: The National Wildlife Foundation wrote this article about their geocaching program through the Ranger Rick Magazine.
- Geocaching With Kids: This article gives you a few good reasons why you might want to start geocaching with your kids. There are also links for more information on using geocaching as an educational tool.
- Geocaching With Kids: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt: This is a blog with fun videos and personal pictures illustrating a family’s geocaching adventures with two young kids.
GeoCache Apps for Android
- CacheSense: This is a paid app with a reasonable price that allows you to access Geocaching Live. It also supports Google navigation.
- C:Geo: This is a great app if you’d like to keep track of your finds and drops. You can also search for specific kinds of geocaches.
- Geocaching by GroundSpeak: Hint: This app contains hints! This would be an especially good app if you’re planning to do this with young children.
- Neongeo – Geocaching: You can try the free demo of this app and get up to 3 geocache listings per day. Their premium upgraded app only costs $4.26.
- a:Drake: This app is designed to work offline, meaning you do not have to have an internet connection while geocaching. Of course, this is great for extended battery life.
Ready to get started with your budget-friendly hobby?
Geocaching traditionally involves hiding a container with a log book and a small “treasure.” The coordinates are then shared online through a geocaching website or app. Some geocachers prefer to use hints, puzzles and vague clues to guide you. When you find the cache, you sign the logbook and can take the treasure as long as you replace it with something of equal or greater value.
Luckily this fun, family-friendly hobby is easy on the budget, especially if you already own a GPS device or a smartphone. Here are a couple of things you should consider when starting out.
Find a good geocache resource: To access a geocache database, you’ll need to sign up with one of the many geocaching websites. Some cost money, while others are free. Some offer premium memberships that allow you access to different kinds of caches. Whatever you start out with, remember you’re not locked in. You can try demos or cancel your first subscription if you find another website you like better.
Get your “survival kit” together: A geocache can be hidden near the playground at the end of the street or it can be along a hiking trail or in a state or national park. Make sure you’re prepared for the length and exertion of your particular geocache.
Your kit may include the following items:
- A good pair of shoes
- A GPS system
- A cell phone (in case of emergencies and for general reference)
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Water and snacks
- A backpack
- A “treasure” to leave in the cache
- A camera
- A notepad, pen and calculator (in case you have to solve puzzles to find the cache)
Learn the etiquette: Veteran geocachers have established a code of honor when it comes to their caches. These can include common sense rules and basic courtesy. For instance, never take a prize or treasure from a cache without leaving your own. Because many children are engaged in geocaching, never leave profane or violent material or any dangerous objects like drugs, knives, etc.
Always put the cache back where you found it. Don’t use the container to start your own cache somewhere else. This means the next person using the same information that led you to the cache will be led to nothing. That’s quite a disappointing experience!
Create your own caches: On that note, don’t forget to contribute to the geocaching community yourself. There tend to be far more seekers than “planters” of caches. Once you’re familiar with how the process works, put together your own cache in a watertight container (many people use old Tupperware), and establish your own coordinates, puzzles, and clues to provide a day of fun for someone else!
One last note on safety:
- We would like to end by giving a few more common sense tips for safety.
- Do not put yourself or anyone else at risk of bodily harm in order to reach or place a cache
- Avoid geocaching at night, especially in unfamiliar areas
- Wear sunscreen and bug repellant, as needed
- Always bring water, just in case!
- Make sure your phone and GPS device are fully charged before you head out!
Are you ready? Gather your supplies and start treasure hunting!
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