Ready to start your new hobby?! Finally deciding to look into that strange treasure hunting activity you’ve heard from your friend? Read my article “What is Geocaching? Definition, Origin, and Adventure” as a quick reminder of the community you are about to join.
- Go to Geocaching.com.
Geocaching is free! Click “Sign Up” to start basic membership! If you find you really love the hobby, want to support the community, and would like access to more features and geocaches, sign up for the premium membership.
- Choose Your Geo-Name.
Right away, you get to start thinking creatively! You get to choose the name you’ll write on log sheets and what other geocachers will know you by. Your name is your secret identity that can always be changed later.
- Download a Geocaching App.
I’ve used the same geocaching app for years. Even though I do have a GPS, I’ve found the app to be very reliable and house all the necessary information I need while geocaching. Therefore, I will explain geocaching only through app use, since that’s where my experience lies.
- Grab the Required Geocaching Tools.
You’ll need a smartphone (or GPS) and a pencil/pen for sure. If you plan to trade objects inside the container (swag), make sure you pack those too. Good swag consists of small kids’ toys to keychains and other knick-knacks. Think G-rated, neat items that you’d like to find. No food.
- Sign into the App and Search for Nearby Geocaches.
Boom! Hopefully you get to choose from a plethora of geocaches for your first adventure, maybe right across the street or at your favorite park.
- Select a Geocache.
As a beginner, you want your first outing to be successful and fun. To narrow down your search results for an easier geocache, use the following information.
- Type – various types of geocaches exist, but the most common is the traditional cache, a green icon on the app (the upper left picture). Traditional geocaches are a one-stop container: you load the coordinates and follow the map to the geocache. Check out the picture below if you’d like to see the other kinds, which I will explain in later posts.
- Difficulty – the level of difficulty of the geocache’s camouflage or if special equipment is required; 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult)
- Terrain – the level of difficultly to access the geocache, the physical terrain of where the geocache is located, which could include a long hike or low-maintenance road; 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult)
- Size – the size of the geocache; the following image gives an idea of how large each size container is. Keep in mind that geocaches can be anything, a hollowed out log, a fake sprinkler head, etc.
- Description – the description includes information the geocache owner would like to let you know about the location or what to expect during the search.
- Hint – help while looking for a geocache, if the geocache owner is kind enough!
- Recent Logs – geocachers have logged their finds or did not finds (DNFs); see what they have said about the hunting experience.
***I suggest choosing a difficulty of 1 to 2, terrain of 1 to 2, and a medium to extra-large sized traditional container. Check over the description and read recent logs, so you know the geocache has been found and is in the right spot. Pictures may also be included, but they may contain spoilers.
- Get within 30 Feet of the Geocache.
Use your app to travel within 30 or so feet from the geocache. Start looking for possible hiding spots, such as a pile of rocks or sticks. One other hint, if you’re in an urban parking lot, those light post skirts can usually lift up!
- Sign the Log Sheet.
Once you find the geocache, grab your pen or pencil and sign your geo-name! You can also trade swag, discover trackables, or drop trackables.
- Trade for equal or greater value for swag.
- Only take trackables you can help on their mission – view this mission on your app under “inventory.”
- “Discover” a trackable (leaving it to be picked up by someone else) and “Grab” a trackable (taking it with you to help it on its mission) are two different actions – make sure you choose the right one when logging.
***See the article “What are Trackables?.” Basically, they are items that travel from geocache to geocache with a code to follow them online. You log these separately from the geocache.
- Log the Find.
Write your log on your app, stating you found the geocache (or perhaps you scored a DNF and will have to return; it took me three times to find my first geocache!). As a geocache owner, I appreciate hearing a little about the finder’s experience or what he/she thought of the container, especially if it required a little extra time or money to create. Make sure to write a “Needs Maintenance” post if the geocache needs some TLC.
- Plan the Next Adventure!
Grab a friend or family member and go explore!
If you’re interested in this topic or would like to see another person’s perspective, check out the resources below! I enjoy reading about and watching other geocachers’ experiences, and I’d like to share a few sites I’ve found while writing this post. Do you have a geocaching related vlog, blog, or social media page? Let me know!
- “Finding your First Geocache” on Geocaching.com (article)
- “Geocaching 101: Finding Your First Geocache” on Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page (article)
- “Geocaching with Kids: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt” on Family Sponge (article)
- “An Introduction to Geocaching, My Family’s Favorite Frugal Activity” on The Simple Dollar (article)
- “Finding a Geocache” by Geocaching.com (video)
- “My FIRST geocaching EVER” by Asa of spades (video) – remember to not leave food in the container, for bugs or animals might infest or destroy the geocache.
- “My first Geo Cache Find” by Voodoo8648 (video)