Travel bugs, geocoins, pathtags, extagz, cachekinz, proxies, and cache buddies are all words you may have heard to describe trackables. On the very basic level, all of these items are meant to travel – either on a mission or between geocachers. I’ll explain the purpose of each of these, how to log them, and general rules and knowledge of trackables. I’ve also included pictures of my own collection; I’d love to see yours! Please share a picture of your trackables in the comments or tag me on Instagram or Twitter with @GeoJangie.
Classic travel bugs are shaped like dog tags and engraved with a code. I have seen these small rectangular pieces in silver, black, blue, green, and pink. Cachekinz and cache buddies are virtually the same as dog tags, using the same metal with codes, but created in a variety of animals and shapes. If you find one of these in a geocache, in person, or online you can:
- Discover: Go to your app or geocaching.com to log that you saw the trackable using its code; check the mission to see if the owner would like anything specific in your log.
- Grab from GC****: Before you take the trackable, make sure you can help it on its mission, or goal. You don’t need to trade for a trackable, but at TB hotels it is nice to leave a guest in another’s place.
- Grab from Somewhere Else: At times, trackables go missing or do not show up in a geocache’s inventory correctly. You may also swap trackables with another geocacher to help them on their journey.
- Visit: If you have a trackable in your possession, you can let it visit geocaches, while helping it on its mission.
When purchasing a travel bug (or cachekinz, cache buddy, etc.), you’ll have to activate it. Depending on what store you bought the trackable, you might first have to find an activation code on a different site before setting up the trackable’s page on the official geocaching website. I enjoy adding a hitchhiker (toy or charm) to accompany my TB on its journeys.
Geocoins are tracked, logged, and activated the same as travel bugs, cachekinz, cache buddies, etc. However, they often stay with their owners, since they are more expensive and may represent an achievement, for example finding one thousand geocaches. In these cases, an owner may release a proxy, an item with the geocoin’s trackable code. Then they can use the code to travel around the world, while keeping their geocoin safe at home. Proxies can be used for any trackable item and are easily made by printing off a business-like card with a mission, laminating it, and adding a hitchhiker.
Miscellaneous Trackable Items
Trackable codes can be bought on geocaching.com in bulk at $1.50 each and added to just about anything. People may also purchase the dog tags, typically the cheapest option, and use the code, creating very unique proxies. I’ve seen pictures of trackable tattoos, dog collar items, t-shirts, necklaces, and car stickers.
A few general rules are: do not keep a trackable for more than two weeks, do not take a trackable you can’t help on its journey, and try to keep trackables out of geocaches that have a high-risk of getting muggled.
When creating a new trackable, consider attaching your item’s mission and a hitchhiker, such as a keychain, trinket, stuffed animal, or other personal touch. Do not place anything with a trackable that you don’t want to lose, because even though I wish it wasn’t true, trackables go missing quite often.
Pathtags are typically small, quarter-sized coins with a hole in them. Recently, they have upgraded to include any shape, “pathtag minis.” When you find one of these in a geocache, you are welcomed to treat it as swag (a tradeable) and swap it for something of greater or equal value (pathtags run at about $2-$3 each). You can either trade the pathtag again at another geocache or keep it. If you decide to keep it, you can log it on pathtags.com, where you’ll need to create an account. From there, you can also design and purchase your own customized pathtags, a cheap alternative to personalized trackable items, such as a geocoin. Using them as your geocaching signature item, you can see who’s crossed your path, since each pathtag is logged by the location where they are found and who found them, typically the person’s (geo-)name. Pathtaggers also trade online and have formed their own community.
Above this paragraph is a picture of my current collection, and below it, are my three personal pathtags. After my first tag, the blue one with a tree, I’ve hired a design artist to help me take my vision to tag-form. The last tag was modeled after a picture that I took during our honeymoon in Montana. I’ve been creating one tag a year, since they are rather expensive for my budget.
Extagz follow essentially the same idea as pathtags, but at a lower cost. Extagz.com offers certain options year round, such as specialty finishes, that pathtags.com does not. However, their website and community is slightly less advanced than pathtags.com’s, in my opinion.
I have a few extagz I’ve received in trades or through drawings on Instagram. As you can see, they look extremely similar to pathtags.
Go to my trackable page to see where my geocaching items have traveled!
Do you have any trackable suggestions or stories to share? Which do you prefer, pathtags or extagz? Why? What is the most novel trackable you’ve seen?