What is Geocaching? Let’s start from the beginning!

What is Geocaching? Let’s start from the beginning!

Today I am going to introduce you one of my favourite hobbies and games ever! Have you ever heard about Geocaching? No? So, let’s start from the beginning!

geocache small items logbook official
This is a small “traditional” geocache!

Geocaching

/ˈdʒiːə(ʊ)kaʃɪŋ/ noun: geocaching

“An activity or pastime in which an item, or a container holding a number of items. Also, it is hidden at a particular location for GPS users to find by means of coordinates posted on the Internet.”



When and where did Geocaching start?

“GPS Stash Hunt” (known today as “Geocaching”) started in the evening of 3rd May 2000 in Oregon, USA. It was just the day after the White House announced the removal of the disturbing signal called “Selective Availability”.  With the “Select Availability” active the civil GPS Signal was inaccurate of over 100 meters. When the White House processed the new orders, twenty-four satellites around the globe immediately stopped disturbing the civil GPS signal and the accuracy of GPS technology improved tenfold. The announcement came as a welcome surprise to everyone who worked with GPS technology!

But, who invented Geocaching?

To test the accuracy of his GPS unit, Dave Ulmer hid the first “stash” on the hills of Portland, a box that today we would call “cache” or “geocache”. The box contained books, videotapes, software, a can of beans, a notepad and a pen. Ulmer sent the coordinates of the hiding place on the newsgroup “sci.geo.satellite-nav”, together with a message called “The Great GPS Stash Hunt” which explained the logic of his idea. The idea was really appreciated! In a few days, the group’s members began to create new “stashes” in the US and after a month Australia had its first cache!



So, What is Geocaching all about?

“Geocaching is a real-world outdoor adventure that is happening all the time, all around the world.” (Source: www.geocaching.com)


How does Geocaching work?

To play, you need:

First of all, you need to create an account on Geocaching.com (you can do it also by the app!). The website will ask for some information to create your personal profile. Just email address, password and nickname are required; together with other few things to personalise it such as a profile picture and a little description of yourself.


TIME TO PLAY!

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  1. Open the Geocaching App to check whether there are caches near you (probably yes!). Start by choosing one of them and walk, drive, cycle… towards the coordinates to find it
  2. Once you have found the cache, open it and check what is inside. If you are lucky you will find lots of little treasures within, as in a real time capsule! Surely there is the logbook: a little diary with all the signatures and the comments of who found the cache before you, add your name on it! 
    (Tip: a good Geocacher has always a pen, often there is no pen inside the cache or, if there is, it might not work anymore. It happened to me I found a cache and I could not sign the logbook, so sad!). 
  3. Hence, now that you signed the logbook and hid properly the cache again, you need to update your Geocaching profile by the app. Can you see the big green button saying “Log Geocache“? Guess what… Click on it! Leave a comment and a photo if you like! The owner and whoever is “watching the cache” will be happy to see a souvenir photo of it. 


Into the cache: What to leave?

Geocache opened items inside ideas memories logbook pen GPS
The Geocachers’ ideas are endless!

Every time you find a cache it may contain lots of little items inside. The Geocachers’ ideas are endless! And that is certainly the funniest part of this treasure hunt! Some of the caches you may find are really old, so that means they carry lots of memories and souvenirs left by other Geocachers. Maybe you can leave your personal souvenir too! There is not an official list of the items you may leave in it, just act correctly avoiding to leave food, adult material, dangerous things or blatant promotional items. Go for unique rather than expensive!


What are Geocaching Trackables?

Geocaching Travel Bug Trackable Tag
A Geocaching’s Trackable very common: The Travel Bug

“Trackables are physical game pieces that move from geocache to geocache.” (Source: www.geocaching.com)


Besides this zillion of things, inside the cache sometimes you could find some little items Geocaching branded: they are Trackables!
When you come across a Trackable you can decide to leave it there or bring it with you to the next cache. In either case, you need to log it, you can do it by the “Search” option of the app by inserting the secret code that you find behind it. As when you log a cache, also for Trackable, you are required to leave a comment and (optionally) a photo. (Tip: upload a photo if you have the chance, it is such amazing to see the path of the Trackable cache by cache!)   

There are four log types:

  • Retrieve, If you decided to pick up a trackable from the geocache.
  • Discover It, If you just wish to say you saw the trackable.
  • Grab it, If you are picking up a Trackable from another cache or another geocacher’s inventory.
  • Write a note, if you like to leave a message to the trackable’s owner.

It just begs the question: can I keep them? 

“In most cases, trackables want to travel. Use the tracking code on the trackable to look up its goal. Log trackables in order to move them along.”  
(Source: www.geocaching.com)  

It is hard to let them go, I know! Since when I have found my first Trackable in Ireland (and after I dropped it in Italy!) I have felt the desire to have an own personalised Trackable. So, I took the chance to give a really special gift to my Geocaching Partner and I bought one for her.   


How do I start my own Trackable?

You can get trackables on the Geocaching website. Types of trackable include: geocoins, tags, t-shirts, and even more! I have chosen for her a “Log My Dog TAG” because she is a devoted pet lover and I have personalised the tag with a photo keyring. You can do the same! First of all, get your favourite Trackable, then give it a goal and finally drop it in a geocache to send it on its way. You will be notified every time a geocacher logs it to follow step by step the path of your game piece. (That is the reason why photos are always super appreciated!)


Geocaching for free or Geocaching Premium?

The Geocache App shows you all the “traditional” (basic) caches nearby. They look like little green boxes on the map (they are a lot, aren’t they?). Then, if you got passionate about Geocaching and you like to upgrade to premium (5,99€/month or 29,99€/year) the Geocaching App will show on the map all the 18 types of caches existing.

I am personally happy with my basic account without the premium upgrade. There are tons of traditional caches all over the world, I haven’t felt (yet) the need to upgrade my free subscription and I am still having lots of fun with Geocaching all the time! Also, the Geocaching website suggests using a GPS device for a better experience, but I always playing Geocaching without a GPS device, just using my iPhone and it works perfectly, I think there is not any handier thing than take off your smartphone from your pocket and starting to play straight away! Furthermore, playing Geocaching with the smartphone leave you free to choose the App that you prefer! In fact, you can find different kinds of App to play Geocaching besides the official one. Check out which is the best for you!


Why is Geocaching a good thing?  

Geocaching is an outdoor activity that everyone can do. 
In 2018, kids, teenagers, as well as adults, do not go outside enough. We are prisoners of this crazy pixel world made of internet connection and bright displays. Even Geocaching is an internet-based game, but it involves a little piece of technology to give the participants the chance to enjoy a real-world adventure. 

I personally do not think that there are any contraindications for Geocaching. It is safe for families with kids, it is possible with pets, it is a fun hobby to do together or alone, and also it could be a really interesting leisure activity for school as well. Moreover, there is not any discrimination in Geocaching: every kind of beginners can participate. In particular, the Traditional Caches (available for free) only have a limited degree of difficulty in terms of terrain and ability: perfect for who is starting!


Can Geocaching be dangerous?

Even harmless activities might become dangerous due to unfair or inattentive participants. 
For this reason, the Geocaching Forum is very active to help you in understand the best behaviour which you should adopt to against unpleasant situations. A few dangerous situations that I can think of are: going looking for a cache that is too difficult to find due to path/terrain difficulty, leaving into a cache sharp things by which someone might get hurt, going looking for a cache in the early evening and getting lost coming back home during the night, looking for a cache close to a busy road. As you probably have already thought while reading these few situations: they can be easily avoided just paying attention and using common sense.
Finally, I honestly do not think there is something bad about Geocaching. Just be respectful with the environment when you place your own cache, please.   

Also, be careful with the muggles (who does not play Geocaching)around you! (Just joking!)


This year, Geocaching turned 18 years old! And with a community of more than 3 million members and geocaches hidden in over 190 countries, it is definitely ready for its road towards 20 and even more! What are you waiting for?

BECOME A GEOCACHER, NOW!

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29 Replies to “What is Geocaching? Let’s start from the beginning!”

  1. What a great article about Geocaching! Written well and it does not miss anything! Well done to you, for encouraging people to have great fun outdoor and safe!

    1. Right! 🙂
      What I like the most is that with Geochaching there is always something new to discover! all the caches are different so it is impossible to get bored!

    1. Thank you, Alice. You’ve made me happy with your words!
      I hope to find another your enthusiastic comment below the next articles as well 🙂

  2. It sounds really interesting! Just one question: I do have windows phone on my smartphone. Does Geocaching app exist for Windows Phone? And is it for free btw?

    1. Hi Simona! Thank you for commenting 🙂
      To be honest I’m not an huge fan of Windows Phone OS and I didn’t know the answer but I have checked online for you and it seems like there isn’t an official Geocaching App available in the Windows Store unfortunately.
      However, there are some good unofficial alternatives that make you able to enjoy the game!
      Here, the best two:
      • Geocaching Plus
      • Maaloo Geocaching

      Let us know which one is your favorite! 😉

  3. It sounds like a very interesting activity and the fact that you talk about ut un such a passionate way really makes me want to give it a try!
    Thanks for your article and hope to read more from you!

    1. Oh, thanks Alessandra! That’s so nice to read!
      Yes, trust me: you should definitely give it a try! It doesn’t cost anything and you won’t regret it, I’m sure.
      Hopefully you’ll find my next articles as interesting as this one! 😉

    1. Very happy to hear this! 🙂
      Geocaches are literally everywhere, and usually they’re located in beautiful (but unusual) locations so you can see the hidden side of a place as well!

  4. Just a question about Geocatching was asked on a Tv Quiz Show very yesterday! Proud of being able to answer after reading your article 😎 Well done, Tania!

    1. No way!!! Really? Now I’m curious: what was the question about? 🙂 Anyway, that’s brilliant: The word about Geocaching is spreading! So proud that you answered correctly after reading my blog 😀

  5. It was quite easy actually (if you know what Geocaching is), as it was about what people do when geocaching 😉 One option was “searching precious stones”….ok, it would sound possible if you don’t have a clue of geocaching haha 😅

    1. Ahaha! Let’s launch a variant of Geocaching with precious stones! 😀
      But all kidding aside, it’s always nice when TV talks about something that you love contributing to spread the word 🙂
      Thank you for letting us know!

  6. Sicuramente il tuo articolo mi ha incuriosita. Chissà che non cominci a vagare per boschi e pianure con l’andamento di un esploratore del futuro!😂

    1. Sono sicura che ti divertiresti un sacco! Gecaching non è solo boschi e pianure, ma anche località marittime, centri città, punti d’interesse! Geocaching mostra tanta natura quanta storia, cultura e arte! 😉
      _______
      I’m sure you’d enjoy it! Geocaching is forests and naure as well as city by the sea, city centre and landmarks! It shows us lots of nature as well as it teaches history, culture and art! 😉

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