Hobbies, Lifestyle

Longing For An Adventurous Hobby? Here Are Some Tips For Geocaching

tips for geocaching

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer intern
Olivia Charlson. Find her on Instagram at @olivialee2000. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at thezillennialzine@gmail.com.

What the heck is Geocaching? I’m so glad you asked. Geocaching is a recreational activity turned into an app with an online community of members participating in what is described as “the world’s largest treasure hunt.” People are able to sign up and find hidden “caches” where they can sign their names and even exchange prizes — all in your local park or on your favorite walking trail. Geocaching started in 2000 using GPS as a new tool for scavenger hunts. Today, there are over 3 million placed and there are plenty of opportunities for adventure. And this is the perfect app for you if you’re looking for a new fun outdoor hobby. Here is our beginner’s guide and tips for geocaching.

What to expect

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When you sign up for the first time on the app, it will ask for your location and then show you a large map of all the Geocaches that are around you. Once you click on one, you can see how far it is from where you are standing and the app will allow you to navigate yourself to it. It’s fun because you don’t have to worry about buying anything and you could potentially walk to one from your house and skip gas worries. Once you’ve found it, the navigator should get you within around ten feet of the cache and you can start looking. A cache will usually be some sort of basic container often tucked away where ever you are. I’ve found geocaches tucked into bridges, under logs, hidden with magnets under a metal sign post — sometimes they’ll be obvious and other times you have to get creative. Once you’ve found it you can sign the log and possibly do the trade. You tuck it back where you found it and get to log it in your app. Voila! You’ve done it.

What to double-check

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When I first started Geocaching I kept striking out because I didn’t know what to look for — not outside but on the app. It’s always super fun to spontaneously pull one up and start looking, but it’s good to check it out first. You need a premium subscription to do all the caches in grey, these will be caches that are listed as more difficult. The description will tell you about the cache and oftentimes the best ones will you give you a bit of history about where you are too. Always check the activity. If there are several DNF’s (did not find’s) recently then don’t go looking yourself unless there is an update. If you’re looking to do an easier one with a trade, often times this won’t be the case if the size is listed as “micro.” If you know you’re going somewhere where you’ll want to find one, you can even use the search bar on the map to look up the address first.

What to bring

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I never used to carry pens on me before using this app, but now they’re at the bottom of every purse and tote bag I own. If you want to sign the log on a cache you found you’ll need one (though they aren’t necessary since you can log this in on the app). One of my favorite parts of the app is the trades. Something about my little crow brain is just ecstatic at receiving a little prize for a little task I’ve completed. A trade is a way of showing you’ve been there: you take something out another person has put in and replace it with your own small trinket. Trades should be small and reflect a little bit of yourself. I always cut out stickers I’ve bought for Halloween or stamps I haven’t used. This can be great if you get really into it because they can be tucked into purse pockets or the back of your wallet. Don’t go too big because most caches are not big enough to accommodate anything larger than your fist. Besides what you’ll need from the cache, always make sure you have some water for walking and shoes that can go off-roading.

What to beware of

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Always be aware of your surroundings. As fun as Geocaching is, it can land you in a sticky situation if you are treasure hunting with absolutely no reason or resolve. Though I’m sure most people don’t throw themselves into a new fixation with such gusto. A lot of geocaches are placed in pretty crowded areas, whether that be in the middle of your city’s downtown area or a grocery store parking lot. If it’s too crowded, skip it. The app endearingly calls non-geocachers “muggles” and when there are too many muggles, it’s not worth walking around a couple of rocks twenty times to find the cache. Besides some weird stares, you don’t necessarily want to be making yourself that vulnerable and someone will likely come and steal the cache if they see you take it out and put it back. It’s a good idea to do geocaching with your friends too. While it can work in an isolated and safe area to do them alone, it’s more fun anyway to find one during the group hike, for a day out with a friend or on vacation with a partner. Here is my most important rule: do not geocache at night. This may seem obvious or maybe you’ve done it with a flashlight and it’s been no big deal. But for some reason I had to learn the hard way that trying to navigate a stream to find a hidden container in the dark was not such a bright idea.  

So there you have it. Now that you’ve got some tips for Geocaching in your arsenal, you can take your app and see if there are some hidden treasures around you. Don’t be afraid to try it out when hanging with some friends. The best ones I’ve found have been on trips one city over from my own and they’ve enriched the experience of visiting a small town. Here are three of my top finds (you can look them up by code using the search bar):

The Little Daisy Mine – Jerome, Arizona – Code: GC3HMJ4

Dog Hair Thicket TB Hotel – Williams, Arizona – Code: GC9JFAM

Library Trail – Cave Creek, Arizona – Code: GC1Z8TC

Do you have any tips for Geocaching for fellow treasure hunters, hikers or bored home dwellers? Do you have any favorite caches or stories? Comment down below!

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