How Do I Get Started With Geocaching? (GPS) October 11 2011

Geocaching sounds like a sort of magical activity. Really, geocaching is more like a treasure hunt. Except the treasure is probably not a pot of gold.

So, what exactly is geocaching? On the most basic level, it is using GPS tracking to find hidden objects. There is more to it than this, though.

Online Geocaching Communities

Run an Internet search on "geocaching." You will likely get pages of results. When you look at these results, some will be informational, like this one. Other geocaching websites will give out tips on the subject. While both of those types of sites have their place, you are looking for a third type of site. One that will give you the specific information you need to find a cache.

In order to start geocaching, you will need to find a community that provides a place to both look up geocache coordinates and post them. Usually these websites will have forums where people post successes, clues and experiences they have with a specific geocache.

Some state governments have even gotten in the act and created pages for geocaching in state parks. Geocaching.com is the big daddy sites of this activity. Smaller geocaching websites include opencaching.com and navicache.com.

Where to Locate Geocache Coordinates

Create an account at Geocaching.com. It's free for the basic service and only requires you have a valid email address. Once you have created an account, you will have access to the listings of geocache coordinates. You can locate caches by zip code, town, state or even by country.

Once you complete your search, a list of caches with specific information will appear. The caches have a variety of information attached. The size of the cache as well as the difficulty rating is included. For easy hunts, look for the caches highlighted in green. A printable log with clues is available, along with coordinates and even a printable map.

Equipment Needed

Few items are actually required to start geocaching. Like any other activity, hobby or sport, the more you get into the activity the more items you discover will help you on your quests.

The basics you definitely need include a handheld GPS, a printout of the cache information you are looking for, a pen and a pencil, water and some good walking shoes.

Experienced geocachers have a myriad of things they carry with them on their treasure hunts. A cell phone, camera, flashlight, tweezers, and a first-aid kit are all practical to add to your bag. Bring along some small treasures so you can swap out what is in the cache if you find something cool. Compasses, patches (to sew on a jacket) or a small collector coin are a few possibilities. Paper to add to a full logbook is another item for your pack. Personal preference and needs play a role in what you will bring along on your hunt.

What Now?

You have your GPS coordinates. You have your equipment gathered together. Get your shoes on and head out the door. When you find the cache, sign the log. Then get back on the website and log your experience so others can benefit from your experience.

This post made possible by guest blogger Peggy Crippen, a writer with varied interests, including translation servicesGPS tracking and geocaching.

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net