Family friendly sleuthing makes vacations more excitingBy Amy Higgins
Traditional road trip activities like the license plate game can be fun, but perhaps you are up for a new game. Try geocaching. It’s a way to build some adventure and get a little exercise during your next road trip.
This scavenger hunt can be played within feet of your home, near the attraction you are visiting or in the middle of nowhere. No matter where you are, it’s practically guaranteed a geocaching treasure is nearby. And who doesn’t like a little treasure sometimes?
Geocaching uses GPS devices to locate the coordinates to a specific treasure, or geocache. You’ll need a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone to navigate to the cache, and a Geocaching.com membership. You can register for a free basic membership on Geocaching.com, locate the “Hide & Seek a Cache” page, enter the postal code, state or approximate address of your location or destination and click on any geocache in the list provided.
Lists are sizable and geocaches range in difficulty (marked as such) and terrain. Once you decide which geocache sounds the most enticing, enter the coordinates in your GPS device and follow the clues. Find out if the geocache’s description offers additional hints, such as a decryption, as these hints can be critical to finding the cache. And pack a pencil and notebook for the road.
Smartphone users can install the free “Geocaching Intro” app that accomplishes the same goals as the website but its portability comes in handy, especially when you need to look up a tip or move to a different cache.
Many kinds to choose
Geocaches come in many forms: plastic containers, boxes, bags, fake rocks and logs, tools, nuts and bolts, and magnetic containers. When you find the geocache, open it, check out the contents, sign the logbook and take a picture as a souvenir. Some caches contain treasures. If you choose to take one, it is expected that you replace the treasure with another of equal value. When your mission is complete, it’s important to return the cache to its original spot so others can enjoy it. As you improve, challenge yourself to the more difficult hunts. Or, relocate or create a geocaching trackable, a traveling game piece. Common types of trackables include Travel Bug Trackables and Geocoins.