Getting Started

So you wanna go geocaching?  Well, here are the basics for getting started!

First, I suggest going to and register.  You'll need to pick a "nickname" for yourself, or for your family if you're going to geocache as a unit.  You can get a free account, however, if you find this turns into a serious hobby, be aware that you can buy a premium membership for $30/year which gives you some nice website perks as well as the ability to see information for and log "members only"caches.

Punch in your zipcode and check out the geocaches that are in your immediate area - choose one that is of an "Easy" difficulty and terrain (these are rated with stars just under the geocache name at the top of the page), and scroll down and check the logs to be sure it's been found recently.  (Occasionally caches go missing and I don't want your first attempt to be a failure because the cache isn't even there!  :-) 

Next, you'll need a GPS.  If you're lucky you have a friend or family member who has one you can borrow so you can try finding a few caches to see if you like it before you invest money in a GPS for yourself.  (I've heard of people using Topo maps to find caches without a GPS but I personally have no idea how one would do that.)  If you are unable to borrow a GPS and decide to take a leap of faith and buy a GPS I suggest buying a very inexpensive, low end GPS.  (I usually have one listed in the sidebar that I reccomend.)  This will probably run you somewhere between $80-$110.  You can spend a ton of money on a more sophisticated GPS but a basic hand-held GPS designed for hiking will do the job.  We didn't buy our current pricier GPS until our original one broke after we were a few years into this hobby - by then we knew what features were important to us.  (The GPS we own is also listed in my sidebar, FYI.)

Now you can geocache with just a GPS and a cache page printed off, but I highly reccomend a few other items to make your geocaching experience safe and fun.

Get yourself a backpack - to get started any kind will do, even if it's got Blues Clues on it or whatever - it's just to carry stuff.  Again, if this becomes a hobby for you, you'll want to invest in a good backpack, but you don't need anything fancy to get started.

Very important - please spend a few bucks and get a first aid kit and some bug spray.  Believe me, if you end up needing either item, you will be SO GLAD you have them!

You'll also need some "swag" if you want to do any trading.  The dollar store is the perfect place to pick up some items.  As you find more caches you'll get a good idea of what typical trade items are, but here are a few suggestions: sewing kit, superballs, pencils, small flashlight, rain poncho, light sticks, plastic army men, etc.  Keep in mind that good "caching etiquette" demands that you trade an item of equal or greater value than what you take.  And there's one VERY IMPORTANT RULE ABOUT SWAG - NO FOOD!  Animals WILL smell it and they WILL try to tear apart the cache to get at it.  We have seen more than one cache with teeth marks!

Another important item is water.  Always err on the side of MORE than you think you'll need - just in case.

And the last important item, if you have one, is a cell phone.  Being able to make a phone call if you get lost, or you or someone in your party gets hurt can be a lifesaver - literally.  Make sure it's charged!

Now you're ready to tackle your first cache.  Print out the cache page.  (Note that often there is a clue if you get stuck, and they key to decode it is right there on the page.)  Check your favorite mapping program (like mapquest or Google maps or whatever) and get driving directions to the cache area, and go find it!  Remember, when you get home to log back in to and log your find!  ( will keep track of your finds for you so you don't have to worry about remembering which ones you've found.)

Good luck, be safe and have fun!

And remember...if at first you don't succeed - try, try again!  It happens to the best of us!  :-)


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