Geocaching is the high-tech treasure hunt that has people exploring the outdoors one hidden gem at a time. Millions of caches are tucked away in different locations around the world, like in treetops at the end of long hiking trails or at the side of city streets – even underwater. And all you need to do to get involved is sign up for a free account and download the Geocaching app.
For those who already know the excitement of hunting down hidden treasures in the least likely of places, there are plenty of ways in which you can take your adventures to the next level. Many travelers add geocaching to their travel itineraries and, in some cases, even make it the focus of their trip. Read on for our interview with a geocacher whose quest for caches has led him to places near and far.
Geocaching road trip
One of the most exciting things about geocaching is the opportunity to explore places you’ve never been before. So if cruising isn’t you thing, don’t worry; there are still ways to enjoy geocaching with your feet (or should we say tires) firmly planted on the ground. Christopher Lund, a real estate attorney in New York, has found caches in more than 20 states and throughout the world.
Q: How did you get started?
A. My girlfriend, Meghan, and I got into geocaching through a friend of mine. He was always talking about finding different caches and it seemed like a lot a fun. So one day we downloaded the Geocaching app and finally gave it a try. On our first day we found seven caches all within walking distance of my apartment. We’ve been hooked since!
Q: Why do you enjoy it?
A. It’s great to be able to spend an afternoon just hiking through quiet, large patches of woods to find classic caches, especially with all the noise and hectic pace of Long Island. Through geocaching I’ve met new people and made many new friends in the local caching community. It’s also a great way for me and my girlfriend to spend time together. Geocaching has taken us to lots of local spots that I never would have discovered on my own.
Q: Has geocaching ever taken you out of New York? What about the country?
A. Yes! So far I’ve cached in about 20 different states, mostly up and down the East Coast and in the Southeast. Just last week my girlfriend and I went on a Caribbean cruise and we cached outside the U.S. for the first time. We found caches in Haiti, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. The next trip on my travel list is Alaska, which I’m hoping to do next summer.
Q: Do you prefer to geocache locally or while traveling?
A. When I first started caching, I preferred doing it locally. It was convenient and despite living on Long Island for most of my life, geocaching still brought me to new places I had never seen before. I was able to explore local history and connect with the small caching community. However, after several years focused on Long Island, I’m starting to get more enjoyment out of caching while traveling.
When I’m traveling out of state (and out of the country), the best caches in the area are still new to me. And due to the rules governing geocache hides, most are hidden by people familiar with the area, making them a great way to discover local spots. So, when you’re not from around an area, geocaching is a cool way to find places off-the-beaten-path. A few weeks ago Meghan and I were staying at a hotel in Miami, so we pulled up our caching app and saw there was a hide about a quarter-mile away. The spot was known by the locals as a manatee hangout, and sure enough when we went looking for the cache, we saw a large manatee swim by. That’s an experience I never would have had if not for geocaching!
Q: Are there any other cool ways to experience geocaching?
A. Absolutely. Hit the road! Last summer Meghan and I took a road trip with our friend Nick to West Virginia. Our main purpose was finding a series of caches that are somewhat famous in the caching community. But other times, we choose a destination first and then look for fun caches in that area. Last winter we did a trip to New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. Once we were there, we made sure to find plenty of local caches.
And there are a number of tools available to help plan geocaching road trips, like the Trip Planner on the official geocaching website and GSAK. But my personal geocache road trip planning tends to be far less formal. It’s usually a combination of asking other experienced cachers for recommendations and using the advanced filters and search features available on the geocaching site and apps.
Geocaching road trip tips
Barb Kessel has explored both coasts on her geocaching adventures. In fact, pretty soon she’ll be heading to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay with a caching tour group. She hosts occasional classes with tips, like how to plan a road trip around the hobby. Check out a few of her pointers.
Decide how much time you want to spend on the road in advance. A three-hour drive could turn into an eight-hour drive easily once you start geocaching. So include extra time for caching on your route and plan accordingly.
Make sure to weed out caches that are too hard to find or might be missing ahead of time. GSAK can help with this.
And finally, try not to go more than half-mile off of the route (unless there’s a really special cache along the way). It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re geocaching.
Tell us about your geocaching adventures in the comments, and let AAA help you with your next geocaching adventure.
Get started at AAA.com/Travel.