Geocaching: A Thrifty Adventurous New Hobby

My boyfriend Douglas introduced geocaching to us as something we could do together with my 9 year old son. It's become our newest hobby, we're totally hooked and go even when my son isn't with us. It's truly a thrifty and fun way to get out and explore neighborhoods, parks and other areas we would not otherwise have seen.


Wikipedia gives a really good overview of what geocaching is all about:

"Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device[2] and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called geocaches or caches, anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is often described as a game of high-tech hide and seek, sharing many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking..."

There are several geocaching sites out there but we use this site which is based out of Seattle where we're from. We have no affiliation with this organization other than being faithful members.

As of this time, there are 1,438,830 geocaches all over the world, so chances are there's one near you right now. As we were sitting here writing this article, we discovered a geocache merely a few feet away.

To give you an idea of the plethora of geocaches in our area alone, here's a screen shot of the Seattle area geocaches. All of the icons on this map represent the different types of geocaches and shows their location in our lovely city.

Google map with geocache icons indicating their location

You don't have to be a member or really have anything other than the internet to get started. When we first started we set out with print outs of the descriptions and a borrowed GPS. We've enjoyed it so much, though, we've become premium members for a mere $30 a year or $10 every three months, which is still a bargain for some of the adventures we've had. The most you're likely to spend is $40 the first year (this includes a mobile app, that we've found to be useful.) Having the app on our phone means we don't have to print out any maps or cache descriptions/hints and the best thing about it is that it shows the closest geocaches to your location wherever you may be.


The app has been a huge time and money saver for our most current passionate hobby.

This two minute video introduces you to the basics of geocaching:

Here's a short list of the necessities that we've found to be useful:

  • Computer with internet
  • A GPS or a GPS enabled phone
  • A fine tip pen (for writing in the logs)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Water bottle and a small towel (to wash our hands, if we get really dirty)
  • A small flashlight
  • A trash bag to put any trash we find along the way*

*We're firm adherents to the "cache in, trash out" philosophy wherever we go. For more information:

That's it. Our most recent approach has been to use our phone with the geocaching app. As premium members, we can can alter our search results to look for the geocaches that have been voted as member favorites. Which are often the most fun to find.


Here's a photo of a typical cache we've found including our signature "zilla" figurine that we leave for others at our favorite caches:

a typical medium sized cache with our signature zilla figurine included

Since you're finding a "hidden" treasure, one of the main goals is to avoid having non geocachers (also known as "muggles", a term coined from Harry Potter) discover or disturb the cache, as it's imperative they remain at the intended coordinates.

Here's a photo we took of some "muggles" flanking a geocache we were after while writing this article:

muggles stanindg next to a geocache

We've both lived in this city a long time and have discovered so many lovely places locally, that we never knew existed, and wherever we go, geocaching is always a fun, and inexpensive activity that has afforded us the ability to explore new places that we would not have otherwise explored without this hobby.


We look forward to hearing about your adventures in geocaching wherever you may find yourselves.

small plastic godzilla figurine standing on a rock

By mara and Douglas from Seattle, WA

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July 15, 20110 found this helpful

Our family has participated in Geocaching since the first year it started. As you said, it has introduced us to places we never would have seen! More importantly (in my eyes), it has introduced us to people we never would have met otherwise, who have become dear and valued friends.


Most areas have "events" where you can meet other cachers, and they're a great way to make new friends. It is especially nice for us, as we have just moved into the empty-nest stage of life!

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July 15, 20110 found this helpful

Be very careful where you place your 'cache', see attached from UK:

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July 18, 20110 found this helpful

My husband and I have been geocachers for a number of years. We are also metal detectorists, which can sometimes help on a hunt. My husband has a little fishing Santa figure that has been traveling around the world for well over 5 years now. The last place we heard from was from a soldier serving in the mideast. Amazing how this experience works.

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July 19, 20110 found this helpful

How very interesting, and it sounds like so much fun and entertainment while being a family activity and somewhat educational all in one. If we were younger, this is something I think we'd enjoy immensely.

My hubby used to set up "treasure hunts " for our girls' birthdays, and it was one of the most begged for activities by all 3 of them. By the time we had our son, it had kinda been phased out since we were not always sure of the neighborhoods' safety the same as Trick or Treating fell by the wayside. This geocaching sounds like a nice safe activity.

We would be among those participating if we were a bit younger. Enjoy everything you can for just as long as you can. It'll sure make for happy memories to be shared one day, or just savored as you rest from a long life of good times.

I am happy for you, but will admit to just a little envy too. :-)

Thank you for sharing the good times with us.

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August 1, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you all. :)
GypsySwan, Maybe we will see that Santa figurine someday!

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January 2, 20120 found this helpful

Yay Geocaching! Nice write up Mara!

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