By Christina VanGinkel
As geocaching, a form of treasure hunting with the aid of a GPS unit, takes hold as a popular hobby nationwide, it is not a stretch to realize that sooner, rather than later, people who find this hobby exciting would want to make it a valuable part of their next vacation plans.
With the aid of online groups or in person groups, either where members trade information in regards to various caches that they know about or created themselves, other members can then plan their next vacation with aid of this knowledge.
If this sounds like something that would be of interest to you, consider the following steps to make your next geocaching vacation a success.
Consider how experienced you are at geocaching. If you are a brand new owner of your GPS and are still learning how to turn the gadget on, you might want to include a cache or two on your next vacation, but not plan the complete excursion around this newfound hobby. If you are an experienced geocacher though, and can think of no better way to spend your down time than looking for the next cache on the list, then a vacation based on geocaching might be just the vacation you have been in search of.
If you have been considering buying a new GPS unit, consider buying it before you go, but make sure to take along the GPS unit that you are most comfortable with too. If the new unit turns out to be more frustrating than fun, your vacation will still be salvageable with the GPS you are use too.
Make a hard copy list of the caches you intend to search out. If you do most of your primary searching online and you will not have Internet capability while on vacation, download all the info to a laptop or handheld, or at least print it off. If kids will be part of your trip, make a hardcopy for each child so that they can feel like they are more coordinated with the search than if they had to keep asking you what is next on the list, and if there are any details, they could know to help them search. For example, one of my favorite geocaching websites has a decryption mode for many of their caches they have listed. Before heading out on any search, my son and I often decrypt the encrypted clue, especially if we have any suspicion that finding the cache it is in reference to might be more difficult than we can handle.
If you will be vacationing by family or friends who are also geocachers, ask them to stash a find for the youngest members of your family that includes something special for them. When we vacationed by family in Colorado a few years ago, they stashed a container with a treats for our kids on their property. While the adults relaxed on the deck, we were able to watch as the kids searched with the aid of our GPS on their own. It made for good practice for the kids, when they found it they were treated to some treats put together especially for them, and the adults got to spend some time kicking back and relaxing as every good vacation should include.
While this sounds like common sense, not everyone might think about it, but be sure to plan your stops in an orderly fashion. Nobody wants to spend more time in a vehicle each leg of a trip than they have too. Consult your maps and GPS units to make as organized a route as you can. Try to include some other excursions on those days where the cache might be easily and quickly found.
Be sure to bring along some good exchange goods in various sizes for the caches you will be visiting. I always like to add something extra to those caches that are some distance from my home that relate to where we are from. My favorite is a gift certificate for a small restaurant in our town. That way, if any future cache visitors are headed our way, lunch is on us. We have also included coupons towards local sightseeing stops.