Think about your last vacation. Was there ever a time where you ran out of things to do? If you ever have even 15 minutes of free time and catch the adventure bug, whip out your smartphone and experience geocaching.
What exactly is geocaching? Glad you asked. Geocaching is about the closest thing to a Nicholas Cage National Treasure hunt without the criminals chasing you. Basically, a network of ordinary people hide a small container with a notable in it. To help someone find it, they record the longitude and latitudinal coordinates along with a few clues, a riddle, or even a code to decipher for more advanced users on websites like Geocaching.com. Once you find the hidden object, you open it to sign and date what’s inside. Or you could be on the other end and return to your geocache months later to see how many people have found your item. Pretty cool, right?
So, whether you’re touring a city and have an extra day, or just want to look up a geocache near the tourist attractions you’ll be visiting, geocaching is a great way to add a little adventure to your trip. But before you grab your compass and set off with paper and pencil, or even your clunky car GPS, check out these smartphone apps for beginners. Phones with a built in GPS are not quite as accurate as your car’s system, but they will usually get you close enough to use the clues and find your treasure. I put the following apps to the test, but you’ll have to try them out for yourself to see which is best!
The Best Apps
1. GeoCaching Intro (iPhone) – Geocaching.com’s free edition of their ultimate $10 app. You have to deal with limitations and urges to buy the full version, but it’s a great starter app for the iPhone.
2. GPS Status (Android) – The most simple GPS app: a compass with longitude & latitude coordinates
3. GPS Test (Android) – More detailed free app with a compass, coordinates, and things like altitude, speed, and sunset & sunrise times. Try it out after your GeoCaching trial run expires.
How’d they do?
So, did I find what my treasure? Well, not exactly. My description was somewhat vague, and I began my quest late in the day near sunset. I think I found the right spot but just couldn’t find where they hid the item – was it under the bench? Or in the tree? Behind the rail? I will never know. I suggest starting with the easiest caches when you’re in a time crunch or just a newbie, and work your way up to the tougher ones as you gain experience.
Good luck and happy travels!
Our guest author, Nate Schrader, writer for TravelProducts.com, hits anything from travel products to a UK travel adapter to general travel tips & technology. When he’s not helping travelers prepare for their trip, Nate enjoys adventure running & trying to go places where his GPS can’t find him.