What Are The Rules For Geocaching?
Let me be completely honest. I am new to Geocaching, if you are new as well you might enjoy a list of rules and etiquette to follow when geocaching.
I did some research to know the rules of Geocaching because I want to go with my kids. And I am happy to learn that the rules actually favor geocaching as a family-friendly activity.
Here is what I learned about the rules.
I split it into rules and tips.
Because, some of the rules I found online, is more general tips. And the rules are not governed by law or anything. Geocaching is a silent agreement within a community, everyone behaves well.
Geocaching rules is actually an honor system, but it works well.
9 Rules of Geocaching (Honor System)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, going Geocaching is an honor system. The rules are here, so you don't ruin the game for everyone else.
Don't go geocaching if you can't abide by these simple rules. Write them down or bookmark this page if you must.
#1 Put the Geocache back where you found it
This is the first and most important rule of geocaching. In my mind at least. If you remove the cache, you are ruining it for the next one who wants to discover your case.
Imagine you have been hunting for a case with your kids, and walking for what seems like hours. The kids are weary and you need some success to make them feel the magic of discovering a hidden treasure.
If you do not put the geocache back where you find it, you might ruin someone else's first time. Do not do this. :)
#2 You must sign the log
It's the basics of the "game". If there is a notebook, a piece of paper or something like this to write in, in the cache, then sign it.
But do also log the find online at the website where you spotted the cache. It could be www.geocaching.com or any other geocaching websites, that you might enjoy using even more.
Have you read my article on using iPhones for geocaching? Click this link to read about the pros and cons of using your iPhone for Geocaching.
#3 You must trade-up Geo-swag
If you take out some of the Geo-swag or trinkets, you must replace it with something of equal or greater value. It is all about giving and not taking.
Geocaching is for honorable and great people, and if all you do is take, then you are not welcome.
Consider, if you take a trinket of plastic, to replace it with a trinket of metal.
Sentimental value is also nice, but then you have to leave a note, about the trinket or geo-swag you left.
Geo-swag can be coins, small items from your life or cheap children's toys.
I have done you the courtesy of finding some cheap trinkets and geo-swag on Amazon right here:
#4 If you remove a trackable, make sure to log it
If you remove a trackable item like the Travel Bug or something like it. You do not actually have to replace it, but you have to log it.
Check this link on Amazon to see travel bugs and geocaching trackable items like it: Trackable Travel Bug items on Amazon
#5 Family friendly items
Geocaching is a family-friendly activity. So when you do place new items in the geocache make sure it is not offensive to anyone and is family friendly.
Make sure the geo-swag you put in the cache is not dangerous or harmful as well. We need to trust each other on this one.
#6 Not food in the cache
For more or less obvious reasons you should not place food in the geocache. It might take months or years for anyone to find it.
#7 Geocaching is a secret
When you find a cache, make sure that no one is watching you. In the geocaching world, non-geocachers are called muggles, like in Harry Potter.
You do not want someone who does not know what geocaching is all about finding, or removing the geocache. They do not know the rules, and are not a part of the honor system as all the "cachers".
#8 Find before you place a cache
If you, like me, have been reading about geocaching, and think it would be cool to place cache somewhere, for someone to find it, then you have to follow a general rule of thumb.
Some say 25 and some say 50, but everyone agrees that you need to participate and find at between 25 and 50 caches, before placing your own.
You need some real world experience with geocaching before you go host your own box. Personally, I look forward to placing my own box, when I wander around, I start to look at locations, and think that it would make a good hiding spot for a geocache.
Have you found your first 25 geocaches?
#9 You must abide by the rules and regulations within the country
No matter what rules you have read on this website, on forums or other websites. They are all game-rules.
You have to follow the rules and regulations in the country you are geocaching. For example, you should not pass "no access"-signs.
Don't go trespassing and do illegal stuff to go geocaching. This is not what the game is about.
7 Great Tips For Geocaching
These tips are less like rules, and more tips to get more out of geocaching. I promise you, if you follow these tips as well, you will have a better experience and you enrich the experience for others.
#1 Bring a Pen
Some of the caches might lack a pen or pencil. Some have been removed or some just does not work anymore. It is so sad for the owner of the cache to see a log online, and no note in their notebook.
So bring the possibility to write a note. You could bring a small notebook as well, if there is not notebook in the cache you find, you can stick a note in there just to say hello.
#2 Even log if you do not find the cache
We learned in the rules, that you must go geocaching while no one is looking at you. It might be harder in bigger cities.
Non-geocachers is called Muggles, like in Harry Potter, and some of the caches might have been "Muggled" - removed by non-geocachers.
If you do not find the cache you are looking for, you should log, that you did not find it. I might have been removed.
#3 Involve your kids
If you are blessed with kids, especially younger kids with a sense of imagination, and if you are still able to impress them, then go geocaching together.
You might make your kids fall in love with hiking & trekking, and making them appreciate experiences more than items.
The cheap trinkets in the caches are not about the monetary value of the item, but the story about how you got it.
It is a great education of value, in my mind, If you can get your kids to understand this.
#4 Consider going "offline" with a GPS instead of an iPhone
If you are going geocaching with your kids, and they are young 4-7 years old. You do not want to go around staring at your phone.
When you spent time with your kids, it is all about them getting the much-deserved attention from you. A rugged and durable GPS is more family friendly, and you can let your kids hold it.
You do not want distractions from this family time. Enjoy it and embrace the game.
Do you use a smartphone or GPS? Let me know in the comments below!
#5 Bring trinkets and GEO-swag
Otherwise, you have to go back and bring some trinkets to replace the geo-swag. If you do not bring this, then you have nothing to swap.
If you follow this link: you are going directly to Amazon in the Geocaching product category.
#6 Be nice & original
Consider writing something nice about the geocache and replace trinkets and geo-swag with something unique.
Cheap plastic items made in China does the job, but a homemade token is special.
I once heard my parents talk about someone who went around swapped trinkets for $20-bills and if there was room, expensive toys.
Just because they knew, that if some kid ever found this, on their geocaching hunt, they would have a magical time.
#7 Cache In Trash Out (CITO) makes you a better person
It is common courtesy, in the Geocaching world, that while you go looking for your next case or solving the next mystery, you also remove the trash.
Be a better person, create a better world.
Remove trash and unwanted stuff when you go geocaching. It is how geocachers have such a great reputation.
Sources for this article: