January 6, 2008

Getting Started

Before we discuss setting up personalized searches in geocaching.com, let’s take a step back and instead address the basics of geocaching for the benefit of those of you who are just starting, or thinking of starting, to take up this wonderful hobby. To start geocaching, you only need two things: (1) a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, and (2) access to a web site that provides the coordinates of these hidden treasures, or geocaches. You also need a means of transferring or entering the geocache coordinates into your GPS receiver (future topic).

Let’s assume you already have a GPSr and now take a look at item number two above. There are several web sites that provide geocache listings, but Geocaching.com has the largest database of caches and users, and provides the most features. This is the web site we’ll be referencing and using in this blog, but to satisfy your curiosity, I’ve provided links to a few of the other cache listing sites below.

Go ahead and enter your zip code in the search box in Navicache and then in Geocaching.com and compare the results to see which site provides the larger list of geocaches.

At some point you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to fork out the $30 per year for a premium membership at geocaching.com. When I first stared geocaching in 2003, the difference in features between a basic (free) geocaching.com account and the premium account was not that significant. Now, however, the number and type of features available to premium members is far greater. Just being able to create and save personalized geocache searches, called “pocket queries”, is well worth the price of admission. For a list of all the other benefits that a premium membership allows, please visit the geocaching.com subscription page.

Finally, if you are new to geocaching, there is a plethora of helpful information on geocaching.com’s “getting started” web page, including FAQs, a GPS buying guide, a glossary, history, and support information. Rather than repeating all that information here, I’ll simply refer you to that site.

Good luck and happy caching!

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