S1E8: Geocaching 101 – What are Trackables?

Trackables are one of my favorite parts of the geocaching game. But what exactly are they and how do they work? Can anyone start a trackable? What do you do when you find a trackable? Where do you buy geocaching trackables? This episode I talk about what trackables are, where to get your own, and how to start one.

“Trackables”, geocaching.com
Trackable Image Gallery, geocaching.com

Cache Highlight: “Dr. Evil’s Face Your Fears – The Graveyard”  


One of my favorite things about geocaching is trackables.  I love finding them.  I love starting new ones.  I love watching them move along.  But some may wonder, what is a trackable?  A trackable is a moveable game piece that is part of geocaching.  Unlike SWAG, the point of a trackable is not to keep it, but to move it along.  Some trackables have specific locations that they want to get to and others just want to move as far as they can.

Trackables don’t come in one specific form.  They come in all shapes.  Most are generally small but some do come in larger sizes.  There is the standard Travel Bug that is a dog tag style trackable and typically comes with a copy take that you can keep.  Sometimes you may find one of these attached to an object that moves along with it.  It could be attached to a small rubber duck or trinket or some sort of medallion.  Or it may not be attached to anything.  Some are special coins called geocoins.  They can be the classic round decorative coin or it could be shaped like an animal or object.  There are even Lego trackables that you piece together like a Lego person or animal.  There are holiday themed ones, military themed ones, dinosaur themed, just about any short of theme you could think of.

So what do you do when you find one?  Go to geocaching.com and select Trackables in the menu.  Here you can search the code found on the trackable.  This will take you to the webpage associated with that trackable.  Here you can find out the trackable’s current goal and view any pictures that may have been posted associated with it.  From there you can decide if you want to move it along or not.  If you move it along add an entry log and marked it as grabbed.  If you choose not to move it along, you still have the option to log it as discovered and leave it there.  Either way you have an option to add it to a watch list.  If you do this, you’ll be able to receive email updates when it’s moved or discovered by someone else and watch it’s journey unfold.

Unlike SWAG, you do not have to leave a trackable to take a trackable.  You can swap out trackables if you want or you can gather up a few to move along at the same time.  The choice is up to you.

If you decide to help a trackable along the way, there are two types of logs you can do.  The first one is a drop.  This simply means that you left it in a geocache.  The second is a visit or dip, this means you have brought the trackable with you to a geocache but did not leave it there.  These dips allow a glimpse of where the trackable has been between drops and are great for caches that are too small for the trackable to fit in like mircos and nanos but you can log a dip for any size cache. 

How long should you hold on to a trackable before moving it?  I’ve heard different rules for this.  Some will tell you two to three days.  Some will say a week.  The official rules from geocache.com says two weeks.  If you’re going on a trip and want to take a trackable with you to drop it off but it’s 3 or 4 weeks out, it doesn’t hurt to take the trackable but consider noting it in your find log that you’re waiting a few weeks to take it with you or send the owner a private message to let them know.  It’s a simple courtesy so the owner isn’t wondering what happened to it.  If you take a trackable and it somehow gets lost, you should send the owner a note as a courtesy so they know what happened.

If you’re interested in starting your own trackable, the first step is to obtain one.  A good place to start looking for one is on geocaching.com.  You can also find some on Amazon and other third party vendors.

Let’s just say you bought one on geocaching.com.  You place your order and in a few days your shinny new trackable shows up in your mailbox.  Now what?  The first step is to active the trackable.  To do so go to the trackables page on geocaching.com and select the “Activate a trackable” link.  In addition to the tracking number printed on the trackable, the code that will be used by others to log it, you trackable may have come with an activation code.  Type the information into he appropriate field and hit the activate button.  If you’re trackable didn’t come with an activation code or if you’ve lost the code or ordered multiple trackables and managed to mix up the codes before activating them, there is a link you can use to retrieve the activation code using the tracking number.

After you’re trackable is activated, you can edit its webpage.  One the trackable’s page, you can add a information about the trackable and set a goal for it.  The goal can be anything from getting it to a specific landmark or geocache, to make it to as many countries as possible, to move it as far and fast as you can, or anything you can imagine.  You can edit the trackable’s goal at any time so if you can’t decide you could always leave it blank and add one later.  If you don’t set a goal then it’ll just go where people take it to. 

Once everything is set, you’re trackable is ready to be dropped in a cache.  Once it’s dropped, it becomes a waiting until another cacher finds it and moves it along.  You can view the map showing it’s travels on the trackable’s page.  The map will show a numeric pin indicating the locations of any dips or drops.

The cache was called “Dr. Evil’s Face Your Fears – The Graveyard”


Difficulty rating 2, Terrain rating 2

The description read:

Dr. Evil’s Face Your Fears series of caches will highlight common phobias (fears) that many people have towards common everyday things or objects.  Some phobias are steeped in years of conditioning and survival instinct.  Some fears come from childhood experiences.  Some fears are just irrational but cause anxiety and reaction nonetheless.  Dr. Evil thought it would be interesting to create some caches just to see how cachers react to certain phobias.  Each of the caches are designed to exploit, expose, and trigger a phobia response (assuming the cacher has that phobia).  Many cachers will have no issues with these caches and some may decide to just DNF and walk away.  Dr. Evil may add to the series from time to time as he gets a notion to.  Good luck facing your fears!

This cache is combines several phobias into one cache since all of these phobias are often intertwined with graveyards and cemeteries.

Coimetrophobia is the fear of cemeteries, and is more common than one would think.  This fear originates from a place where dead bodies are buried thus triggering a reminder that one day we all will be laid in a cemetery somewhere.  People with this fear often have an associated fear of death (don’t worry, that is not part of the series….yet).  This fear can also be temporary after watching too many zombie or horror movies.  

Placophobia is the fear of tombstones and grave markers.  This fear is usually accompanied with Coimetrophobia since that is where most tombstone reside.  People with an extreme fear of death often have the phobias of places and things that remind one of death.

Hagiophobia is the fear of saints and holy things, like statues of angels.  This fear is usually developed by past experiences attaching themselves to imagines of holy things or saints. 

For this cache you will have to Face Your Fear.  Cache is a tombstone very near to a cemetery, and has an angel statue attached.  If you have any of these fears then good luck.  If not, please say hi to Francis for me.

Hint: Watch out for spirits!

This was one of the caches I found with my a family when we were out making out way to new New Melle, Mo.  Like the cache mentioned in the previous episode, I targeted this cache because of it’s size and knew it should have some SWAG that my son would be able to pick from.  This cache was out in one of the states conservation areas and we had a mini adventure finding our way to it.  We were using Google maps to get there, and it tried to take us on a direct route to the cache area by way of an accuses road that was locked and for authorized personal only.  We found a spot to pull over and looked at the map.  After a few minutes we found our way to the main entrance of the conservation area.  I navigated while my husband drove, and we slowly wound our way to the cache.

The road led us to a parking area near a lake.  We would have to hike around to a wooded area to find the cache.  The three of us climbed out of the car and donned our bug spray before heading out on the hike.  It was about a quarter mile hike across the levy to a wooded area.  When we got there we carefully picked our way around poison ivy to a small cemetery called “Othaniel Castlio Cemetery”.  We poked around a bit and soon my husband spotted it.  It was a wooden tomb stone that said RIP G O Cache with an angle stature next to it.  The top came off and inside was a lock container with full of trinkets.  My son picked out a toy and we left one in it’s place.  I also left behind a trackable I had recently bought before this caching trip.  The trackable was a Signal Faberge Egg 2020 Geocoin.  The goal for this trackable is just to see how far and fast it’ll be moved.  It’s been about three weeks since I placed it and as of the time of this recording, I’m still waiting for a notification that it has been moved along.  Hopefully someone one will find it and move it along soon.  Until then, I have a few other trackables I’m looking for places to drop them at.

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