Want to participate in the biggest, funnest, most amazing treasure hunt on Earth? There are nearly three million geocaches hidden around the world, and they’re all waiting to be discovered by someone like you.

What does geocaching cost?

The price of many popular recreational activities can be prohibitive. Not so with geocaching. In fact, the only gear required to take part in the global treasure hunt is a smartphone and a 4×4 vehicle. Add a geocache app to your Android phone or iPhone, gas up your Ram 3500, and hit the road in search of secret stashes.

How do you start geocaching?

The first thing you’ll need to do is download and install a free geocaching app. Geocaching.com offers an easy to use, open source app that will give you all the clues you need to locate caches. Owned and operated by Groundspeak Inc., Geocaching.com boasts members in more than 200 nations worldwide. GPSgames.org, Navicache.com and Terracaching.com also offer membership to geocachers around the globe.

The basic steps to finding a geocache are simple. Once you have a membership at Geocaching.com or another caching site, use your smartphone app to input the zip code of your current location. Once the app lists nearby caches, select the one you want to find. Within seconds, you will be given the GPS coordinates of the cache. Input them to your smartphone, fire up your 4×4 and let the hunt begin.

Allow your smartphone GPS system to lead you and your 4×4 vehicle to the vicinity of your chosen geocache. When you locate the cache, sign your code name into the logbook along with any notes or small items you’d like to leave for the next geocache hunter. You’ll be given a unique code name when you register for an account at Geocaching.com.

What will you find?

There are several types of geocaches. The most basic of caches is a waterproof container that holds a log book and writing implement. Fancier caches may contain small trinkets that finders may trade in exchange for a small treasure of their own. Some geocaches boast a webcam that finders can use to document their successful cache hunt. The caches most often hidden are army surplus ammunition boxes and lunchbox size plastic boxes. Ammo cans are waterproof, roomy and virtually indestructible. The smallest geocaches are no bigger than a thimble. The largest cache to date was a truck.

Brief history of geocaching

Hide-and-seek games have been popular for centuries. Some of the earliest such games include “letterboxing” and scavenger hunts. The first official GPS geocache was hidden by Oregonian Dave Ulmer on May 3, 2000. Ulmer posted the coordinates of the cache on a Usenet newsgroup. Within three days, the geocache had been logged once and found twice.

GPS, or global position systems utilize satellite technology to help people find their way around the planet. Four or more satellites in space must be accessed in order for a handheld smartphone GPS system to function. Developed by the United States Department of Defense, GPS positioning is now used by millions of people worldwide. If you ask us, the folks who use GPS and a 4×4 to locate geocaches have the most fun with GPS positioning technology.

Eleanor Myers is a lifestyle blogger who wants to inspire people to get out there and do something different! Whether it’s backpacking, 4 wheel driving or geocaching there’s more to life than work, TV and the gym. Her pieces have been published on travel, lifestyle and sport/fitness blogs.