For my birthday I received two TravelBugs. If you don’t already know, a TravelBug is a metal tag very similar in size and shape to those displaying serial numbers that are worn around the neck of military personnel, dog tags. Each TravelBug (TB) has a unique tracking number on it which allows it to be tracked as it travels from cache to cache. The idea is that the person who owns the TB drops it off in a geocache one day and leaves it there. Then when someone else comes along and finds it they have the option to take the TB out and move it on. They use geocaching.com to log the fact that they have “retrieved” it from the first cached and “dropped off” at the second. The original owner of the TB can then use geocaching.com to track its progress as it moves around. Owners can set goals for their TBs such as reaching a certain country or visiting particular types of monuments or establishments such as pubs or churches. In fact you can be as creative as you like in your goals for your TB.
The TB itself is the metal tag or more precisely the tracking number that is display on it. You do not need to send the tag travelling if you don’t want to you can send any item you like just as long as it displays the tracking number. You see all sorts of items as TBs when out caching from small soft toys, Lego men, toy cars etc., most often with the TB tag attached to them by a thin metal chain. But it doesn’t stop there… people soon realised that they can make practically anything trackable simply by associating the tracking number with it. The only restriction is the size of the thing and whether it can fit in a cache. But there is another type of action associated with TBs… the “discovered” log action is designed for people to record the fact that they have found a TB somewhere but have not removed it from the location where it is. This means that TBs can now be larger than the actual cache. People soon caught on and started making all sorts of things trackable such as their cars, bikes, dogs, and even themselves. If you see a car with a TB number displayed on it then you can log it as “discovered” If you meet another geocacher when out and about or when at an event and their dog is trackable then you can log it. I have heard of some pretty weird TBs in the short time I have been caching including someone who had made their mother trackable and also someone who had a scorpion that was trackable but he said that he would only give the tracking number to you, allowing you to “discover” it, if you held the scorpion in your hand!!!
If you are carrying a TB around you don’t have to drop it off at the next cache you visit. You can choose where and when to drop it although, obviously the owner wants their TB to move as often and as far as possible in most cases. When you find a cache but don’t want to “Drop off” the TB you are holding, you can log a “visited” log for the trackable item to record that it passed by this location. This makes for a more detailed route map when viewing the tracking history on geocaching.com.
Resourceful geocachers have found another use for their TBs. Some people register a TravelBug and then carry it from cache to cache with them, never dropping it off. This allows them to record a “visited” log for each one and thus enables them to view themselves as a trackable which means they can get statistics on how far they have travelled whilst geocaching.
So what to do with my new TravelBugs?
For one of them we are going to set it off round the world attached to a small English Rugby Ball with a goal of getting to New Zealand and back in time for the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup that is being played over here. I will write more on that when we get it all sorted and ready to release.
The second one I have attached to my long white cane and plan to record a Visited log for each cache we go to so that we can track our progress as we geocache. If you want to see where we go when caching you can view the Long White Cane TB information and tracking page.
We love finding TBs and geocoins which are small coins displaying tracking numbers and are always happy to help them along there way towards achieving their goals. There is talk of a couple of TravelBug races coming up in the New Year where people compete to see how far they can get their TBs to travel in a set period of time and I hope we can take part in these as they sound fun.