Skip to main content

Travel bugs and geocoins

Travel bugs and geocoins
This is a primer on proper handling of trackable tags, coins, etc.
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association

Please bear with me while I lay a little groundwork on this subject.  Surely if you have played this game very long, you know all or most everything there is to know about trackables, but following the principle that no matter how much you think you know, we don’t always do the right thing and we can always learn more.

Trackables have a unique code on them and are logged on to track their travels.  Someone bought the trackable and paid anywhere from $4 to $50 or more for it (in some cases) and having one in our possession necessitates we move it.

Let’s start at the beginning.  You’ve bought a trackable, or someone gave you an unactivated trackable and you want to activate it.  You do this by going to and under PLAY at the top of the menu, you select FIND TRACKABLES.  Looking at the page that loads, select ACTIVATE TRACKABLE and push ENTER.

A page will load with your trackable number and below it reads:  ENTER YOUR TRACKABLE CODE.  This information comes with your trackable, but if not, then click on the link below this box that reads: LOCATE YOUR ACTIVATION CODE.

A Captcha box has to be filled in and then the tracking number found on the trackable you are trying to activate.  This will give you your code and you then activate it. Now it is time to customize your trackable page, so go to VIEW MY TRACKABLE.  To the right is a line that reads: EDIT THIS TRACKABLE.  Click on it and rename your trackable.

In the box’s marked: CURRENT GOAL and ABOUT THIS ITEM, fill them in or not.  I like to give mine a goal/mission and in the bottom box I may say who gave it to me, dedicate it to another geocacher, or tell why I like it.

Now, upload a photograph and make it the default image.  It can be the travel bug with the hitchhiker (whatever you attach to it) or it can be your photo.  It’s your trackable, so you can do whatever you want.

Now.  Here is an important next step.  If you don’t care about mileage and plan to keep this trackable, move it to your COLLECTION.  No one can grab it from you, but can still discover it if they see the code.  It will not pick up mileage either.  That happens when you move the trackable to your INVENTORY.

Now, let’s talk about ethics.  This is one area that can be quite touchy, especially with veterans who know better than to hold on to someone else’s trackable and not move it in a timely matter.  In the USA there is a serious problem with trackables not being logged and moved, or simply put in someone’s collection and not logged.  Trackables do not belong to you unless you paid for them.  I teach students that unless they feel they can move a trackable in a very reasonable amount of time (or have special permission to take to Uganda or some place) to simply DISCOVER it.  You get the same amount of credit for discovering a trackable and none of the responsibility that goes with moving it. 

Smart phones have awesome cameras to record this tiny code and you can log it at work(!) when things are slow, or at home, of course!  Personally I treat trackables like hot potatoes and they bother my poke sack until I can either hand them off at an event or place them in a geocache.

I also clean-up trackables that need it; attach a new hitchhiker when it comes to me without one (usually it’s a city of Baytown key chain which looks real spiffy), and write a good log and take a photo to attach on the trackables page.  I’ve logged over 1800 and own 83 trackables and most of them are out there somewhere.  Some are missing, some are not and here is another point to ponder.

When you release a trackable into the wild, it is akin to releasing a dove.  Don’t obsess over it.  It will just give you heartache or in some cases, jade you against releasing more.  It is like worrying about Elvis.  He’s gone and it is gone the second you drop it off.  I routinely will buy travel bugs with the sole purpose of supporting the game and release them.  I do my part, even though I know I might as well be throwing them in the Houston Ship Channel.

Education is the key here and keeping a TB or geocoin longer than a couple of weeks is simply holding up the game.  Sure, we’ve all been guilty of finding one in our kit bag, or the seat of our car and when we do, we should write the owner and explain and then get that puppy moving!  One last thing; don’t forget that this is just a game and take care to have fun.


Popular posts from this blog

Camp fires, wood smoke, and burning leaves.

When I was a kid, everyone burned leaves in the fall. I always enjoyed it so much.It was a happy time. Man, that smell was amazing and you couldn’t go anywhere without smelling it. Of course now I know that it is a major source of air pollution and those of us that live inside the city limits are restricted from doing it. I don’t think I would burn them anyway, choosing to compost instead.
The whole family would engage in raking the yard and the reward was burning the leaves. The thick gray smoke would pour out like liquid clouds and we would run through it. Afterward, we smelled like smoke, but we didn’t care. I would wager that most people under the age of 30 have never even raked leaves into a pile, let alone burn them.
Growing up in north Georgia in the late 60’s, my 3 brothers and I would camp out most of the summer and burn anything and everything on our campfire. At the end of summer there wouldn’t be a stick, pine cone, or needle on the ground. We smelled like mountain men a…

Riding the waves

Back in 1974, after coming back to the USA from the unpleasant conflict in Southeast Asia, I was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. Vandenberg has 20 miles of coastline that is basically closed to the public and people in residence, regardless if you are in the military or not. This rule didn’t seem to affect my fellow airmen and I from going body surfing on a lonely stretch of beach, far from controlling authorities. There was a submerged shelf that ran out a couple three hundred yards from the beach that was flat and about 6 feet deep.You could swim way out there and as the ocean waves came in, they would hit that shelf and make 5 feet high waves that white-capped all the way in. Now mind you, this was pre-Jaws and none of us had ever heard of a Great White shark. Year later I read where this stretch of beach was prime habitat and a couple years ago, an airman was killed right there.
We had been in the 65 degree water for about an hour and I was turning …

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

I wish I could remember who it was that said you can get a basic education in three years, but let us take a look at Ben Franklin as an example of that. We have a family joke that the answer to almost any Jeopardy clue is almost always “Who was Ben Franklin?”
When I am asked who I would most likely enjoy an afternoon with, it is always Ol’ Ben, the only President of the United States, who was never the President of the United States. Did you know he was the master of self-promotion and a man I admire? Even as a young lad, if he spotted a person of higher station, he would grab a shovel or some tool and begin to work diligently. The person would see him and remark, “What a fine worker that young man is!”
I’ve read a couple of books on the man and it still amazes me that he did so much with so little organized education. “From 1714-1716, Franklin attended Boston Grammar School and George Brownell's English School (for one year each) but he was withdrawn due to the expense of formal…