A Travel Bug (TB) is one of those aluminium tags attached to something that you find in a cache. They are items that you can remove from a cache without needing to swap with anything else. When some people are learning how to geocache they aren't always sure of what is the right etiquette when it comes to handling TBs.
The idea of TBs is that geocachers move them to another cache so that the TBs have little adventures of their own. TBs can log tens of thousands of miles as they travel around the world.
Every time someone retrieves or places a TB its owner receives an email and can track its progress. In this way they can enjoy its travels vicariously. The geocaching site has a feature where TB voyages are plotted on Google Earth. It's amazing to see how far and wide these things travel - just by hitch-hiking!
So what do you do if you find one? What is the correct etiquette?
Firstly realize that they belong to someone else and while it's in your possession it's your responsibility to look after it.
You should place it in another cache as soon as possible. Don't leave it for many weeks before you place it somewhere else. The only exception I would make to this is if you are planning to go on an overseas trip and the goal of the TB is to travel around the world.
The cache in which you place it should be one that is visited fairly frequently. In other words don't hide it in a cache that is rarely visited, such as a difficult puzzle cache, or one in a remote location etc.
If you come across a TB in a cache that is visited infrequently, do the person a favour and move it on. They'll be very grateful.
If you own a TB, please don't attach some large object to it. It can be very difficult to find a cache large enough to accommodate something large. If I find such a TB, I usually won't move it on for that reason.
If you do lose a TB that is in your possession, inform the TB owner. I'd rather know than have to chase you up. One of my TBs didn't move for months. I kept following up with the last person who eventually placed it somewhere. It took 6 months though.
Even though geocaching has been around for over 10 years, it's surprising to find that many people have never heard of it, or if they have, how to geocache.
So what is it?
Some people describe geocaching as a high-tech treasure hunting game.
Geocachers hide a container called a geocache (or cache for short) somewhere and record the co-ordinates of its location using a GPS receiver. These co-ordinates plus a description of the location and possibly a hint about how to find it are entered into a huge online database at www.geocaching.com.
Other geocachers can then search for caches near a particular location – wherever they may be in the world. Every country in the world has at least one cache. Even Antarctica has caches.
If you want to participate you need to register at www.geocaching.com. A Basic Membership is free and allows you to view the co-ordinates of the geocaches. A Premium Membership is very economical at US$30 per year and provides a wide range of useful features compared to Basic Membership.
You will need to buy or borrow a GPS receiver in order to find geocaches. However there are individuals who manage to find geocaches by referring to a map!
Many geocachers have become concerned about the increasingly poor quality of geocaches that are being placed.
This Progeocaching site is aims to show people how to geocache properly and help to put the quality back into the game.