Last post, I gave a basic run down on what a trackable is. I covered travel bugs, trackable geocoins, and “dog tags”. This post, I wanted to go into what you actually are supposed to DO with a trackable item.
My father, ESP Boss, has a routine that he goes through every time he starts something new: buy a book and learn all about it! Taking up geocaching was no different. We’d heard about geocaching in a very simple sense but really didn’t know much about it. Before we headed out that first day in June 2008, ESP Boss had learned (and shared with me and The Queen Mother) all about log books and trackables.
Of course, it would be another 4 months before we actually FOUND our first trackable!
What I didn’t realize at the time was that, like geocaching, trackable items have their own “rules” and etiquette.
Geocaching.com explains it as: “Most owners would rather see their travel bugs do a lot of travelling, so try not to hold on to a travel bug for too long. If you plan on holding onto the bug for more than 2 weeks, make sure to send a courtesy email to the owner letting them know.”
But, I think there are a few other things that should also be considered “best practices” when it comes to travel bugs:
1. Log that you’ve picked up the trackable right away.
There’s nothing worse than visiting a cache thinking there’s a travel bug there only to not find it. Often times, people will mention that in the log: “TFTC. Didn’t see the TB.”
If you’re going to be responsible for a travel bug, be sure to log on geocaching.com right away that you have it. That keeps other cachers from being frustrated that it isn’t there AND lets the owner know that the travel bug hasn’t been lost, stolen or muggled!
2. Try to place the trackable as soon as possible.
The whole point of traveling items is to TRAVEL! Of course, I understand hanging on to one for a while until you find the perfect cache. Personally, I like to let them hang out on my desk, under my computer monitor for a while before I move them on.
3. Let the owner know if you’re hanging on to the item for a while.
Like geocaching.com says, it’s just a nice gesture. Most people invest anywhere from $4 – $12 in a trackable item so while they know it might go missing, it’s nice to know it hasn’t yet!
4. Be patient when somebody has your trackable item.
I know how frustrating it is waiting for my EatStayPlay.com Geocoin to move from one cache to the next. But, I keep reminding myself that everybody has a life outside of geocaching. If the person has had it 5 weeks or more, I MIGHT drop them a friendly note asking if they still have the item, but I don’t get too antsy. And stay polite!
A friend of mine picked up a travel bug that had a tractor attached to it. Her 3-year-old son fell in LOVE with the tractor! Carried it everywhere and even slept with it. The owner of the travel bug actually started sending emails asking when the item would be moved on, after about two weeks. Needless to say, my friend had to take the tractor away during her son’s naptime. Now, she thinks twice about picking up any trackable items that are attached to tractors, cars, or any other type of toy her son might become too attached to!
5. When you place the trackable, log it right away.
My last tip is rather like Tip 1: lot it on geocaching.com! Trackable items are less likely to go missing if everybody logs them into and out of geocaching.com as quickly as possible.
Like I said in The Truth About Trackables, I actually had a trackable geocoin picked up and moved on before I could even log that it was IN the cache! I try to always log trackables the same day I pick up, discover, or place them. That time, it was just that the other geocacher was able to get to their computer faster than I could!
For all you experienced geocachers: