My interest in travel started when I went on my first airplane journey to London at the age of three. The seeds of wanderlust were firmly sown when I flew to New York aged seven for my brother’s wedding. I spent quite a while before that trip worried that I wouldn’t understand anybody there, because I didn’t speak ‘American’. I know I am incredibly lucky to have travelled so much when I was so young, and my parents are undoubtedly responsible for giving me my love of travel.
When you travel with your children, you are giving them something that can never be taken away … experience, exposure and a way of life.
~ Pamela T. Chandler
Travel books were my guide when I went on a solo interrailing trip to Switzerland, Austria and Germany in 2005, and when I visited more far flung locations like Dubai and Argentina later on. When I discovered geocaching in 2013, however, the way I travelled changed forever.
Now, planning a trip is heavily influenced by geocaching. I occasionally still purchase guidebooks, although I find travel blogs to be much more up my street (surprise, surprise). Intense scrutiny of the geocaching map always goes hand in hand with my travel planning these days, and there are a few reasons why.
1. Hidden Gems
Every geocacher has heard the oft-repeated adage that geocaching brings you to some amazing, otherwise unheard of locations, and it’s true. Whether it’s a secret viewpoint, a quirky cafe or a leafy park away from the tourist bustle, following the geocaches when you’re travelling can lead to some great discoveries.
2. Tourist Hot Spots
While I love uncovering secret locations while I’m travelling, there’s no getting away from at least some of the well-known tourist spots, especially when you visit somewhere for the first time. The great thing about being a geocacher is that a cursory look at the caching map will show you where those places are, which is especially handy if you’re short on data and have your caches saved to offline ;). No other maps needed!
While it may not be possible to hide a geocache at such tourist traps, it’s likely you’ll find an offset cache, like a multi or mystery, where the published coordinates will bring you to the attraction. This is how we found the famous fire station from the Ghostbusters movies while we were in New York City in 2015!
3. A Different Perspective
There is something so refreshing about immersing yourself in a culture that seems a world away from your own. Often though, travel involves cultures that are quite similar to our own, and in places like this, what you need is a fresh perspective.
I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Cache owners can be veritable fountains of local customs, stories and folklore you may not find elsewhere, and this can really help to open your mind up to somewhere new and try to understand what makes the people tick.
4. Meeting the Locals
I often hear visitors to Ireland remark on how friendly we are as a nation, and it’s a fairly accurate assessment: we will generally talk to anybody about anything; it’s simply part of our culture. This is, however, not true of every culture, where small talk with strangers just doesn’t really happen. In these situations, it can be difficult to get to know anybody and, in my opinion, it’s when talking to locals that you get to really know a place.
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.
~ Tim Cahill
This is why I love to host, or at least attend, a geocaching event when I visit somewhere new. I don’t do it every time, simply because time doesn’t always permit it, but I will always try my best to, if I possibly can.
5. Your Personal Tour Guide
If you are travelling somewhere with an active geocaching community, you can forget the guidebook and let the local cache owners be your guide! Geocaches really are the perfect travel companions. If you do attend or host an event, you may even be lucky enough to have local cachers share additional tips on caches or other must-see spots you may have overlooked!
Do you think being a geocacher has any other advantages when you’re travelling? Let me know in the comments!
2017 | Sarah McLarkey | All Rights Reserved