My family, like many others who enjoy traveling, went from taking road trips and flying cross-country to doing almost nothing in 2020.
I had anticipated that our newfound seclusion would be just temporary and easily reversed.
Even though coronavirus cases in our area were declining and scientists advising that wearing a mask and going outside would reduce the majority of the danger of transmission, it was difficult to persuade my children to leave the house.
My oldest opted to spend his time on Roblox exploring virtual worlds rather than visiting the real-world locations we had previously visited.
Many families are still modifying their weekend excursions to enjoy the last of the warm weather,
with the virus and its mutations still at large and the vaccine only a speck on the horizon for young children (with less of a threat of heatwaves and wildfires).
While not every family is keen to go on long bike rides or hike the trails, there are ways to pique a child’s interest in the great outdoors and allow them to investigate. Welcome to the world of geocaching.
WHERE DO I BEGIN WITH GEOCACHING?
We sought a strategy to break my children’s screen addiction when they first started.
That’s when we came across geocaching: a global network of hiders and seekers who collaborate to create a scavenger hunt that takes place both virtually and physically.
There are already 3 million caches hidden in 191 countries across all seven continents.
Hiders, who can be anyone, hide caches in common places like parking lots, benches, and forest trails.
Then, using their favorite app or website, such as Geocaching, people provide hints and information on where these hidden riches can be found.
The prize could be as simple as a roll of paper on which you write your name, or as exciting as a strange item, a perplexing riddle, or a perplexing fortune.
This provides families with a plethora of destinations to visit on their road travels.
You can filter geocaches by location, terrain difficulty, and accessibility using the Geocaching app, which is a free tool that I use with my kids.
(Some caches are accessible by car, which is ideal if one child refuses to participate in the adventure.)
Mark the cache as located and write comments about your success once you finish a task.
Alternatively, make a note of your failures so you can return to the location when you’re next in the region.
The program, which is available for Android and iOS, also offers a premium version that includes advanced filters, bookmarking, offline maps, and access to a large number of off-road caches.
HOW TO GEOCACHE WHILE ON THE ROAD
While geocaching is a great way to get the kids out of the house for a few hours, it’s also a great way to break up a fall road trip or avoid crowded places and indoor attractions.
You may plan your geocache stops on the app ahead of time, just like you might research the best restaurants along a driving route.
Find the right position on the Geocaching map and scope out the region for potential caches if you know you’ll need a break halfway to your favorite leaf-peeping spot.
Make sure to read the entire description to ensure that the terrain and difficulty of the search are appropriate for everyone in your group.
If you don’t feel like organizing your geocaching trips ahead of time, you can always check the app while driving when the kids need to go to the toilet or the backseat starts to rumble like a rodeo.
Allow the older kids to participate in the decision-making process by allowing them to browse neighboring caches and select one for the family.
Give younger explorers a sneak peek at the clues to get them excited about the mystery.
Put the front and center of the prize if all else fails to sell the chase.