Cache ratings will give you a very good idea about the kind of cache you are looking at. In addition to the ratings you may want to consider the following factors as you glance at cache search results:
Accessibility: How easy will it be to get to the cache? This question is especially important if you plan on taking small children, are wheelchair-bound, or want to go by bike. The terrain ratings will give you a good idea about the likelihood of accessibility issues. Warnings will sometimes also be included in the description of the cache.
Distance: How far is the cache from my present location? Remember that there can sometimes be a huge difference between as-the-crow-flies distance and the distance that you will have to cover by car or on foot. One way to determine the latter is to type in your start and end points (or positions as close to it as possible) into the ‘Get Directions’ field in Google Maps.
Cost: How much will it cost me to find this cache? Geocaching can be very inexpensive or even totally free if you stick to hunting caches in your local area or neighbourhood. There might, however, be some costs involved when you venture further afield. Some of the potential expenditures that you should include in your calculations include:
· Admission fees (e.g. if the cache is hidden in a location where an entry fee or permit is required)
· Fuel costs
· Accommodation costs (if finding the cache will require an overnight stay)
Weather: Is this a good time of year to try to find this particular cache? Some caches may be hidden in areas that can become extremely dry and hot during summer, while others may be located in areas that are covered in snow in winter. It is therefore a good idea to give some thought to the general weather conditions before making your selection. This can be followed up by checking out the relevant weather forecast once you have selected a cache.
Time: How long will it take me to find this cache? Many caches can be found in an hour or so, especially when they are hidden in your local area. In some other cases (e.g. caches that score higher on the terrain and difficulty ratings) something akin to the launching of an expedition may be required! Listings will include an approximate time. It is highly recommended that you cross check this with the feedback left by previous finders. Doing so will help you to form an accurate picture of the amount of time that may be required.
Child friendliness: Can the kids come? There is obviously no easy or uniform answer to this question as children differ so much in terms of their abilities and interests. You should spend some time weighing all the different factors (terrain, difficulty, weather, time commitment etc) so that you can come to an informed decision on whether a particular cache would be suitable for the younger members of your family. If you do plan on regularly taking your kids along it would perhaps be best to start them off with some very easy caches and monitoring their responses. (Most kids absolutely love geocaching, especially the treasure hunting aspect of it!)
Dog friendliness: Can I bring my ‘best friend’ along? Many people like to take their dogs along when they go geocaching (this is no doubt greatly appreciated by the dogs!). There are some locations, however, where bringing a dog is not encouraged, or even actively prohibited (e.g. some nature reserves).
Type of cache: What would I like to find? There are many different types of caches. It could be that you are particularly attracted to a certain type (e.g. you are intrigued by the challenge of finding very small micro-caches). My recommendation is that you start out by searching for a few traditional caches before perhaps moving off in more specialised directions.
Weighing up all of these factors and then deciding on a cache that you would like to pursue is a very special moment as it marks the beginning of the transition from theory to practice!