A pair of travel bugs
Small dog tags, usually attached to objects
Small metal, plastic, or wooden coins with different inscriptions on them
Trackables are a special type of object found within geocaches that contain a unique tracking code.
Types of Trackables
There are two main types of trackables, a Travel Bug and a Geocoin. Travel bugs resemble dog tags and are usually attached to objects. Geocoins resemble actual coins, though there are many variations that deviate from the traditionally circular shape of a coin.
What to do if you find a trackable
Trackables are unique from swag in that they not only have a mission, but they actually belong to someone. As such, they are not meant to be kept in private collections. However, this does not prevent the act from happening (see geocoins for more information). Some trackables will have attached tags or paperwork (if inside a baggie) that explains its mission, if any has been assigned.
If you decide to move a trackable, it is important that the item is properly logged online. Improper logging is one of the more common reasons that a trackable goes missing. Whether you are moving a travel bug or a geocoin, the procedure will be the same. The Geocaching Trackables page is the main page through which you will begin logging trackables.
Logging Trackables Online
To "Retrieve" (or pick up) a trackable, follow these steps:
- Go to the Geocaching Trackables page.
- Next to "Enter the Tracking Number of the Item", enter in the code found on either the Travel Bug or the Geocoin, then hit the "Track" button. If an error occurs, or you get the wrong item, check to make sure you entered the code correctly. An example of a common mistake is entering the letter O as the number 0, and vice versa.
- When the respective trackable page comes up, confirm if it is the same item you have in your possession. This can usually be done by looking at the item's "Present Location", a picture in the description, or the most recent logs.
- If you are on the correct page, and the "Present Location" is the geocache you found it in, click on the "Found it? Log it!" link in the upper right "Trackable Item Options" box.
- Change the "Type of Log" to "Retrieve from...."
- Make sure the date is the date you picked it up (by default, it will select the current date).
- Re-enter the tracking code (while it can be annoying, this is a security feature that prevents random people randomly moving the item's virtual location).
- Type in a message. Make sure you do not put the tracking number in ANY log that you write. The tracking number would allow anyone to bypass the security feature.
- When finished, hit the "Submit Log Entry" button.
Congratulations! You just "Retrieved" a trackable.
To "Drop" a trackable, follow these steps:
- Make sure to write down the geocache you leave the trackable in.
- Go to the page for that geocache.
- Click on the "Log your visit" link in the upper right "Navigation" box.
- Fill out a geocache log just like you normally would, but stop before you hit "Submit Log Entry".
- Find the box just above "Submit Log Entry" that says "Dropped off any Trackables" above it.
- Click on the name of the trackable you dropped so that it is highlighted. If you dropped more than one trackable into that cache, then CTRL-Click on each name so that they are all highlighted.
- Click on "Submit Log Entry".
Congratulations! You have now "Dropped" a trackable.
What if it's MISSING?
Sometimes, you'll find a geocache that claims there is a trackable inside, but you can't find the trackable. Several things could have happened:
- Somebody visited and picked up the trackable between the time you last looked at the cache page and the time you visited it.
- Somebody recently picked up the trackable but hasn't gotten online to log it yet.
- Somebody picked up the trackable at some point and forgot to log it.
So what can you do? One thing is to look at the logbook/logsheet. A previous finder might have mentioned picking up the item by name or description. EX: "I grabbed the Duck TB" - XXXX If you see the item mentioned, take note of the date. If it was within the last few days, they might not have logged it. Previous logs online might hint at who grabbed it as well.
The best thing to do is to mention that you didn't see it in the geocache when you log your find. Never mention anyone's name, just a polite "I didn't see XXXX travel bug/geocoin inside the cache." Also consider logging a "Note" on the travel bug page itself saying that you didn't see it. This can help alert the owner that the item might be on the move or missing, allowing them to keep track of it and contact geocachers if needed.
- Travel bugs may be purchased at Shop Groundspeak by following this link.
- Geocoins may be purchased at Shop Groundspeak by following this link.
- There are also many licensed sellers of geocaching products, including travel bugs and geocoins. Check out the Distributors page at Shop Groundspeak for links.