How to Prevent Travel Bugs and Coins from going Missing


I have a sneaky little trick up my sleeve 😉

Have you ever released a Travel bug or Coin into the Geocaching wild, only for a fellow cacher to lose it, a muggle to take it or for it to just go missing for one reason or another? If you have you’re one of many cachers who have. The fact is most trackable items do end up missing sooner or later and it’s very frustrating and sucks the fun right out of it. Fingers are pointed and there just isn’t anything fun about it.

I’ve only released 3 travel bugs in my time and only one is still accounted for and racking up miles. I attribute my sneaky little trick to it’s continued success :)

So what is my sneaky little trick for keeping travel bugs from going missing?

Leverage the power of superstition! My travel bug that continues to move from cache to cache and has been for over 1 1/2 years is a good luck charm. But if you don’t pass it on quickly, your luck may change 😉 Here is exactly what I state on the description:

“All who hold this 4-leaf clover will have good luck, but don’t hold on to it for any longer than a couple days or your luck may change”

prevent travel bug from getting lost

I know what you’re thinking… it’s like a chain letter. No, it’s not. I’m not asking cachers to do anything they wouldn’t normally do, I’m not sending the TB to their mailbox (no requirment to pick it up) and I’m not making threats. It’s all in good fun and I’ve had nothing but good feedback from cachers =)

It works and who knows, maybe my little TB really is a good luck charm to some.

So what about you? Do you have any tips for preventing a TB or Coin from going missing? I would love to read them below.

  1. Dan Overes
    Dan Overes07-20-2010

    I don’t do anything special for the trackables I put out, but for trackables I move along I always make an extra effort to put them in caches that are not likely to be muggled, or in caches that require a little extra effort to reach to prevent them from being lost to the casual coin-thieves.

    Of course, I also try and balance this against putting trackables in caches that are so difficult that the bug is likely to be trapped for months on end.

  2. Ruhrcacher

    I totaly agree with this idea.
    My travelbug (literaly!) has a simliar description. Most cacher move it quickly and refer to the curse in ther logs.

    Look here:

  3. admin

    @ Ruhrcacher – lol that’s the evil version I guess. Man, that little guy does look scary!

  4. Muscache

    I have been running across “copies” of GCs for a while now. These are actual photocopies (laminated) of the coin and are sent out in place of the “real” one. I can’t say this is as much fun as holding the real thing, but it serves to keep it in circulation longer since it is easily replaced. I have a TB that went to the Middle East and across the US, only to be picked up by a rookie cacher over a year ago who hasn’t cached since getting it and doesn’t return emails. Maybe he’ll come upon it when cleaning out his car one day and think “I should get back into caching…”

  5. stickerooni

    Hmmm…I have to say that releasing only three trackables and having only one still in circulation hardly seems like a success story worthy of a ‘trick’ to keeping it in circulation.

    I’ve released over 100 geocoins and about 40 are still travelling. it seems to me to be a luck of the draw as to what travels well and what doesn’t. I’ve tried defacing my coins and drilling holes in them so that they are less attractive to thieves, but just as many of them have gone missing as have those in pristine condition.

    Occasionally a coin that’s been missing for over a year will turn up as found in some strange cache, and that’s always a treat.

    I have found that coins and TB’s that find their way over-seas tend to live and travel longer than those in the U.S.

  6. admin

    @ Muscache – Yeah I have copies for those of mine that were lost/stolen, but for some reason I just don’t feel inclined to release them. I figured I might as well just start a new one.

    @ stickerooni – Ok, you got me. Good point 😉 Especially when compared to your 100! I guess it’s just a hunch that makes sense to me.

  7. c&jb

    Wish, I had seen all of this before, I put out my first “cachekin” that disappeared the day after I set it out.

  8. Emily Preece
    Emily Preece07-20-2010

    Well, I tend to agree with the “thread” of the conversation here….

    No matter what you do, some “newbie” or just plain “jerk” is gonna keep your trackable, if they have a mind to…. It’s a shame; but it’s true. Even trying to just limit their travel to “premium” caches doesn’t work. I have put out about 40 bugs; and only 20 of them are still circulating. One, (like the person’s above) traveled all around the world, only to get taken by some guy named “Sarge” who won’t answer e-mails. Another TB of mine was a treasured coin with a black-lab on it that I had especially purchased from a guy in the Netherlands. When our 15+ year-old lab, “Gina” died, I put it out to travel, because she no longer could. The coin moved 13 miles, and then was taken! Talk about a bummer!…

    Nope, nothing works… Not attaching messages, good luck charms, or anything.

    The Lesson To This Story Is:
    You set your TBs loose putting them at the mercy of the morality of the person who finds it next……

  9. Monterey Company
    Monterey Company07-28-2010

    This is a fun idea. I wonder if over the course of your time placing more out there, if your success rate will higher then it is now? I think it would be a fun experiment to run and also will add a whole other dimension to the hunt! Imagine getting a trackable that come with a karmic warning? LOL

  10. ValleyPirates6

    I haven’t put any out there yet but they certainly are the treasure that I seek. I like trying to help along the TB’s to their destination but as I am relatively new at this, it was difficult to figure out how to log them at first. Maybe that is part of the problem. I don’t personally know a single cacher other than myself and don’t have anyone to help me learn or motivate me. Everything I have learned I done on my own. I would bet it is a lot of newbies with a lack of experience and drive.
    If I get one of your TB’s, know that it will hit the road running for the next cache!

  11. Dog Cacher
    Dog Cacher10-24-2010

    Good Topic!
    – I’ve had every one of my TBs go missing, although some made it across from California to the East Coast and onwards to Europe and one to Serbia before going offline. I have a friend with much more geocaching experience than me who says drilling holes in the geocoins keeps his from being kept. Any geocoin I’ve bought that is special for me, I keep or I buy a second and release that. I might consider putting a laminated copy out there if the original gets stolen, but not because I want to keep one at home safe from traveling.

  12. pjavellana

    Visiting in Alaska from Florida and left 2 TB’s here in a nice cache. One of them is my first TB and another I brought up here with me.

    I know my TB will be safe for a few months because it snowed here and not many people will be out geocaching in the winter cold and snow, but hopefully it will move soon and not in the spring or summer.

    I have my name all over my TB, but I know that will not help the ones who actually want it. A lot of dishonest people out there.

    I put a TB in a cache under a bridge and the next person found the cache thrown all over the woods and didn’t find the TB…they said maybe an animal – yeah right, maybe of the two legged kind. People have no respect at all sometimes.

  13. Mike

    I have yet to launch any TB/GC journeys myself, but I finally got a TB sticker for our “cache-mobile”. When I finally do, I’m just going on the default assumption that at some point it’s going to go missing. So I won’t be attaching one to anything with sentimental value. Hot Wheels car maybe, or a key chain, etc. Nothing that I’ll be too upset about, should it come up missing.

    No Geocoins though. Any I buy, will be for my own personal collection. I’ll probably take them to events for other cachers to “discover”, as I’ve seen plenty of fellow cachers do. But I’m not going to invest my money on something I don’t want to lose, or has a 50/50 shot of getting taken.

    I have “rescued” 2 TB’s from oblivion though. One time a cacher (who I later found out, only found 17 caches & quit the game) saw us at a cache & stopped to say hi. He pulled the TB out of his glove box & said “hey, I forgot I had this, can you move it along”. The TB owner was thrilled to see it back in the game. Another one was off-the-grid for 2 years, then one day showed up in the cache nearest our house, as if by magic.

    I can’t think of any tricks to keep ’em going, that are sure to work. Maybe if you make your TB something that no one would want to keep or muggle, like a toy rat/bat/spider/snake/etc. I found a toy cockroach TB once. I hate those things, so there was NO WAY I was going to keep it (not that I would anyways, LOL). Playing the “bad luck/bad juju” card, could work unless the thief doesn’t believe in that stuff.

  14. Bogatatracker

    All my Travel bugs have something attached to them asking the Geocacher to keep the bug moving. I hope the guilt factor might help. I do have one guy who took a bug after one cache and gave up on the hobby. The bug moved zero miles. Also my bugs are dam ugly. I think that helps. Sort of a love them and leave them factor. Hi from NJ.

  15. Luke

    Very clever tip, I know I have held onto a travel bug a little too long when my 5 year old son found it “attached to a truck,” and wanted to play with it.

  16. azza-ro

    Although we have never owned any TBs we do retrieve and move along most we come across. When we release them again we always drop them into a well concealed cache which hopefully will at least avoid them being stolen my muggles.

  17. RDog1200

    When I logged one of the first TBs that I grabbed, I received an email from the owner within about 10 minutes from Germany, thanking me for retrieving the bug and encouraging me to keep it moving. The email was quick, friendly, and motivating and made me commit to myself to keep it moving along as soon as possible. In essence a connection was established with the other geocacher and I did not want to let them down.

    I try to do the same thing when I get the email notification that one of my bugs has been grabbed. I send a quick thank you and respond to whatever they say in their log. It seems to work well for those who log it. Some forget to log it until they drop it in another cache.

    The type of logs for bugs are confusing to people and they don’t always discern the difference from Discovering and Retrieving (grabbing) and Dipping and Placing, etc.

  18. FerryTales

    One more idea. Many TB:s have no instructions ON them. Only online.
    I added : “If you need to hold on to this TB more than a week, email me on this address so I know it hasn’t gone lost”.
    That works! To ease the stress from people and act more easy going is actually working.

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