What is a Travel Bug?
A Travel Bug (TB) is a metal dog tag sold by Groundspeak, which can be attached to an item to create a hitchhiker. The term Travel Bug also refers to the combination of the dog tag and the hitchhiker. Travel Bugs are trackable online at Geocaching.com, although their movement can be tracked only amoung caches listed at that site.
Travel Bug dog tags have a "secret" tracking number on them, although some TB owners etch the tracking number on the item itself, rather than attaching the dog tag to the item. This tracking number is used by finders to post "Found It" logs for the TB. Travel Bugs also have a TBxxxx reference number that can be used to look them up in the Groundspeak database, but which cannot be used to post "Found It" logs for the TB.
Logging Travel bugs
If you look at the tag attached to the Travel Bug, you'll see some numbers stamped on it. This is the tracking number and can be used in the online log to confirm that you actually found the bug. Make sure you write it down because you won't be able to get it later without emailing the owner. Also, keep this number secret from other cachers (unless they also find the bug) because it can be used to log the bug as found when it really hasn't been
Now go to this page:
In the upper right of the page is a box for you to enter the tracking number. Enter the TB's number, then click 'search' and you'll be taken to the TB's personal page. Make sure you are logged into your account at this point. Click the 'add a log entry' link in the upper right. Select the type of log from the dropdown menu and enter the tracking number in the field below. Enter some comments in the box on whatever subject you like and click 'submit log entry' at the bottom.
If you return to the TBs page you'll see your log listed and the bug will be in your possession.
To drop a bug in a cache, navigate to the cache page and log your find. This time there will be a box below the description field that lists bugs in your online inventory. Highlight the bug you wish to drop (if there are more than one you can hold the ctrl key down while clicking to highlight two or more). When you submit your log the TB will be removed from your inventory and shown as being in the cache on the cache page.
Activating a Travel Bug
- Visit the Groundspeak web site.
- In the box under the Bug icon, enter in the Travel Bug number that is stamped on the bug you wish to activate. Click on the barcode beneath the box to visit that bug's web page.
- On the bug's page there is a link to activate your bug. Click on it (you will need to be logged in to Geocaching.com in order to activate).
- Enter in the tracking number and activation code into the boxes provided. Click to assign the bug to you.
- At this point the Travel Bug is activated as yours. Use the edit link in the upper right hand corner of the page to give your Travel Bug a name and description, and to upload images.
The number that is on a Travel Bug dog tag is considered by many to be kept secret to only those who have found it. The number allows anyone to move the hitchhiker from place to place and someone could cause harm if they had that number. Therefore, it's considered proper form to guard the secret number and not post it anywhere online whether in a log or a photo of the hitchhiker.