On the Grid – Planning and Strategy

In my August 2015 On the Grid post, I mentioned that it takes a bit of planning and strategy to complete a 365 or 366 Grid. Since then I’ve had a few folks send e-mails or comments asking me what I meant by planning and strategy.

Since an explanation might benefit more folks than just those who asked, I thought it might be a good idea to put my thoughts together as a blog entry. Keep in mind that these are MY thoughts on planning and strategy. They work for me but may or may not work for you. I’ll let you figure that out on your own.

First let’s set the stage for this discussion. When I decided to start a 366 Grid, I’d been caching for almost 6 years and had found just over 700 caches, needless to say, the days on which I had actually found a cache were spread all over the calendar and I still needed to find a cache on each of about 150 days to fill in all of the blank spaces. Also, I do most of my caching in two areas…the areas within a few miles of my home and office (let’s call these my home areas).

OK, let’s dive in and start with planning.

When I think of planning I think of two things, planning for today’s caching effort and planning for future caching efforts. Planning for today’s caching effort is fairly straightforward. I take a look at the maps of caches in my home area or wherever I will be for the day, read the descriptions of the caches and pick one that I want to look for. I also pick out two or three additional caches as ‘back-ups’ in case I can’t find the cache that I had initially picked to hunt.

Planning for future caching efforts is a bit more involved and goes hand in hand with strategy. Understand that I’m a calendar-dependent person. There are some dates/events that I can remember pretty well like ConnieLou’s and the kids’ birthdays and I’m pretty good at remembering mine and
ConnieLou’s anniversary…but on any given day, I pretty much have no idea what might be on the schedule for some other day…so I keep a calendar. Personal events, work events, school dates, social events…they all go on my calendar. And I try to keep my calendar fairly up to date to at least a month or two out. For my 366 Grid, I also mark the days that I need to find a cache to fill in a grid square. Now I can tell not only what days that I need to find a cache but I also have a pretty good idea where I’m likely to be and what I might be doing, besides geocaching, on that day…thus allowing me to plan and pick caches to hunt at locations convenient to wherever I might be on that day.

Now let’s talk about strategy…

To me, strategy is the process of making sure that there are enough available caches to find with a reasonable amount of effort and within a reasonable distance to complete my grid. Here are a few things I do to keep the process rolling…

  • Save the easy caches. I try to tackle the more difficult caches in my home area before the easier ones. The easier caches are saved to be used as back-up caches when I can’t find the initial cache I’ve selected to hunt or to hunt on days that I don’t have much time or when the weather is crappy and I need a quick, easy find.
  • Take advantage of location. It’s not unusual for work or some other event to take me outside of my home areas, I usually know what’s coming up on my schedule thanks to that calendar I mentioned earlier and I can plan to find a cache outside my home area, thereby saving caches in my home area for later when I need something more convenient.
  • Take advantage of different types of caches. Traditional (single-stage) caches make up the bulk of the caches spread across the globe and it’s not unusual to encounter cachers that hunt primarily for traditional caches (hey, I’m one of ‘em). But…it doesn’t take much more than a quick look at the cache map for any given area to realize that there are plenty of other types of caches out there that can greatly increase the number of caches available to find and log. When time allows, do the multis, take a crack at solving some of the puzzles (there are plenty out there that aren’t hard at all), visit the earth caches or go to an event. Go beyond the traditional caches and increase your chances.
  • Use the days that you don’t need to find a cache to plan for the days that you do. It’s much easier to pick out caches to hunt when you’re not in a rush to get out the door and go find one. Pick out the cache you want to hunt and your back-ups then plan your route to all of them. Off-days are also a good time to spend some time solving puzzle caches to add to your list to find later.
  • Keep it fun!  Geocaching is supposed to be fun.  If it wasn’t there probably wouldn’t be over two and a half million caches and 6 million cachers scattered about the globe!  Knowing that you have to find a cache on a certain day or else your grid carries over for another year can add some pressure and take away from the fun.  Just hunting for a bunch of lamp post or guard rail caches can get pretty boring.   Hunt for the more challenging caches when time permits, go to a new location, go to a scenic location, do some multis and puzzles, cache with friends, cache at night.  Keep it fun!!

These are just a few of the things that work for me. Got other suggestions? Leave it in a comment so we all can benefit from it!

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