As someone who loves to travel and has been to over 15 countries so far, I’ve picked up a fun habit along the way – mailing myself a postcard from wherever I visit.
Now I know what you’re thinking. In today’s era of Instagram and Snapchat, postcards seem a bit outdated and unnecessary.
But I’m here to convince you that taking a few minutes to pick out, write and mail a postcard home is still worth doing whenever you travel.
Here are the reasons why it has become a treasured travel tradition of mine, and why you should adopt it too:
It’s Old School Nostalgic Fun
Maybe I’m just sentimental, but there’s something delightfully nostalgic about buying a postcard, sitting down to ponder what to write, dropping it in a mailbox and waiting for it to somehow (thanks to the magic of postal delivery systems!) arrive back at your home mailbox weeks later.
In a world of instant digital communication, it’s almost rebellious to use snail mail.
The child-like excitement I get when a postcard I mailed from Peru or Malaysia finally shows up can’t be replicated by an email or text. It takes me back to the simpler times of pen pals and handwritten letters. Give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean.
You’re Forced to Summarize Your Experience
Trying to sum up a multi-day trip on a tiny postcard teaches you what the highlights really were.
You have to distill the experience down into something concise enough to fit between “Wish you were here!” and your signature. It makes you reflect on what stood out – the food, the landscape, that crazy night out.
Those glimpses into a travel moment can often be more impactful than a long email about everything that happened. After all, as the saying goes, less is more.
For example, my postcard from Greece simply said: “Greek salad and gyros are now my favorite foods. Had to buy an extra suitcase for all the ceramic plates I found. Don’t forget to water my plants!”
It Captures a Point in Time
Postcards give you a snapshot in time to look back on.
When I stumbled upon the postcard I mailed from the Grand Canyon three years ago, I was immediately transported back to that awe-inspiring view. The act of writing and mailing a postcard forces you to be present and thoughtful in that particular moment of your trip.
Years later when I rediscover a stack of old postcards, it’s incredibly nostalgic and almost timewarpy to read my impressions when they were fresh. It’shands down better than scrolling back through old social media posts.
You Can Get Creative
While social media demands polished images and lengthy captions, postcards are your chance to get creative and silly.
I try to come up with the most random yet descriptive messages like:
“Greetings from sunny Aruba! Swam with sea turtles yesterday and learned the mini bar rum goes great with everything!”
Or from Japan: “Having an amazing time exploring Tokyo. Their toilets are wildly high-tech. Also ate sushi from a conveyor belt yesterday.”
It’s almost like sharing little inside jokes with my future self.
I love looking back on the quirky and candid highlights I chose to include. Way more fun than just writing “Wish you were here!”
You Can Surprise People Back Home
Beyond sending yourself a mini memorabilia keepsake, postcards are also a thoughtful (and affordable) way to surprise others back home with a hello.
I’ll often mail postcards to close friends or family I want to share my adventure with.
Getting a handwritten postcard from me when I’m halfway around the world excites them almost as much as it does me. It’s an easy way to brighten someone’s day that they’ll appreciate far more than a mass Facebook post.
Plus, who doesn’t love getting real mail that isn’t bills or junk?
The priceless reaction when my grandma received my postcard from Machu Picchu was worth every penny.
It’s Cheap and Easy Souvenir Shipping
Rather than trying to pack delicate souvenirs in my luggage to take home, postcards double as the perfect lightweight, durable keepsake.
I buy and mail myself postcards from gift shops, museums, landmarks and more as an alternative to breakable figurines or giant paintings.
It saves me money on checked bag fees or paring down my souvenir purchases to just what fits in my carry-on. For just the cost of a stamp, mailing postcards let me “shop” for many more fun, location-specific souvenirs without hassle.
Plus, it’s much more reliable than checking a bag with that “World’s Best Grandma” snowglobe you just had to have. We all know how that ends!
Most importantly, sending yourself postcards along the way captures visceral memories that photos and social media can’t. The sights, smells, textures and feelings of a place get distilled into the postcard image and message I scribbled down.
Years later, finding that faded postcard transports me back to that destination almost like I’m there again. It vividly conjures up what it felt like to be in that place at that specific time. It’s priceless mental time travel.
So next time you’re visiting somewhere new, make time to keep the old postcard tradition alive.
Pick your favorite scenic view or landmark, jot down a few words to remember the highlights, add a stamp and drop it in the mail.
When your future self discovers that forgotten postcard years down the road, the nostalgia rush will be well worth the 42 cent investment. It will whisk you away to that place and moment so much more vividly than any Instagram pic can.
In our high-tech world, sometimes the simplest things still offer the most joy if you make space for them.
Sending yourself postcards along the journey is an easy way to deepen and enrich your travel experiences.
So be a tourist, get a little old-school retro, and start dropping postcards in the mail to your future self. You can thank me later when you stumble upon that bundle of memories down the road!
Frequently Asked Questions About Mailing Postcards
What should I write on my postcards?
Focus on highlighting specific memories, funny anecdotes, or emotions you felt during notable moments you want to capture from your trip. Keep it concise.
What kind of postcards works best?
Vibrant images that encapsulate the destination work well. Opt for poster-style panoramic views or unique landmarks. Avoid generic or cheesy stock photos.
When should I mail the postcards during my trip?
Mail them during downtime like from your hotel room at the end of each day. This helps you summarize moments while they’re fresh. Spread them out to capture different parts of your journey.
Should I mail postcards to anyone else?
It can be thoughtful to also mail postcards to close friends or family you want to share your adventure with in a more personal way.
How do I make sure it actually reaches my home mailbox?
Double check you have the correct mailing address, include a return address, and add enough postage for its destination. Opt for airmail if traveling internationally.
Where can I buy interesting postcards when traveling?
Gift shops, museums, landmarks, hotels, airports, convenience stores, and gas stations often sell postcards. Scope them out!