Sometimes you come across something that you are not sure is a hobby, a thing to pass the time or an obsession. And right now I am trying to figure out this one.
Cruising on Pinterest one day, I came across a pin, that read something like…send and receive postcards from around the world.
Sounds like fun, so sign me up.
PostCrossing.com is a service that hooks up people from around the world who want to learn a little about where other people live and received a postcard. The service is free, and all they ask of you is to send a postcard.
Thinking that residing in a touristy area, it would be easy to come across a postcard. It turns out it is not as easy as I would have thought. It took about two days of going to every CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens in the area to finally find the prize.
Okay, I will admit I finally gave up and headed to Flamingo Gardens, (more about that place later) and bought some from the gift shop. But hey, it had a smiling alligator on it. My next step was trying to figure out how to mail it. It turns out American Forever stamps do not work for international mail, but thankfully the helpful postal work (who had to return my first attempt) told me to buy forever international stamps. So during my lunch break at work, I bought ones that have the moon on it. Not the most decorative ones, but it worked. And my postcard finally got sent out on Jul 17, 2016, and was received by a girl in Russia on August 28 (that was two attempts later).
I got my first postcard on August 24th, and it was a beautiful one from Japan.
There were a couple of things I learned along the way with this. One, have fun writing and decorating the postcard. Two, buy in bulk, that way you are not running around trying to find postcards. Three, forever international stamps are the way to go.
The neat thing about this service is that you can track your postcards. So I hear are my statistics since I signed up for this service/hobby/obsession. I have sent 7 postcards to the following countries: China, Russia, Belarus, Canada, Latvia, and 2 to Germany. I have received 4 so far: Hong Kong, Russia, Taiwan, and Japan. So far I have two in transit (I don’t where they are coming from).
Here is how it works, you sign up for it. You receive an address with a registration code on it. You buy a postcard from your local drugstore, grocery store, tourist destination, etc. You write the register code on it, plus whatever messages you want. Mail it. When the person receives the postcard, he or she goes online and register it. Then your information goes into a pot, somebody draws it and send you a postcard.
You can send up to 6 postcards at once, (I usually do). And I love receiving the postcards, because it is nice to get something in the mail that isn’t bills or junk.
In a world where we are just a mouse click away and yet have lost the art of communications, it is a great way of learning a little more about the world.
Since I have started this, I have a couple of questions about the services (mostly from friends who want to do this with their children).
I don’t speak any other language than English, is this going to be a problem?
Not really, I read on a third grade level of Spanish, and a little bit of Danish, and had no problem communicating. You can make a choice where you only received postcards that are in English, but where is the fun in that. I had one that the greeting was written in Japanese (It’s cool to see your name in another language) and the rest was written in English. Some of the words were a little strange, but I had no trouble understanding what she was telling me.
How much does usually cost you?
The biggest cost is the stamps, which I bought the international forever stamps (about $1.15) and the cost of a postcard. I have a tendency to buy a lot of postcards at once. My last purchase was 12 cards that cost me about $10.00. It’s not a very expensive hobby.
I want my child to learn about other people, is this a safe hobby for them, is it a good hobby for them?
Two of my postcards have been sent to students (Honk Kong and Belarus) both wanting to practice their English. I think this is a very good hobby for kids because not only do they learn a little bit about the world (I had to look up where Belarus was) but also a good way to practice writing a letter. It is very safe, but you can always sign them up for PO box, if you are unsure. A couple of my friends’ kids (ages 8 – 13) have signed up and get really excited about receiving postcards.
What are you going to do with all those postcards? (OJ asked me this one)
I planned to add them to my travel journal when I visit that country.
What types of postcard can you send?
Any kind as long as it’s PG and family friendly. So far I have received a postcard that had a Chinese poem on it, tulips, some beautifully dressed Maiko, and advertisement for a Bus Company (it was written in Taiwanese but the cartoon buses on the in back were cute!). And I have sent anything with a picture of Florida beaches, wildlife, Disney characters and maps on it.
What do you write on the postcard?
Usually I included the date and the weather. And then anything else is depending on the profile. If there is a special interest, then I included it. One of my postcards went to a guy in Germany who likes to collect stamps so I added another stamp for his collection. Sometime I add a hand drawn map or some other graphics. Another one was interested in beer, so I put a picture of a locally brewed beer with a postcard of the beach, so he can enjoy a beer on the beach. He loved it!
The point is to have fun with it.
I would love to receive a postcard, but I don’t like to write.
That’s okay, my tulip one only said Hi from Russia. But the picture was very pretty and I was just happy it wasn’t a bill. You can write as little or as much as you want.
That’s about it, I hope you all sign up for postcrossing and as we say keep posting.