Postcards from strangers

One of the coolest things about having lots of friends who travel is getting postcards from around the world. Sadly, letter and postcard writing don’t seem to be as common as they used to be. Much of the stuff coming through the mailbox these days is either bills or junk mail. Going to the mailbox has gotten to be a drag.

An organization called Postcrossing is trying to change that. This free group allows members to trade cards with strangers. You log in and request to send a card, and someone’s address is sent to you, along with a unique country-coded number. You pick a card, write a nice message with the code included, and pop it in the mail. Once the recipient gets the card and registers it on the site by using the number, you’re put next in line to get a card from a different stranger. There’s also a forum where people can arrange “private swaps” for particular countries or images.

With more than 100,000 members in 196 countries, the idea is catching on. I’m a member, as is former Gadling blogger Abha Malpani. Earlier this year Postcrossing reached the milestone of two million postcards received and one active member has racked up a thousand just by himself.

Various Postcrossers have created interesting spinoff blogs about their obsession, such as Wild Postcards and A Postcard a Day. Warning: Wild Postcards is occasionally not work safe, as the blogger likes old pin-up cards. Nude women with mom hair. Yipe!

Postcrossing is a great way to get cards from around the world and set up trading exchanges with people you may never meet. Consider it a form of staycation. It’s fun for kids too. My three-year-old son is learning a lot about the world. He specifically wants postcards of cars and trains and about half the cards I get are meant for him!