Call me old-fashioned (it’s a compliment!), but I love sending postcards when I travel. I even have a list of favorite folks I send cards to from abroad; they include my parents and in-laws, naturally, as well as two favorite aunts, the Husband’s aunt and uncle and his great aunt and great uncle, my elementary school secretary (she turns 90 this August), and a good friend in the Netherlands.
Receiving postcards from traveling friends and family is awesome too. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the folks who regularly send us postcards from their travels: Jim, one of our closest friends and one of six guests from our wedding; Elaine, the Husband’s aunt; and Frank, the Husband’s great uncle. That’s it. Three people. I have two more fingers on that one hand.
By the way, Frank rocks! His postcards are usually beer mats from the many, many craft breweries he and his wife sample.
Post Card > Facebook Post (This is a mathematical fact. Mathematical fact? Is that a thing?)
I could go all curmudgeonly and rant about how the young folk (and the old folk) seem to think posting a photo to Facebook or texting a snapshot is comparable to addressing, writing, stamping, and sending a postcard from some far-flung locale. They ain’t. They ain’t even close.
But isn’t vacation a time to relax? Of course, it is. It’s not a time to feel stressed about sending out postcards to 100 of your dearest friends. It is, though, a time to remember a handful of folks with a note to show that you’re thinking of them and want to share a little taste of the experience you’re having.
Who Doesn’t Love Getting Mail from a Toddler?
Remembering people, especially the older ones you might not see that often, is a value I intend to pass along to Little A. By the time she’s a teenager, who knows where social media will have taken us. Whatever. That’s fine. But as she chronicles our vacations digitally – as she almost certainly will — I want her also to put pen to paper and send greetings from Barcelona to her Spanish teacher or a rugged landscape from North Wales to her grandparents.
Right now, Little A is much to small to write anything, but she can scribble with a crayon. And that’s what she did on our recent trip to the UK. I’ll address the postcards using my super-easy method (see below!), and then I’ll hand them over to Little A. Armed with a crayon, she’ll add a squiggle of purple or a blob of orange. I’ll “sign” the card for her, and we’ll drop them in one of those cute Royal Mail post boxes and imagine the smiles those postcards will generate.
How To Simplify Sending Postcards
If you want to send postcards on your next trip (and you really, really should!), you need to make it easy on yourself. The first and only step to making postcards easy is (drum roll, please)…
Print address labels.
Yup. It’s that easy. No hauling your address book with you. No having to scroll through your contacts to find the one you want. Just print a sheet of address labels and stick them on the postcards.
All you have to do is open up a blank labels document in Microsoft Word or whatever word processing program you use and type in those names and addresses. That’s it. (If you haven’t made a sheet of labels in Word, please see below for more detailed instructions.)
Pro tip: Print one set of labels, and then print the document again on plain paper. Keep the latter set separate from the labels. It’s a backup in case you misplace the labels, and it’s a place to keep notes. For example, beside the name of my aunt who’s an English teacher, I’ll note that I sent her a card from Tintern Abbey, the ruin that inspired Wordsworth to write a super long poem.
A Couple of Things to Consider
- Where are you going and who would appreciate a postcard from there? Tip: If you have a list for Christmas or birthday cards, start there. Looking over the list should help you avoid any embarrassing oversights.
- How much is international postage? It’s pricey, so budget accordingly. As of May 2016, the price for an international first-class stamp from the Royal Mail, the postal service of the United Kingdom, was £1.05, roughly $1.50. That’s not cheap. In fact, it’s considerably more than the USPS price for an international first-class stamp, which is $1.15.
- How much do you need to budget? Calculate now so that you’re prepared for the cost. Assume that you’ll spend about $1.00 for each postcard. There’s a good chance you’ll spend less per card–especially in more touristy locations where merchants are competing for your business–but I prefer to overestimate. So, if you have 20 intended recipients and you’re sending them postcards from the UK, here’s the math:
($1 x 20 for postcards) + ($1.50 x 20 for stamps) = postcard budget
$20 + $30 = $50
In the scheme of things, such as what you’ll spend simply getting to your destination, that’s not a lot of money, especially since it affords you and your little one the chance to connect with the folks you care about.
Making Labels in Microsoft Word
- Open a new document.
- Click the MAILINGS tab.
- Click LABELS.
- Choose a label size. I recommend the following: under Label Vendors, choose Office Depot. Then, under Product Number, choose Address 612-011. Click OK.
- In the ENVELOPES AND LABELS pop-up, choose NEW DOCUMENT. A document with dotted outlines for the labels will open.
- Type in the names and addresses.
- Save the document.
- Put as many label sheets as you need in the paper tray of your printer. (Some printers will require that you load the label page face down; others will require it face up.)
- Print the document.
- Print the document again on plain paper as a backup.
That’s it. Are you a postcard sender? Do you have any tips to streamline the process?