Send postcards to yourself: Keep track of your travels with this hack

Updated Oct 12 2015
carolinediezyn
By: "T"eresaCC BY 2.0
This is my mom's fantastic idea for tracking experiences while traveling. How many times have you promised to keep a travel journal only to return home with most of the pages left blank? If you're like me, that's happened a few times. On top of that, how do you go about displaying your travel souvenirs when you get home? Developing photos is nice, but are you going to label them to remember everything?

My mom's solution: Postcards to yourself.

Picture it:

You've just spent three hours at the Louvre. Find your favourite postcard in the gift shop and write down the inside joke you had with your friend, how good the chocolate croissant was (but so overpriced!), and about the cute audio guide guy. Slap a stamp on, address it to yourself back home, drop it off in the mail, and forget about it.

Do this whenever you go somewhere where you a) have a memorable or funny experience, and b) can find a cool post card. The key is to do it as you are experiencing that which you are writing about. It doesn't take long.

You won't believe some of the things you had forgotten until you read them on these cards. You know when you think, "that was the funniest/coolest/strangest experience, I'll remember that forever!" Well, sometimes when you're traveling, those experiences are so frequent that you can't remember them all. That's why it's great to write them down as they happen and send them to your future self.

Not sure what to write? It doesn't have to be long. This is just for yourself, after all; point form is fine.

Here are some prompts:

  • What were you doing right before you started to write? Where?
  • What's the significance of the picture on the card?
  • What's it sound like, smell like, or taste like where you are? (i.e. sound of street performers, smell of spices, taste of gelato that you're eating)
  • Who are you with?
  • What was your favourite thing about the place you just experienced?

When you get home, there may already be some cards waiting for you. You get to relive all the experiences you had while you were there. You remember the last time you held the card, where you were, what you were doing, who you were with. Cards keep arriving after you've been home for a while — like your trip never ended. It also lightens your load for souvenirs to bring back home — they're already in the mail!

If you're not into scrapbooking, but you like the idea of having a tangible collection of memories from your trip, arranging all of these postcards in a box or album is the easiest way to do this. Whenever you want you can read through them all in order and relive your trip from start to finish.

  1. This is brilliant. Buy some postcard stamps before you go (if you're traveling domestically) that way you don't have to deal with "derp, how do I mail this thing" on your vacation.

    • Or maybe even mail them after you get back, if you're traveling internationally. In some countries it's incredibly difficult to send anything in the post! I'm thinking of my time living in China here…. I still have postcards from that time I haven't even sent due to the difficulty of using the post office where I lived.

  2. I think we should all send more postcards, more frequently. Why did we, as a society, ever stop? Isn't it fun to get a little postcard in the mail? I inherited a post card collection from my great-grandmother, and I love it. So many of them were just to say, "I'll be there on Tuesday", or, "Lottie, why don't you write more?" They're great. And now I save all mine that I receive, in hopes that someday, someone will like them.

    • I send postcards to our sons from each trip. Learned that it meant something to them…when one son asked if we had sent a postcard from Peru…he had not received it yet….I said YES…it creates meaning in their lives [not out loud]
      I also have written them since they left for college or tech. school each week and still do it now.
      Do they bind the postcards…no…Ha….

  3. Awesome idea! Although I don't think I've ever sent a postcard from abroad that ever made it back to the US (even after double checking the postage and making sure it went in the right box). I used postcards as wedding thank-yous and at least 4 out of 20 of them never arrived (2 within the same city). Perhaps I've angered the postcard gods.

  4. I once sent postcards from the UK to France and they took 9 weeks!

    I love this hack, definitely using it on my next holiday – although my husband and I have been pretty good at filling in our travelling journal.

  5. Love this idea!! We are doing something similar with our guestbook for the wedding – and I think we'll continue it with our honeymoon! We bought postcards/postcard stamps for all of the guests, and hope they'll write their little memory of the wedding/advice/whatever and then we'll have my sister pop them in the mail over the next few months, so that we can get a little happy boost in the mail every now and again : ]

  6. I am planning on framing all of the post cards I acquire from my travels and hanging them on my wall as art. Fun and cheap!

  7. I totally do this! Maybe not as often as I could though.
    My husband and I did this on our honeymoon. But at the Vatican Museum they made us check our bag (I wasn't carrying a purse, we just had by husband's camelbak minus the water part to carry things) and my pen, which I ALWAYS carry was in it.
    The gift shop was before the bag return, so we ended up buying THE WORST pen (literally, it broke while we were writing our postcard and cost 4 euros!) from the gift shop too just to write and send our postcards. Only to find out there was another post office in St. Peter's square. Darn!

  8. My partner and I both buy a postcard on our holidays and then write our top ten favourite things about the holiday on them – it's so fun to compare what things we wrote that were the same and what was different.

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