Whenever I travel, no matter how near or how far, I always pack a stationery kit with note cards and postage stamps. Friends and family love to receive handwritten notes from my adventures, and it’s also one of the easiest and most affordable ways to ship souvenirs all over the world. Postcard stamps cost just 48 cents, and regular Forever stamps cost 63 cents (these are both for domestic U.S. destinations only; Global Forever stamps cost $1.45).
If you’re not in the habit of sending mail, don’t write it off as too complicated just yet. Aside from matchbooks, coasters, and swizzle sticks swiped from restaurants and bars, postcards are the ultimate budget-friendly souvenir. You can usually find them for less than $1, or you could bring some generic ones with you from home. You can pick up stamps at your local post office or order them online before you travel, and you can also bring paper and envelopes with you, so all you need to do is find a mailbox (airports usually have them, too).
Of course, you can only use U.S. stamps when you’re writing from the U.S., so it’s hard to plan ahead and pack them with you if you’re traveling to another country. But if you know you’re going somewhere where a post office could be hard to find or tricky to navigate (if you don’t speak the local language, for instance), you can always try researching prices ahead of time and ordering local stamps from eBay or Etsy before you leave home.
Looking for something a little more colorful than traditional mail? Here are three more ways to send epic mail from your travels.
These origami letters called Pigeons are a fun, lightweight, and packable way to send mail from the road. Each sheet offers plenty of space for a short note and then folds up into itself, so you don’t need an envelope. Just seal it with the stamp, scribble the address on the front, and pop it in a mailbox. The company often comes out with fun new patterns.
If you’re more into photos than words, Recently might be for you. This app allows you to make a magazine from 25-150 photos on your iPhone, and it’s extremely simple to use. You just select the pictures you want, choose a color scheme, select how many photos you’d like on each page, and boom—you’ve got a magazine. You can’t move around the images, add text (except for on the title page and spine), or modify the design, but that simplicity is also what makes it really easy. Magazines start at $12.99 per copy with a monthly subscription.
Looking for something that carries the weight of a postcard but also has your face on it? The Postagram app from Sincerely allows you to make postcards with your vacation photos right from your phone. It costs $2 to send a card anywhere in the U.S., and $3 to send a card internationally. You don’t have to be in the U.S. to use the app, so this can also be a budget-friendly way to send postcards home if you’re traveling somewhere where international stamps are quite pricey. As long as you’re shipping to a U.S. address, it doesn’t matter if you’re making and ordering the card from outside the U.S.—it’s still $2.
Will you send postcards (or one of these alternatives) home from your travels this summer?