“Travel the World” with Postcrossing

Are you looking for a way to communicate with people from all over the world? Want to get a taste – metaphorically – of different cultures, communities and countries? Do you want to share a little bit of your city with someone else who lives halfway around the world? Well, there’s a way, and I’m going to show you how, with a site called Postcrossing.

Postcrossing is a pretty simple idea. You sign up and receive addresses from people all over the world. You send them postcards – each marked with a unique ID to identify that specific card – and then you receive postcards from OTHER people. It’s a unique, affordable way share part of your world with the world while simultaneously getting a taste of other countries, all in your regular daily mail.

Here’s how to get started. First, I’d suggest going out and finding some postcards from your city. Try to find unique views or perspectives of the city, or even some historical postcards might be a neat idea. Buy a bunch – I’ve found it’s much easier to keep up with the project if you have postcards on hand, rather than having to go out and buy more each time you want to send one out. I also like to keep a book of international stamps on hand for the same reason.

Then, simply go to Postcrossing.com. Sign up, input your information and start requesting addresses. You can tweak your settings so you will or won’t send & receive cards from your country if you’d like to change that setting. You can request a certain number of addresses at a time – meaning you can only have a certain number of postcards traveling at any point. The more you send, the more you’ll be able to send out at one time.

Each postcard is assigned a unique ID number, which you’ll write on your postcard. When it reaches its destination, the person inputs the ID into Postcrossing’s website, and this will mark the card as ‘received.’ It’ll then provide information about how many miles the card traveled and how many days it took to get there. (In the same thought, when YOU receive a card, be sure to register it online so it’s marked as received!)

The biggest “uhhhh” reaction I’ve ever gotten to this is the concerns of giving your address out to seemingly random strangers around the world. While it may be a security concern for some – I’m not too worried about it. It may be a trust factor and if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t sign up with the site. An important thing to note is that there are no direct correspondences – so the people you’re sending postcards to will NOT be the same ones sending postcards to you. You can select an option to allow people to request direct swaps with you, but you can also disable that option.

All in all, I’ve been a member for over two years and I absolutely love this project. It’s unbelievable to receive postcards from all over the world, to see the stamps and handwriting and the look of the cards; how some are sent loose and some arrive in envelopes, some have just one stamp while others are marked with five. I love picking up a postcard and knowing how far it’s come. I’ve sent 28 postcards – far less than I could have so far – and received cards from a total distance of 124,475 miles. I’ve gotten cards from Poland, Russia, China, Netherlands, Ukraine, Germany, Australia, Russia, France, Taiwan, Finland, Belgium, Spain and Japan, and I think that’s just incredible. I keep all my received postcards in a photo album for safekeeping, and I look forward to diving back into this project and getting more into it as I go.

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