World Postcard Day is this Friday- October 1. To celebrate we thought it would be fun to share some aviation-themed postcards and talk about Postcrossing, our newest travel activity turned obsession. Stick through to the end because we’re also offering to share a piece of our postcard collection with commenters.
Postcards are overdue for a resurgence
As a so-called millennial (though, admittedly, an early one) I grew up right in the middle of the digital revolution. Email gained popularity when I was a child and as such was always an option for me. While digital communication essentially eliminated my need for communication by mail, postcards were the clear exception. There’s something special about the personal touch, effort and logistics required to get a postcard delivered to someone’s mailbox. The thought of an unexpected postcard surprise bringing a smile to the recipient’s face is pretty darn cool.
I have felt the calling to send postcards to friends and family while traveling ever since I was a child. During pandemic lock down I finally had the opportunity to examine several large postcard collections I acquired from estate sales. My drive to send postcards while on holiday, I learned, was shared by travelers over a hundred years before me. Sending postcards while away is fun. So in today’s digital world where society is oddly fascinated with retro and throwbacks, I’d propose the postcard hobby is due for a rebirth.
Before I dive deep into my “postcard evangelism” let me ask you a few questions. Are you sitting on a cache of stamps you don’t know what to do with? Perhaps you bought a bunch in 2020 to save the USPS? Or maybe you fell for a charismatic Costco cashier’s 100-stamp sales pitch? Are you a traveler? (Of course you are, you’re reading Airline Reporter!) Well then, join us for a discussion on reviving the 150-year old science of Deltiology and how sites like Postcrossing.com can help.
A collection of antique aviation-related stamps on a postcard received recently from Pittsburgh, PA.
A primer on Postcrossing
Postcrossing is a free service where users receive a postcard for each one they send. Once a sent postcard is received and registered, someone else sends one your way. It’s that simple. Upon matching with another user a browse of their profile will offer insights into what they are looking for. My profile which I share with my AvGeek wife expresses an interest in aviation-related items and offers some writing prompts. For obvious reasons we can’t always send folks exactly what they are looking for. However, profiles frequently feature lists of themes of particular interest: The color blue, sunsets, reptiles, something related to Odessa, etc. We get a kick out of trying to find postcards (and recently stamps) that tick off at least one of the asks of our postcard matches.
Related: Air Mail Arrows and Beacons Across America Link to the Industry’s Infancy
Travel goal: Find postcards
We use Postcrossing to augment our travel experiences but travel is certainly not required. Our ongoing goal of finding places which sell postcards adds an extra layer of purpose to our travels. While postcards are not as readily available as they once were, they can typically be found at places one might want to visit while playing tourist anyway. Areas of cultural interest such as National Parks, botanical gardens, museums and zoos are sure to have an assortment of postcards. In the event our travels don’t have time for such excursions, we’re typically able to pick up an assortment at independent gift shops or even airport newsstands. We have found that having a mission helps to add some structure to our travels and sometimes takes us to venues we otherwise might have missed.
A postcard from 1976 shows an image of our Kansas City International Airport as it looked just six years after opening. The control tower has since been replaced. Photos: JL Johnson
Travel through others
Postcrossing doesn’t require travel, assuming you have access to a supply of postcards. Consider for a moment a home-bound retiree matching with a teacher who set up an account for their elementary class to gain a more worldly perspective. In both cases they are able to share scenes and perspectives from their corner of the world without going anywhere. That’s the magic of postcards. While a key purpose of travel is to learn and grow through greater cultural awareness, we’d suggest the same can be achieved through exchange of postcards with Postcrossing’s international community. Over 75% of our Postcrossing activity thus far has been with those overseas.
Final thoughts, and a giveaway
It’s fun when passions collide and we’ve had a postcard story in mind for a long time now. Our experience with Postcrossing has been positive. This isn’t an ad, just an endorsement from a postcard-obsessed travel geek. If exploring through the eyes of others is something of interest we suggest giving Postcrossing a try.
Now, let’s hear from you: Tell us about your postcard memories or if we’ve talked you into trying out Postcrossing. In honor of World Postcard Day we will even sweeten the deal. I’ll send an AvGeek-friendly postcard to up to five random commenters. Be sure to use a valid email address in the comment form so that if you are selected I can reach out to ask for a physical address. Readers from outside of the US are welcome and eligible for a postcard too. Happy travels!