2017-01-06 / Columns

Go old-school and send a postcard

Flying Squirrel
Thor Challgren

VACATION SPLENDOR— Even socially minded leaders use social media to share pictures of their don’t-you-wish-you-were-me travels. Consider, instead, the old-fashioned way: send a postcard. THOR CHALLGREN/Acorn Newspapers VACATION SPLENDOR— Even socially minded leaders use social media to share pictures of their don’t-you-wish-you-were-me travels. Consider, instead, the old-fashioned way: send a postcard. THOR CHALLGREN/Acorn Newspapers We’re several days into the new year, and I have a question for you.

How many resolutions do you still have?

When it comes to travel, many people start the year with an obvious one. See more, do more, visit new places, try new things. Be more adventurous, more curious.

Those are all good resolutions. Maybe you’re already planning a trip to a place you’ve never been. If so, you can check the box on that particular resolution.

Let’s say you’re on that trip and you see an amazing sight. A rainbow, a castle, a sunset, an iconic location. What do you do? You take out your phone and snap a picture, right?

Then, if you’re like most travelers with access to cellular service or Wi-Fi, you share that photo with others, your friends.

And, of course, by “friends” I mean your followers on social media.

So, like a billion other users worldwide, you open up Facebook, Instagram (500 million worldwide users) or Snapchat (100 million). And then you proceed to “share” your experience.

A facet of that “sharing” has come under scrutiny in recent years. It’s been suggested that when we post our vacation or travel pictures, what we’re actually doing is saying to our friends, “Look at my incredible life! Am I not amazing?”

I’m not saying you do that. Just, well, some other people might be doing that.

The effect this can have, critics caution, is that when I see pictures of your hike along Italy’s famed Cinque Terre; your Northern Lights dogsled ride; your epicurean, Michelin-rated bacchanal; or your endangered-penguin encounter in Patagonia—when I see those pictures, it can make me feel inadequate about my own life.

Not unlike the notion of young girls who see Photoshopped supermodels in the magazines and then feel bad because they can’t attain that standard of beauty, all of our collective travel photo sharing can create the impression that everyone in the world is having the most amazing time on vacation and I’m a loser because I’m on staycation at the Motel 6 in Brawley, Calif.

I confess I may have, on occasion, shared a picture or two on Facebook. And not just random shots of nothing in particular. I’m talking about true, OMG!-look-at-that-double-rainbow type shots. And, of course, it’s also nice to get lots of “likes” for those shots.

But one of my resolutions for 2017 is to connect with people more authentically in my travels. To that end, I’m going old school. I’m going to send actual postcards.

My intention is that if I send a real postcard, I’m focused not on hundreds of social media friends but on one particular person: the card recipient. The thoughts I share in the card are more personal. I’m thinking only of them.

There are several ways you can send postcards, which, by the way, date back to 1869 in Austria.

There’s the old-fashioned way—selecting and buying a card (“Greetings from Waikiki!”), writing a message, affixing a stamp and dropping it in the mailbox.

If you like this approach, consider packing a preprinted sheet of labels with the addresses of your card recipients. It will be simpler than looking up 20 contacts or determining on your trip who those recipients should be.

Another approach to this time-honored tradition is to use a smartphone app that allows you to snap your own pictures, with the resulting card printed, stamped and mailed, all with digital ease.

Apps like Touchnote, Postify and Postagram offer cards from $1.49 to $1.99, with the printing and postage included in that cost. You can still write your own message of 300 to 500 characters or so, and, in most cases, your card will be received three to five days after you hit “send.” Talk about airmail!

So if you have travel plans in 2017, even if it’s just a day trip or a weekend away, consider using postcards to stay in touch.

Yes, you can still share that amazing shot on Facebook. But consider sending the same photo in a more personal greeting, one that decades worth of travelers can endorse: Send a postcard.

Thor Challgren is a travel consultant who lives in Thousand Oaks. For more info and resources on this story, visit www.loveyourvacation.com/acorn. Email questions to thor@theacorn.com.

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