Back when I was a college student in the 70’s, traveling the world, I was rarely in touch with my family and friends. To talk on the phone, we had to schedule a time and I had to call collect. Even then it was very expensive and everyone talked fast so as not to rack up too big of a phone bill. Then there were those kiosks that charged a premium to be able to call overseas. It was a hassle.
So, most of the communication at that time with the family was by letter. That’s right, pen, light paper or aerogram*, and an “airmail” envelope and stamps. Written words! Friends got post cards. I always shopped long and hard to find post cards that most exemplified the destination. Some had multiple pictures, and some just some really beautiful view that I had actually seen. I also purchased postcards for myself at each destination so that, in case photos didn’t come out well, I’d still have pictures. The post cards went into the album with the photos.
Communication has changed dramatically for the traveler. How many actually write letters? Send Post cards? These days your every move can be documented for all to see in real time, at little to no cost. Between Facebook, online photo albums and blogs, all that’s needed is some free WiFi and a computer or Smart Phone, and you can communicate with the world. You never have to pick up a pen. And photos? If it didn’t come out well, just take another and another until you have the shot you want.
But what of the lost art of letters and postcards? Recently I went through some boxes of “memories” and found several letters and post cards I’d sent home during that college year. I spent hours reading them and reliving the fun times. It was wonderful. Now if I want to look back on a recent trip, there is not much to see except the digital photos, but with time I will forget where I was and all the little nuances that are not in the short caption.
Email letters can be printed and kept, but consider a post card or two as you travel—maybe even sent to your own address. What a wonderful way to remember your trip in years to come.
*The US Postal Service stopped printing aerograms in 2006.