What is snailmail?
It's basically old fashioned mail. You know, the kind with the stamps on it. Yes, that still exists. It's called snailmail because it's slow, especially if you write to people overseas. Basically you write each other letters and send each other small items (though that's optional). It's expensive if you have a lot of snailmail penpals, but it's a lot of fun too. Kinda like a hobby.
How do you start?
Well you start by finding a penpal! You can find people on sites like Interpals and Postcrossing. But I found mine on tumblr. I used this and this blog to post an ad and respond to ads. Basically what you do on both blogs is submit an advertisement where you introduce yourself and tell people what you're looking for in a penpal. You leave your email address or social media links and wait for people to respond! Or you can respond to other people's requests, if you'd like that. You can write people from your country, but I prefer to find people from other countries. It's just more fun to me!
What do you write?
Writing the starting letter is always a bit difficult, so i usually just introduce myself. I tell people what I study, what I like to do, what my interests are, and other things about myself. I then usually tell a little bit about the things that happened the past few days, or about to happen, and then slowly work towards the end of the letter. Your letter doesn't have to be long, but make sure the other person has something to reply to!
After the first letters have been exchanged it's kinda like a really long and slow whatsapp conversation. I always try not to contact my penpals through social media, because if I would talk to them every day there would be nothing to discuss in the letters. Because of the time that passes between you writing the letter and actually getting the reply, you'll have enough to talk about in your letter because usually all kinds of things happened during that time. If not, you can always just respond to what the other wrote and talk about that. Usually when I do so I find new things to talk about because the other's experiences remind me of similar experiences in the past.
Well writing a plain letter is kinda boring, isn't it? That's why I always decorate the envelope, use pretty writing paper, and add things to the letter. For example, as an ice breaker with new penpals I include a small list of questions. It could go from "what is your favourite colour" to "if it was normal to have the ears of an animal, which animal ears would you want?", just be creative!
Sometimes I include lists with songs I listen to, book or movie recommendations, drawings, or quotes I like. Often people (including me) send teabags or coins from their currency. Other things I've sent were a piece of my favourite candy, a dried leaf, and stickers. But I've received dried flowers, a cute badge, a small glass shell, and lots of other cool things!
A few more tips
- When sending a letter it's always a good idea to include your own address on the back of the envelope. This way it will get sent back to you if the mail was unable to deliver it.
- If you send coins, tape them to a small piece of cardboard. On multiple occasions I've received letters in which there was supposed to be a coin, but which was missing. There would be a small cut on the side of the envelope, big enough for the coin to fall through. If you tape the coin to a piece of cardboard they can't get it out. Usually they won't even notice there is a coin in it either.
- NEVER give information you aren't comfortable with giving. Especially not things that are involved with money or your bank account.
That was all! I hope it inspires some of you to start snailmailing, as it's become a very fun hobby of mine and I like to share it! If there's anyone wanting to be my penpal, just contact me!