Has the humble postcard met its match?

Let’s face it, everyone loves receiving a postcard. Whether it’s a ‘wish you were here’ card with sun-kissed beaches and palm trees or a bikini-clad babe, we all get a little bit excited when one lands on the doorstep. But is this digital age threating to oust this 140 year old tradition?

O2 Travel conducted a survey and concluded that 45% of the people asked had never sent a postcard and only 16% would on their travels. The recent surge in the popularity of smartphones could be blamed for this indicated decline in postcard traffic. There has been a constant increase in internet usage while abroad with half of travellers actively updating their social media profiles while on the road. Moreover, 71% of those surveyed sent texts to family and friends as a means of staying in touch.


However, the postcard hasn’t quite hit the downward spiral to extinction just yet. Over half of us still prefer to send postcard because it’s “an important part of British culture,” and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) have estimated that us Brits will send 130 million postcards this summer. Why? Postcards are a great souvenir of someone’s travels which can be treasured and it’s so much more personal than a quick email or text to let the folks know you’re still alive.

The recent postcrossing phenomenon has further increased the popularity of the postcard. Set up in 2005 by Paolo Magalhães, postcrossing allows members to send and receive postcards from all over the world. So far, 13,053,709 postcards have been sent between people from almost every country in the world, and right this minute, over 300,000 are in transit. In total they have travelled over 69 billion kilometres (the equivalent to 231 return trips to the sun). Clearly, the postcard is as popular as ever.

Although, the traditional piece of card is not the only material used as a postcard. Almost 3,000 ‘coconut postcards’ are sent every year from Hawaii, costing the average traveller $10 a pop. Other items which have been sent include pumpkins, flip flops and the odd bit of stray driftwood works pretty well too. A little bit different to the average postcard, but inventive nonetheless!


Whether it’s a picture of the local scenery or as bizarre an object as one can get away with sending, postcards in whatever form are still hanging on in there. The digital age may be making it easier and quicker to communicate with friends and family back home, but the humble postcard has by no means been replaced. Carefully selected postcards with personal messages are still going strong despite the expansion in digital interaction. Let’s hope this trend continues because let’s be honest, there’s no better feeling than finding a postcard in that pile of bills and junk mail.

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