It wasn’t long ago that my dear sister was approaching her thirtieth birthday. A significant landmark in anyone’s life, Leigh wanted to mark the passage in some memorable way.
“I wish we could all take a trip…” she said, sadly knowing that due to imminent weddings, graduations, and individual budgets, it was not a possibility for any of us.
We felt a twinge of longing, both for quality time with each other and for the wonder and awe that travel can bring. This ache got my creative juices flowing.
“Maybe there is still a way we can do this…” I thought to myself. And I went home to sort out the endeavor.
A Virtual Travel Agent
At home, I opened my laptop, searched, planned, and placed a few simple orders. A couple days later, vintage postcards from around the world arrived on my doorstep.
I started with the postcard that doubled as a world map, and explained my plan in full on the back before sending it off in the mail. Leigh was ecstatic to get it. It wasn’t the same as celebrating in person, but it was unique, memorable, and something dreamed up just for her!
Every few days, a new postcard depicting a new location would arrive, and on the back I’d have written imaginary adventures that we experienced along the way. We “traveled” all through Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas, researching cultures, communities, architecture, arts, and history as we went.
We used Google, Instagram, and Pinterest to look up unique hotels, amazing foods, and unforgettable experiences all over the world.
The best part was that we could “stay” and experience each location for as long as our hearts desired.
Though we weren’t able to be in the same place, Leigh and I were still able to share a memorable experience that lasted the whole year (and then some… I bought a lot of postcards).
Traveling During Quarantine
Thanks to the coronavirus, these days, none of us are galavanting around the world. In fact, I could probably title a personal memoir about these last few weeks “Around the House for 80 Days.”
Yet, this memory with my sister is at the forefront of my mind. A simple scroll through anyone’s newsfeed would reveal the collective ache for companionship and different experiences, which is why I think a virtual “girls’ trip” is a fabulous solution for the boredom, stress, and loneliness with which everyone is afflicted.
While this virtual reality certainly doesn’t replace the “real thing,” it does provide a new and thoughtful endeavor to help bring us together and pass the time.
Step One: Pick Your Travel Buddy
…Or buddies. Figure out which lovely ladies with whom you want to share this experience.
To keep things simple, I kept our travels cozy, sharing the experience with Leigh only. However, you could easily include more people in the endeavor. It would simply require a few more logistics.
In my scenario, I curated the whole trip, imagined our adventures, and wrote everything to Leigh. She’d receive the postcards in the mail and then go online to follow the hashtags and search for the places I’d mentioned in our memoirs. Then, we would text or chat over the phone, collectively daydreaming about these places all over the world.
This process could easily be adapted to include more people. Write identical postcards to multiple friends. You could write about different experiences in the same city, send them to individuals in the group, and then have a Zoom meeting or group chat about the experiences as soon as everyone received their mail.
You could even split up the travel plans, assign one city to each friend, and have that person be in charge of purchasing the postcards and penning the adventures to everyone else.
Step 2: Check Your Budget
For most of us, finances are pretty tight at the moment. Though a virtual trip is far less expensive than a physical trip, paying for postcards and postage can still add up pretty fast!
Check your bank account, set your budget, and then peruse some websites for postcards of the places you’d like to visit. Seeing your budget will help you pick your destinations and number the amount of postcards you’ll need.
Step 3: Choose Your Destinations
Leigh and I traveled all over the world, but you can visit literally any place you’d like!
Choose one state, country, or continent. You can even choose a fun “themey” trip! Visit all the Marian Apparition sites, the Holy Land, or the churches that house incorruptible Saints and Eucharistic Miracles.
You could visit the Seven Wonders of the World, explore all the stops along the Orient Express, or hit all the famous landmarks of the United States, like the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Silos in Waco.
Your options are completely endless!
Step 4: Order the Necessities
First and foremost, don’t forget the stamps! If you don’t have any at home, don’t fret! Post Offices are still open, but you can also buy stamps on their website. In addition, most grocery stores sell stamps at their customer service counter. I recommend purchasing postcard stamps as they are fifteen cents cheaper per piece than the regular stamps. That amount can add up really quickly depending on the amount of mail you send!
Second, get yourself some postcards. There are lots of great options out there to utilize! Zazzle was the place where I purchased the majority of my postcards, but there are other great options on Etsy, Amazon, and even Ebay!
If you’ve got the extra time, and you’re also artsy, websites like Vistaprint and Canva will also allow you to design your own postcards!
Step 5: Research and Imagine
When your supplies arrive, the fun continues. For each postcard, research the city or landmark, read travel blogs, seek out what you find interesting, and imagine experiencing it in real time.
I found Instagram and Pinterest to be the most helpful in taking me to unique and beautiful places within very popular tourist destinations.
As you go through this process, write down your imaginings, address the postcards, and drop them in your mailbox.
Have fun with this! Do one every few days until you run out. Don’t feel like you have to write them all at once! Enjoy the process of researching and reading!
Step 6: Share the Experience
Don’t forget the whole point of this endeavor: to connect with one another from afar!
After your recipients have oogled through the beautiful and exciting scenarios you described for them, set up a time to get on the phone together. Have some wine, light a candle, and share what you loved about each place—the weather, the churches, the architecture—and get lost in the beauty of creation with your gal pal!
You may find yourself making plans to visit some of the places in person once the quarantine restrictions have been lifted!
Where would you visit on your postcard trip around the world?
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