Ode to The Postcard (And Other Souvenirs)

Sept 18, 2020

Interviews & Inspiration | Lauranne Heres

When I was young, it was a given that if anyone you knew went away, you would receive a postcard from them. It would probably arrive long after they’d returned, depending on how far they’d gone, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that you got to see where they went.

Before people started posting everything online (including me), you’d either have to wait for their holiday snaps to be developed, and then have to sit through hours of descriptions for each one, or you would be invited to watch their home movie.

As the internet grew in popularity, postcards lost their appeal. Why bother writing an awkward message which will take ages to reach your loved ones, when you could just post a picture with a couple of hashtags? Has this tradition from the Victorian times seen its last days? If we talk numbers, postcard sales have rapidly declined in the last few years. Where 20 million used to be sold just a few decades ago, this has now shrunk to less than 5 million.

Where countries and businesses used to bank on postcards as part of their tourism industry, they have now had to get more creative (think all those “instagrammable” signs in famous cities around the world) in order to appeal to younger and more connected guests.

Personally, I’ve continued to buy and send postcards. The main recipients have been my grandmothers, as they’re not at all connected. This way they got to follow my travels around the world. Whenever I go on a multi-destination trip, I always buy a postcard in every country/city then send the lot in a big envelope, numbering them and writing about the best bits.

I also bought my Spanish grandmother a souvenir thimble everywhere I went. When she passed last year, her large collection went to a friend who was also a fan of thimbles, and I actually took back a lot of the postcards I’d sent her throughout her life.

When we moved into our last flat, we inherited a very large IKEA PAX wardrobe with an ugly beige door. I’ve always had postcards and pictures up on my walls everywhere I’ve lived (you should have seen my room during my Britney phase, followed by my Blue phase…) so after a few weeks I just started sticking cards on the door with blu-tack. By the end, the wardrobe was covered almost top to bottom in postcards sent by friends, family, and those we picked up ourselves.

And let’s not forget fridge magnets, another one of my favourite holiday buys. While we usually agree on a design, we sometimes end up with two magnets for the same place. But we’ve had two fridges for the past few years, allowing for an expanding collection, and I hope to one day own an American style fridge which would allow for all the magnets I could dream of!

As soon as I can get back out into the world, I will continue to support the postcard industry. I will roam small stalls and tiny shops until I find the perfect picture that shows off where I’ve been. I will spend ages searching for a present to bring back to a loved one. I’ll rack my brain for an inspiring message to put on my card and support the local post office by getting a stamp.

Next time you’re on holiday, don’t walk past the postcard displays. Stop and look at the pretty pictures. Pick the one that speaks to you and then send it to someone you love. Whatever their age, I can guarantee it’ll put a smile on their face.