Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson


Smart travel tips • August 2017

The Club's guide to the art of postcard writing

In a world full of legs-on-lounger selfies and disappearing snaps, The Club thinks the time has come to pick up a pen to those back home. Postcard from the Past author Tom Jackson makes the case for resurrecting the lost art form in 2017 and shares six insider tips to make your postcards memorable

01 Keep it personal

Keep it personal

The joy of a postcard is that it’s a direct communication between the sender and the recipient. So try to avoid clichés and think about what they would like to read. Tailor your message to their interests and avoid tedious lists of places you’ve visited. Oh, and as one who has squinted at cards with spidery, crabbed writing, please, please make sure your handwriting is legible.

02 Don’t labour the weather

Don’t labour the weather

No one really wants to hear the precise shade of suntan you’re achieving or hoping to achieve. If the weather is great, don’t rub it in (“Ronnie and I caught too much of the sun”), and if the weather’s poor they may not want to read your complaints (“Well it rained and rained and rained”). But if it’s really exceptional, then it may be permissible: “Since yesterday, a hurricane has been raging and spoiling everything.”

03 Tell us a story

Tell a story

It doesn’t matter how simple or how involved, a good story is what everyone wants to read. If it’s funny or odd, so much the better: “The best part was when Mum got stuck in the toilet”; “My sandals broke in Yugoslavia”; or simply, “Jean couldn’t get her trousers on.” Precise detail can make a message compelling, as on a card in my collection from Combe Martin in Devon, which reads, “No tea cosies in our guest house at all.”

04 Keep it brief

Short and sweet

Sometimes the briefest message is the most powerful.  On my Twitter feed, I post postcards with just a short excerpt from the message on the back. This can work to your advantage too – if you’re daunted by the prospect of penning a great screed on the back of your postcard, why not limit yourself to a few well-chosen words for a memorable or to-the-point message? Something like, “Only the birds for company” or “Dad says he is glad everything is alright.” Or even, “Bring coat hangers.”

05 Don’t give the game away

Don’t give the game away

Remember, postcards are personal but they aren’t private. The sorting office can read it, the postman can read it and anyone else in the recipient’s house can read it. One card I saw read: “I’ve got to have a private chinwag when I get home. Please, no word to Martin. Yes, you’ve guessed. I’ve been a naughty girl. Please – hush, hush.” So be careful, trusting your secrets to a postcard may not be very wise.

06 Make it fun

Make it fun

Don’t forget that writing a postcard should be an enjoyable experience, offering the recipient a window to your holiday world, and sending it shouldn’t feel like a bind. To save you trawling the shops for stamps and finding a postbox, most hotel concierges will arrange postage for you. If you want to make it even more personal, and can’t curb your digital cravings, try an app such as TouchNote (free, iOS and Android), which allows you to upload a photo and message, and they’ll generate, print and send the postcard for you.

Postcard From The Past
(£9.99, 4th Estate) by Tom Jackson is out now

This article has been tagged Opinion, Travel Tips