It’s never been easier to stay in touch with your friends and family back home while you’re traveling or living abroad. Instagram, Twitter, and all the rest help keep people updated on what you’re up to, while messaging apps and video chat are always there for meaningful, one-on-one conversations.
There’s honestly no way I would have survived longer than one school year in Spain so far away from home had I not had so many accessible and affordable ways to keep in close contact with my parents, the rest of my family, and my friends from college. I salute those all who have bravely gone before me with only snail mail or expensive calling cards as their sole means of communication. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here furiously updating my Instagram.
Still, there’s something about travel that brings out the old-fashioned side of me. I try to dress up for the occasion whenever I catch a flight; I prefer the romance of civilized train travel over slow, nauseating buses; and I enjoy sending handwritten postcards across the ocean to relatives and friends back home.
In our day and age, it’s always exciting to open the mail box and see something other than junk mail, utility bills, or catalogs that leave you wondering how the heck they got your address in the first place. It’s a small gesture, but a hand-addressed greeting card or a short note on the back of a postcard means a lot to whoever gets the card. It shows that you sat down, took time out of your day, and pulled out a pen because you were thinking of them.
But the whole postcard process can often be a huge ordeal. You’ve got to pick just one out of the bajillion postcards hanging on stands at tourist gift shops—which one looks the least cheesy and sun-bleached?—then you’ve got to sit down and write it, next you’ve got to scour your phone’s address book because who has their acquaintance’s home addresses memorized anymore, and then you’ve got to either go to some random tobacco shop for stamps (really, Europe?) or wait in line during inconvenient business hours at the post office while they give you the evil eye for wasting their time on a single postcard.
Or maybe I’m just lazy.
Enter Inkly, a mobile app that lets you send attractive, printed greeting cards and postcards from your Android- or iOS-based cell phone.
I’ve used other apps in the past where you can put a photo you took with your cell phone on the back of the postcard and then type out a message to be printed on the front. My grandparents thought it was the coolest thing ever, but I always thought the text that was printed in a cheesy font made the whole experience cold and impersonal.
That’s why I was so impressed with Inkly, because they encourage you to first write out your message on a piece of paper in your own flowing cursive (or strained chicken-scratch). Then, once you take a photo of that handwritten message, they magically transform your handwriting into printed ink on a postcard or greeting card.
Although I’ve long since moved back home to Texas, I wish I had heard about this app when I was teaching English in Spain! I love how Inkly combines the convenience of sending a card from your phone with the personal touch of a hand-mailed and -stamped postcard.
The whole card-making process is done inside the mobile app, but it was really easy to use and there were hundreds of different designs to choose from for every kind of holiday or celebration imaginable. A greeting card costs £2.99/$3.99 and postcards run you £0.99/$1.49 a pop, which is about how much a card would run you at the Hallmark store or a tourist shop anyway.
Inkly’s printers spit out your cards in the UK, but their international shipping (which cost $0.99) was surprisingly agreeable and cost as much as it would to send something from Spain to America at the correos office. I placed an order on my phone last Wednesday and the card arrived at my parents’ house on Tuesday. Not too shabby! And the envelope got an exotic “Par Avion” Royal Mail sticker to boot. When my mom opened up the card, though, instead of some chunky sans-serif font, it was my very own handwriting that greeted her.
Full disclosure: Inkly’s PR rep, Megan, contacted me a few weeks back and gave me a promo code for one free greeting card, and I was excited to try out this new app in return for talking about it on the blog. Rest assured, what I’ve written here are my honest thoughts about what Inkly has to offer.