When you’re on the road, it can be nice to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Conversely, your folks will be happier if they know that it’s easy to get in touch with you.

In the not-too-distant past, travellers used to rely on snail mail and overpriced phone calls back home – fortunately, technology has made it easier and cheaper than ever to keep in touch and most backpackers frequently visit Internet cafs to check their email as well use voicemail and mobile phones.

One of our mothers recently came across all the postcards sent home during our travels. It was a total trip to read them and all the memories came rushing back. There’s nothing like a postcard sent home from lands abroad, however… Your message can be short and sweet, it’s the thought that counts. Click here to get a postcard from us on the road…

It is pretty straight-forward to send mail. Postal services around the world are generally as efficient and reliable as you’d expect. Just take your letter to the post office and buy a stamp. Just like home. In some countries, such as France, you can buy your stamps from multilingual vending machines and avoid the queues at the post office. Receiving mail can be a bit more complex than sending it. Post offices in main cities or towns are the best places to do business, especially if you’re picking up mail.

The most popular way to receive mail on the road is thru Poste Restante. It is a worldwide system where you can have mail sent to a specified post office for collection. Most post offices will hold mail for up to a month, allowing people at home to send you mail as you travel. It’s best to use the main post office in a capital city or main town. Letters sent via Poste Restante should be clearly marked with your last name in block letters and underlined:

c/o Poste Restante
Main Post Office
Paris 75008

If you have an American Express card or American Express traveller checks you can have mail sent to an American Express office along your route. Alternatively, you can have mail addressed to the hostel in which you’re staying, although not all hostels provide this service and it’s not always a good idea to have valuables sent to you as many places place all guest mail in a box for anyone to look through.