Please sign in to post.

sending postcards

I’d like to try to mail my grandmother some postcards from Scotland this trip as she’s recently had to move into a home and I think she’d enjoy the mail each day. I found an archived post that talks about this in some detail.

It sounds like airmail is the fastest option to get them to her. Do I have to buy stamps at a certain authorized place or can I get them anywhere I buy my postcards? And where do I drop them in the mail? Would it be ok to just give them to my hotel each day?

Feels funny asking about such a basic thing like postcards but I seriously never send them :)

Posted by
19215 posts

Update: A lot of the information in this post is wrong. Ignore me! Pay attention to what the UK folks have said in their posts

Not speaking of Scotland in particular, but fairly often places that sell postcards also sell stamps. You need to be sure you are buying stamps for airmail to the US. Stamps to mail postcards to Europe would probably be cheaper. Airmail is a good idea; if surface mail is even still an option, it might take a very long time indeed. If the postcard sellers don't sell stamps, they should be able to tell you the location of a nearby post office where you can buy some.

Many hotels will accept outgoing mail and hand it to the postman for you when he/she delivers that day's mail. If not, you can drop the cards in a postbox (they used to be red) or in a slot at a post office. You'll see them if you remember to look for them.

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, Julie,

Postcards from Scotland to the U.S. currently cost one pound 35 pence. Best thing to do is to get a bunch of stamps at a post office soon after you arrive, and carry them with you in something waterproof. Just about every town and village has a post office of some sort, although the government has been closing a lot of the smaller ones recently due to budgetary cutbacks. A lot of the post offices in smaller places are in a shop (usually a grocery shop).

I haven't been since last year, but the post offices used to have small adhesive air mail stickers. If they still have those, a sheet of them would be useful to take along so that you could attach one to each postcard.

As acraven advised, you can leave the completed postcard at your hotel desk, or you can ask for the location of the nearest postbox or pillar box. Some of them (postboxes, not hotels!) in outlying locations are built in to a wall, and are not readily visible. Most of the postboxes have a sliding metal token which indicates whether the mail has been picked up that day. The postie changes the token after he or she picks up the mail, indicating the time of the next pickup.

It's very kind of you to take time out of each day to send a postcard to your gran. I'm sure that she will greatly appreciate it.

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
520 posts

Hi Julie

You will need, as Mike suggests, the correct stamps for Airmail to the States. You will need to get these from a post office. Just tell them you want a bunch of stamps to airmail postcards to the States. They shouldn't need the actual cards to weigh etc. Other shops sell what we call first and second class stamps for letters within the UK but the price for a card to the States will be more.

The airmail stickers are handy but if you can't get them, then just write AIR MAIL clearly next to the stamp and it will be fine.

Post boxes are red and they are plentiful even in remote locations. I live in a very remote spot and there is one within 1/2 mile of my house.

Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
4537 posts

Attractions often will offer stamps alongside postcards. However, these are not necessarily those of the Royal Mail, and the experience of people here with these has been variable to say the least.

Posted by
652 posts

Marco what other stamps other than Royal Mail are available in the UK? Never heard of that before and am interested?

Posted by
6742 posts

Julie - what Mike and Marco have said. Buy your stamps at an official post office, not at an attraction or shop.

Caro— there is a whole thread from a year or two ago talking about these other stamps and the difficulty of actually getting things delivered when they have them. It was quite an eye-opener. I am sure that is the post that Julie linked to in her original question above.

Posted by
652 posts

We have a gold postbox here too, in Sark, tiny island 700 people, but a world class show jumper!

Posted by
168 posts

You have received a lot of good advice so far and FWIW here is mine.........

Do not purchase stamps from a company called Universal Mail. The following website will tell you more about them so that you know what to look out for. UM stamps are sold in outlets such as Visit Scotland Tourist Information Centres and unless you want to experience a very long wait for the cards to be delivered, are to be avoided at all costs.

www.universalmail.co.uk

Buying Royal Mail stamps beforehand from a post office shop or post office counter in a Co-Op supermarket is a good idea. Then all you have to do is buy postcards as you travel around.

A link at the bottom of this website page will help you locate Co-Op stores if you need to do so

www.co-operative.coop

Royal Mail stamps are the stamps to use. The Queen's head in silhouette form will be on them and if you do not see this, then you have the wrong stamps. Universal Mail stamps will not have this mark on them.

Posted by
26088 posts

yes it is legal. No it doesn't work very well.

Look at the post office website https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder to become familiar with the red oval logo which you will find on signs indicating a post office, and to find the nearest one near you. Most are not main post offices, they are mostly subs, usually a counter in a shop. If they display the logo they are the real deal.

Post the cards into a proper pillar box - see the article at wikipedia about them for images and a good story, lots of people collect pillar boxes and using them is an iconic British experience - at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillar_box

If you leave the cards with somebody they have to do for you what you could have done, and just giving the outgoing mail to a postie delivering mail isn't done - at least not around my neck of the woods - because the delivery office and the sorting office are in different places or at least different departments.

The idea of leaving outgoing mail in the RFD box simply doesn't exist.

Most (all??) British stamps now are self-adhesive - no more licking.

The little metal token indicating the next collection is, unfortunately, also a relic of the past. You'll find an empty slot where it should have been.

Things change, and when privatised they change faster and more.

Posted by
4537 posts

If you have to, you could two First Class stamps, which are more widely sold than just in Post Offices. This would be £1.40 which is just a little more expensive.

Posted by
4955 posts

I hate giving money to Silicon Valley dudes, but I save time in line and money with a “physical postcard” phone app. I take a selfie that is printed and mailed in the US the next day or so, with typed text written by me. Several to choose from. I like Touch Note.

Edit: Originally, I chose Touch Note because I had an older Iphone, and I needed an app that would run under an older version of IOS. I have a newer phone now, so that doesn't matter anymore. I don't like paying in advance for something of use in the future (remember Lifetime VCR Rental memberships?) But I have spent too much time standing in a long line at post offices, wondering how much English the clerk will speak, and whether they will give me really the right stamps for airmail to the USA. Then you have to find a reliable mail drop box, or locate and hike to another post office after you write the cards.

Of course, there's a learning curve. For example, if you type too much text, I think Touch Note switches automatically to one size smaller font. Another issue is whether any App's card-credits might expire. But I've used Touch Note for several years now. (I have no connection with that company.)

Posted by
101 posts

I heartily second Tim's recommendation for TouchNote. I have used it for several years.

You download the app on your phone or tablet, buy credits (at their most expensive, $2.79 but can be as low as $1.89 if you buy in bulk). - a postcard costs 1 credit and arrives in 3-6 working days. The quality is great, and my recipients (until a few years ago, primarily my grandmother, and now primarily my mother) really appreciate "seeing what I see". On occasion, I will send a commercial postcard if there is something that I really want someone to see but am not allowed to take photos of, but I bet that's been fewer than a half dozen times in the past 5+ years - it always takes much longer than my cards to arrive, and it just feels weird to show something perfectly composed and photographed since you actually can't see it that way yourself. Unless, of course, you're a very skilled photographer and then you're recipients are really lucky :-)

Posted by
596 posts

Thank you all very much for the great and thorough advice! I may use a combination of handwritten and digital. I think she’d enjoy seeing us in the postcard, too. This is wonderful.

Posted by
6742 posts

Ok I am an old-fashioned postcard kind of girl, but I am going to check out this Touch Note after these two recommendations!

Posted by
3318 posts

When I mail postcards back to the states, they generally arrive in 2-3 weeks. A stamp from the UK costs about £1.5. I don’t recall the exact amount. I buy them from the post office and get all that I will need during the trip, in the same visit.

Posted by
652 posts

Interesting, a pc from Guernsey to ROW is only 90p....

Posted by
6742 posts

It looks like TouchNote might have changed its pay scheme recently, seems like there are a lot of people unhappy with the changes. I am still looking at apps/options.

Posted by
101 posts

I'm not clear on what has changed. When I look at it, it's still a package of credits (the more you buy, the less per card) and, even at it's most expensive, it's roughly comparable to the cost of a traditional postcard + international postage, and gets there faster.

Posted by
1970 posts

I love TouchNote, it works beautifully for me. I sent cards from Turkey, Israel, France and Amsterdam in 2018 and 2019 - all cards arrived within the 3-5 days they advertise. My friends and family love them, too!
I used to mail traditional postcards which take time finding nice cards as well as the correct postal stamps. I had no problem asking the hotel to mail.

In 2017, I bought cards and stamps from a vendor in a gift shop on the street in London. The cards took over 6 weeks to arrive, some never appeared. Turns out the stamps were not the official Royal Mail stamps. A friend told me about TouchNote and I haven't looked back. To me, it's more personal when you send a photo you took, to your loved ones.
So, yes, the TouchNote app saves me time and money plus it allows me to send photos I have taken. I still buy traditional cards with scenery that I can't replicate, for my own pleasure.