Awhile back I had a post about “tuck-ins” – items you can enclose or tuck-in the envelope along with your letter. A tuck-in can help bring a letter to life, show that you care, or just keep things interesting. More here.
For those in the US, stopping in a state visitor center when you drive into that state on the highway can be a great source of free pamphlets that could interest your pen pals. Recently I did some travel in and out of my own state several times, and stopped at both the North and South Carolina visitor centers.
I have experienced that some pen pals assume that you know all about their area. They will mention a place or event they visited/attended with little word of explanation. But outside of your area, others may not be aware of popular local parks, historical sites, typical nature, or events. What is “normal” to you may not be normal to your pen friend. The ordinary could be extraordinary to them.
Last summer I had university students from Arizona and California live with me, and they found South Carolina landscape and nature (and weather) very different. A student that lived with me from Australia years ago was fascinated by and took dozens of photos of… squirrels. She had never seen a squirrel. (Of interest, besides writing pen pals, I’ve also had students from around the US and world live with me.)
But back to the state visitor centers…Here are pamphlets I picked up in the SC center:
To highlight one…The birding pamphlet is really light weight paper, will easily fold (if you need to fold it, to make it fit in a smaller envelope), and should definitely not make your letter need extra postage. When you open this pamphlet, it has many photos of birds that can be seen on Hilton Head Island, SC. Even if a pen friend is not a bird enthusiast, they would likely enjoy it. Different parts of the US and world have different birds.
While in the SC visitor center, the employee asked if I needed assistance. I was in a chatty mood and explained that I lived in SC but was getting some pamphlets to send to pen pals. I mentioned my old-fashioned hobby of postal letter writing and that I correspond with people all over the US and world. The employee then asked if I’d like some free postcards! She brought out a container that was back behind the counter and told me to pick some out. Apparently these are not kept out in the open for everyone, but made available for certain people/situations – like me I guess! Here are the postcards I chose, which show waterfalls and state park areas.
By the way, I photographed the postcards on top of my lap desk. It is a quality and comfortable lap desk, which I use to write letters while sitting in a chair. I bought it many years ago, and whenever I come upon a lap desk since then it never matches the quality of mine.
I also rarely send postcards as direct mail, but use them as an enclosure with a letter. Except when I am traveling – When I am on a vacation I do mail actual postcards. See this post for photos of me mailing postcards around the world. However, I always return with extra postcards that I tuck-in with future letters.
Keep your eyes open for interesting items to enclose with your pen pal letters!