7 Places to Find Penpals and Get REAL Mail
Yeah, people still have penpals! There are whole online (ironically) communities dedicated to writing ol’ fashion letters through the mail. I’ve been doing it since I was 15. I still write to people I’ve known since I was a teenager, but have never met in person, and I’ve made lifelong friends through letters.
Finding letters and postcards in my mailbox is one of the things that makes me happiest in life.
Does that sound lovely? Would you like to try it out?
It might seem weird or difficult to find penpals in 2017, when genuine mail is so uncommon and the internet is just more convenient. (Sometimes I think penpallers are the only ones keeping the USPS afloat.) It’s not hard though! Thousands of people still appreciate “snail mail.”
Here are 7 places to find penpals:
Like pretty much everything else in existence, there’s a Facebook group for that! Many, actually. You just join, introduce yourself, and tell a little about what kind of penpal you are looking for (age, country, interests). Two of my favorites are Penpals for Life and Snail Mail Penpals (Ladies Only). I only write to women, and both of those groups are women-only groups.
People get up to all kinds of letter writing and mail art on Instagram. Try the #snailmail, #penpals, or #penpalswanted hashtags if you’re looking for someone to write to. Or post your own post requesting penpals with one of those #’s. After you connect with someone, send them a direct message to swap addresses.
Interpals is a website where you can find online and offline penpals (email or snail mail). You can also find language exchange partners if you want to practice a language. The downside to this website is that it’s flooded with guys looking to flirt. I just put a big “I AM MARRIED AND NOT LOOKING FOR ROMANCE” warning on my profile and that weeded most of them out.
I have met some fabulous penpals through the website, and the profiles are detailed, so it’s easy to find someone with similar interests. I also find it easier to find penpals from other countries on Interpals.
OK, this one is waaaay old school, and you need to find someone who still swaps them to get you started. A friendship book is a little booklet the size of a postcard or smaller, which you can start for yourself or someone else.
You write your address, interests, and other penpal info in it, then you send it to one of your penpals. They do the same. At the end it’s sent back to the person it was made for. You can read the entries and choose people to write to. Some people will also write if they swap things (friendship books, postcards, mail art, etc.). These aren’t as popular as they were when I was in high school, but they’re still really fun!
These are a dying breed. Even the magazine I got my first penpals from (in 2005…wow) is long gone. However, one or two remain. Anyone know which ones? Please share in the comments!
Most of the ones that come my way these days are photocopied zines created by other people who love to write letters. One of my penpals has one called The Monster Ducky Mail Art Club that you can receive for $5 per month.
Can’t find one? Start your own. Post about it on Instagram. Ask if your friends would like to be listed as looking for penpals in your zine.
Not strictly a penpal site. It’s actually for swapping postcards from around the world. You request an address, send a postcard to that person, then someone else gets your address at random and mails you a card. Happy mail days all around.
There are some forums on there where my might be able to find a penpal. Otherwise, just swap and let the pretty cards fill up your mailbox!
Swap Bot is another site for swapping things in the mail. I haven’t used it since I was in high school, but it’s still going strong! People swap all kinds of stuff on Swap Bot, from mail art and postcards to crafts, care packages, and recipes.
Sometimes they do penpal swaps where you exchange letters with a random person.
International Geek Girl Penpals Club
This is a club that is free to join. You request a penpal as often as once a month and they match you with someone with similar geeky interests, like RPGs, video games, stamp collecting, Doctor Who, super heroes and comics, etc. This club has been really fun for me!
A few words about penpalling…
Write the kinds of letters you want to receive. Some people like long letters, others prefer a quick note. Be clear what kind of penpal you’re looking for.
On IG you’ll see all kinds of beautiful variations on letters: flip books, pocket letters, mail art…don’t be intimidated. If you want to write on a legal pad and send it in a regular envelope, it’s fine. It’s the letter and the connection with a friend that matter. If the person you’re writing to only wants pretty mail or for you to send them stuff, they are missing the point of having a penpal.
Don’t get overwhelmed! Start with one or two penpals, then add from there when you see how much time you’ll have. Some people have one penpal. Some people have 50. It’s all about how much time you can dedicate to it, just like any other hobby.
Skeeved out about giving your address to strangers on the internet? Me too. I have tons of penpals who do, and not one of them has ever had something bad happen to them, but I still like to be cautious. If you’re worried about it, get a P.O. box. They’re not expensive. Mine costs $36 every six months.
Get a penpal and enjoy getting something thoughtful among the ads and bills!
Feel free to send me a letter or postcard too! I try to write back to everyone who sends me something.