The Art of the Travel Email


Some of you may still put a pen to postcard out of tradition's sake. Others may miss the old ritual of stopping by a souvenir stand, spinning around the card carousel, and deciding between a monumental shot or comprehensive montage of a city.

On the receiving end, the connectivity that a material object carries from a faraway or foreign land couples with the sentimentality that its writer was thinking of you while away.

Nonetheless, nowadays, it cannot be denied that sending a travel email is far faster and easier.

Maybe you hold that postcards are archaic; maybe you believe that you cannot truly understand a place until you experience its post office. Either way, there is no reason why a travel letter submitted through cyberspace can't contain the same lyricism as its paper predecessor.

Keep It Simple

Writing a travel email eliminates the requirement of scrunching your script into the confines of the cardstock's small surface. On the other hand, the vastness of the digital plane can be overwhelming. If you have trouble scaling such a boundless expanse, remind yourself that you are writing an email—not a journal entry, not a memoir. The fact that you have enough blank space to exhaustively illustrate your entire itinerary does not mean that you need to do so.

Wax Worldly, but Be Mindful

It's great that world travel cultivates your outlook and enriches your lexicon beyond linguistic barriers. It's also great that the world wide web offers immediate translation services and accessible resources to aid the language learning process.

Useful as it is to practice your vocabulary through casual writing, realize that peppering a travel email with too many foreign terms may be off-putting to an unfamiliar recipient.

Want to mention that you ate a smažený sýr in Prague because "Czech breaded fried cheese" just doesn't do it justice? A brief explanation (perhaps in parentheses) might be beneficial. That way, you can prevent the reader from getting sidetracked by the said cuisine's Wikipedia page.

Pick a Special Picture

Email offers the ability of inserting your own digital photos as opposed to printed stock images. But rather than alluding or linking to a photo series posted on your social media accounts, consider embedding an unpublished shot into the email to make it more personalized.

Don't fret that your picture of Fisherman's Wharf isn't as picturesque as a professional's. Send it anyway. Even if the sky is overcast and the waterfront is teeming with tourists, your recipient will get a better sense of the site as you experienced it.

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Flikr/Marc Wathieu​

Write on Whim

By going inkless, we're liberated from the waste of space an error's cross out entails. But do the endless, untraceable editing amenities of virtual media actually infringe upon our ability to compose on impulse?

The ability is always there. A travel email isn't formal correspondence—approach it with some spontaneity. Avoid typing out lines with the notion that you will tinker them later; try to channel that state of whimsical writing that postcards inspire.

Tanya Silverman is a writer who transitioned to the travel email in 2010.