Trades and Travel: Best Practices

Hi - I’m fairly new to Postcrossing and have a question about Trades/Swaps while travelling. I’ll be going to a couple of fairly obscure countries (one does not show up in the Postal Monitor, for example) and will definitely set my account to Travel Mode while there, but at best I’ll only be able to send 5 or 6 cards, assuming I’ve earned enough cards to send by then (i.e. my current sent cards arrive in time to free up some space for new ones to be sent).

As such, I’d like to set up some trades with other members in advance, partly because I know people will be interested, but also because I’m not sure how good the wifi will be when I’m there (from what I understand, it’s pretty limited and slow at the best of times).

So what I’d like to know is, is it okay to ask people in advance to set up a trade, if they are interested in cards from this country? Is it better to do a lottery?

I’d like to see what interesting cards people could swap in return, which I think is okay, and ideally they could send their cards first. However my concern is this - what if, once I’m in the country, I find that there are no postcards available and/or they don’t send mail to the countries with the people I’ve agreed to swap with? Should I offer a backup plan in case, or wait and see if people will honour the trade after they’ve received my card, or…something else?

Compared to other forums I’ve been a part of, there seems to be a lot of unspoken rules about what is and is not acceptable, and this is not an easy site to navigate since so many posts get folded into massive larger ones which makes it hard to find specific information. I just want to make sure I’m doing things the right way. Or, if it’s too complicated, to stick to Travel Mode and leave it at that.

In any event, I’d really appreciate your suggestions about the best way to go about this.


I do that. I have gone on a couple trips. I ended up sending about 100 cards in Cambodia but I was unsure how to limit my trades then. Now I am a little more picky


A “back up plan” is a good idea, in case snailmail is difficult/impossible to send where you are going and tell the people you’d like to swap with about it and see if they are okay with it.

Other than that you can hopefully make some people very happy with an official card from an - as it seems - rare country, if they realize what treasure they are getting! :slightly_smiling_face:


Some thoughts:

Yes, it’s perfectly okay to do a in advance trade - put it in the first post that you are travelling at X date and as a result, you can only send out after X

Ask for photo proof with your trade recipients

Backup plan could be to send the card when you’re back home - or ask someone to help forward your mail

Just my opinion: Swaps might be a tad better in your case since you don’t have to worry about slots


Any advice for limiting trades?

(I just came back from Cambodia myself not too long ago, my fourth trip there, and it’s the first time I didn’t send any postcards back to myself! I just didn’t like what was available there, until I found some at the airport but of course by then it was too late).

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What’s the difference between a trade and a swap?

Not any difference in the Forum Postcrossing. That’s was also my question when I started. I have noticed that people here are using the word swap.


In the Postcrossing context I don’t think there’s a difference

In the word context, trade seems to involve buying and selling (currency exchange) while swap is more of a barter

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What I do is:

I set up swaps in advance. I ask the sender to wait sending their cards until I can show a written and stamped phito proof. That way I know the sender will only send their card when I know I can send my card.

That worked very well for me


Thanks - that’s really helpful. BTW, Benin sounds like an interesting trip - I’ve been wanting to visit West Africa for a while now, hopefully I can do so in the next year or two.

I don’t want to disclose the countries yet, but I know that I can’t send mail there from Japan, although I hope I can receive cards from there!

As for wifi, I’ve had some very recent, reliable trip reports suggesting that it is very sporadic and hard to use. People do have phones, but they are probably using a network/4G, not wifi, to connect online.


I do the same as well. On my recent trip to Cambodia, even though most places had wifi, it often wasn’t very good, or just not working at all (I was deep in the countryside, not normal tourist places). The local sim card worked much better (but not all the time) and since I had so much data I just stopped searching for wifi and used data instead.

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I’ve arranged several swaps in advance of traveling and will continue to do so. I just posted on the forum well in advance of my travel dates, letting my partners know they could either send ahead or wait for me to send mine first. I specify a number of cards I think I can handle writing most of the time. It’s worked well.


Same here. I arrange swaps with people on the Forum, posting what I’m offering and what I’m looking for in return. I buy some series cards that are popular (FOTW, MOTW, GF, etc) before I go, then try to find some local cards when I’m there. I’ll send out my swaps and then mail out a few surprises to my Postcrossing friends. I also try to do a few Travel Mode cards. Sometimes these trips are a success (I had excellent luck in Aruba, Argentina and Uruguay) but I’ve had terrible experiences in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I was in Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad last week, waiting to see what happens with those cards in the coming weeks.


It is perfectly fine to arrange trades in advance.
When I visited San Marino some years ago, knowing that I would have been there for just some hours, and was not sure if I would have been able to find stamps and really send cards from there, I did this way:
I arranged a small bunch of trades in advance, asking for the receivers’ addresses so I could prepare them on adesive labels, and choosing the cards for me. Then I asked the receivers to reserve those cards for me, but not to send them until I told them I was actually able to send their cards from San Marino.

Everything worked the best