As cabin fever sets in and pajama pants become our everyday wear, everyone is trying to find ways to be social while distancing themselves. For some of us, Zoom calls, FaceTime sessions, and social media have kept us in the loop enough the people closest to us, and that’s all that matters. But for those of us who love to stay connected to the outside world through travel, the exhilaration of meeting new people and getting to know different cultures seems out of reach.
Well, frustrated travellers: Now is a great time to find an international pen pal .
Benefits of an international pen pal
It’s not every day that the entirety of the world is experiencing the exact same devastation at the exact same time. Having an international pen pal is a great way to be able to share your feelings with someone who can completely understand what you’re going through. This is a time where someone in Milan and someone in New York City can bond over their shared experience.
You can also, of course, learn about a new culture. Maybe you were planning to visit Argentina one day and your travel plans were derailed. With a pen pal you can gain a better understanding of the country and plan for where to go in the future. You can learn about interesting customs, best dishes to try, and even practice a foreign language. In return, you can teach your pen pal about your culture and help them with their English a bit.
Where to find an international pen pal
Social media has been one way for people to meet others around the world—but randomly messaging people you don’t fully know to initiate a pen-pal relationship can feel a little creepy. Fortunately, there are platforms to help you find a pen pal with safeguards that make all parties involved feel comfortable and welcomed.
This site allows you to become virtual pen pals with people from all over the world. With InterPals, you can also do a language exchange with someone who speaks a language you want to learn or brush up on. Just click on the language you want and the profiles of native speakers will pop up.
By creating a free account on PenPal World, you can get to know people from around the world. You are granted your own virtual mailbox and just like Facebook, you can add friends to your profile. Also, PenPal World comes with security measures set in place to flag any suspicious activity and make the communication a more comfortable experience.
Using this site is a fantastic way to feed your wanderlust. On Postcrossing, people can send postcards to each other from anywhere in the world. This site has nearly 800,000 members from 280 countries.
Have fun, but take precautions
Not everyone will be who they say they are, unfortunately—so it’s important to take precautions when entering the world of pen paling.
Never share your residential address with a stranger
If you have a P.O. Box, use it. If not, it’s best to use email for your pen pals for your own safety. Better yet, create a new email address with the purpose of using it exclusively with your pen pal friends.
Don’t send anyone money
Be wary of anyone you’re corresponding with who requests money. If you would like to help someone financially, donate to a reputable organisation or fund. And never, ever share your banking or financial information.
Use your block, mute, and delete options wherever necessary
No one deserves to be harassed, belittled, or otherwise deal with negativity. Thankfully, platforms make it easy to keep as much of these things away as possible. Whenever you can, report the person and their activity to the site or social media to ensure other’s safety with the inclusion of your own.