One thing that has brought some cheer to my life this year is when I started getting back into having penpals. I wasn’t expecting to have an easy time finding people to write to and to find people from all over the world interested in creating a connection through letters. It has helped sparked creativity and brings joy every time I see a letter going through the mail slot in my door.

I had penpals a long time ago when I was ten years old. I was penpalling with my second cousins who lived in Virginia. We wrote letters sporadically, but it kind of ended when I got into high school. I wouldn’t have expected to start again years later and find people who are becoming a great encouragement in my life.

Still not sure if you are wanting to start penpalling? Here are some experiences of other penpals to help you get an idea of their penpal journey.


Name: Justeen

Location: Philippines

Instagram: @wr1ters_bl0ck_

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start? 

I actually just started a few months ago, so I am kind of new at this. However, the first time I heard of penpalling was through my dad when I found a letter his penpal had written him way back in the 90s. When I started doing junk journaling and following accounts on Instagram, that’s when I learned that despite the new communication technologies we have now, there are still many people interested in sending out snail mails to meet new friends around the globe. I always wanted to try this, so I started contacting people looking for penpals, too. A lot of them responded positively; thus beginning my penpal journey.

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

I love meeting people from around the world. Sharing stories and learning their culture is the best part of penpalling for me. Books and films also help us learn about cultures, but through penpals you actually get a picture of a culture from different points of view and most of all, from the view of the people who experience it in everyday life. Penpals share tidbits of their culture and personal experiences that academics and documentaries will never be able to capture.

My least favourite in penpalling, though, is the fear of mails getting lost. I would feel bad if my letters never reach them; worse is when they did respond to my letters but I never got to respond back -simply because their letters got lost in the mail. I love making friends and I wouldn’t want them to think that I ignored them.

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

I get my penpalling supplies from different shops, many are from China through the Shopee App. However, my favourite would be from the local shops owned by fellow junk journal hobbyists I’ve met on Instagram. I get to support their small business and I get various unique and beautiful arts. I even gained them as friends.

Favourite thing to get in your envelope? 

The letter, of course, because through it I get to share tidbits of my own culture. Aside from that, I also love gifting them my own crafts and photographs I took myself.

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

Simplest advice I could give is, start. There’s always the chance that you won’t get a positive response when you reach out to people, but when they do accept you as a penpal it is worth it. You gain friends and you gain a whole new world. 

Penpalling just amazes me. Despite the social media and other platforms that allow us to reach people in easier ways, there are some who’d still go back to the old ways of communicating–letters. I find that there is something more heartfelt and nostalgic with written letters than electronic ones. I guess it’s the effort in writing them and the patience in waiting for them that makes it worthwhile. So despite all the modern technologies, we will always go back to our past and be a little old-fashioned.


Name: Emilka

Location: Poland

Instagram: @emilysendsletters

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start? 

I joined a Polish penpalling community Facebook group around the beginning of 2020, but I actually needed a couple of months to make a decision to write a post and start looking for penpals. It was in June 2020 when I sent my first letter.

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

My favourite part is definitely connecting with people in – for me – an easy way. I am a major introvert in real life, so making friends face to face is very hard for me. Penpalling allows me to get to know people slowly and without forcing myself. I also get the chance to reply when I feel l have time and mental resources, it is a great advantage in the current world where instant communication via different apps is being forced on us. I love the fact that even though my penpals and I live in at least different cities, there are still people there who are genuinely interested in reading about my life and my problems and vice versa. It is, of course, different than having a friend with whom you can spontaneously meet up for a coffee, but it is a close and good enough experience for me.

My least favourite part would definitely when the relationship with someone just doesn’t “click” and you need to find a way to politely finish it. I always try to give people time, but if it doesn’t improve in a couple of letters, you need to tell them the truth, and it is never a pleasant experience to neither of you.

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

Locally- shop called Action, we have a couple of them in my city. I also loved the Aliexpress stationary – not because it is cheap, because of the lovely designs. Unfortunately, buying there got difficult because of the new tax laws in Poland, so I stopped shopping there.

Favourite thing to get in your envelope? 

The letter! No joke, the letter is actually the best and most important part for me. As for the goodies – I love getting teas and stickers. 🙂

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

Don’t hesitate if you are curious, especially if you think about finding international penpals. It is easier than you think! Also do not feel forced to write by hand, if you feel like you want to reply but you do not have the physical strength or time, just ask your penpal if they are okay with a printed letter. I was stopping myself because I wanted to write everything by hand and the letters were piling up, when I asked it turned out most of my penpals are okay with letter written on my PC and printed out. I now use this method when life gets tough or I am very busy and it made penpalling so much easier when life gets a bit difficult.


Name: Sarah

Location: Germany

Instagram: @StardustCraftiStudio

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start?

When I was a kid, I always had Diddl magazines and there were ads for penpals from all over Germany, I was totally shy, but at some point, I decided to write a letter to someone, sadly I never got a reply, but I found the experience incredibly great. I think I was 10 years old then.

The next time I started writing letters was in 2012 (16y.o), there was an app (doongle), that’s when I met my first penpals. Most of them were from the US and I’m still in contact with one of my penpals and I’m very happy about that! At that time, I had a lot to do with my mental health because I was in the hospital and not able to do anything, a therapist advised me to confide in people and since I never had a good relationship with those who were close to me, so I found open ears with people who lived over 1000km away. This touched me so much that I still write letters today and in parallel to my real family I carry another one in my heart. I’m always happy when I can make others happy, as I was once made happy.

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

My favorite part, first of all, is of course getting to know the people I write with, connecting with them and building a really good friendship out of it. It doesn’t matter if they are far away or close by. It’s the little things that I find exciting to get to know, then it’s also incredibly easy to send them little birthday packages and put a smile on their face. But it’s also incredibly interesting to learn about their cultures, traditions and also the language. Even if you speak the same language you can always end up learning something new or improving and that’s where all the fun is. I also love it when my penpals set me new challenges, for example when they put material in the letter and make it a challenge for me to create something out of it. Every letter is like a little grab bag you never know what you’re going to get.

What I like less are probably situations in which others want a pen friendship with you, you write the first letter and never hear anything from this person again, which is really a pity, something like that is also part of it. And I think it’s very practical to have a blacklist, because we as penpals also exchange information and talk about black sheep in case of uncertainties.

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

Most of the time I use 1€ stores for crafting supplies such as Tedi; KiK, Action. This varies, if I’m looking for something specific, then also Ebay and Etsy, in very rare cases sometimes Aliexpress. Even in normal supermarkets, there is always gift wrap paper, which you can use incredibly well for crafting and being creative. The possibilities are therefore unlimited.

Favourite thing to get in your envelope?

Of course the letter! For me, it doesn’t matter if there are goodies in the letter, I’m perfectly happy with just a letter, after all, it tells me more than anything else how the person is doing, what they’ve experienced and what they’re looking forward to next. Especially if they are experiences that were unexpected and in the end were so much fun that you definitely want to repeat them.

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

It’s okay to take your time to write your letters. There is absolutely no point in rushing, you might lose interest and that would be a shame.
At the very beginning, don’t look for too many penpals at once! Try it first, it can be quite frustrating not to find a letter in the mailbox, that’s for sure, but when the letter comes, it’s worth it twice.
Be open to all countries of the world and don’t look explicitly for one country, maybe you’ll be lucky and find penpals there, but for that you might miss out on the most beautiful friendships, that would be a loss.
It’s okay not to accept all penpal requests. Just because you get a lot of requests doesn’t mean you have to accept them all. Sometimes a lot of requests can put an incredible amount of pressure on you.
And lastly, it’s okay to ask others to write the first letter, it doesn’t mean just because others want you to be a penpal that you necessarily have to write the first letter. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing the first letter every now and then, but basically I think others can write it just as well, especially those you’re not sure about!

One of Sarah’s creations


Name: Rhiannon

Location: England

Instagram: @rhiandroid_penpals

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start?

So I met my best friend on Bebo in like . .. 2008? She wasn’t online super often and we both loved doing little doodles for each other, so we decided to post them to each other. I’ve always been super into stationery so from there I just found a few other pals to write and exchange stickers/washi/postcards/stamps with!

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

I’ve really gotten into stamps lately!! I love the goofy ones.

The least favourite part of penpalling is when something doesn’t arrive, and there’s that awkward space where you don’t wanna ask if they’ve got your letter in case they don’t WANT to write back or just haven’t got it yet.

Have you met any of your penpals in person?

Yes! My OG penpal moved to uni near me so we were ten minutes away and hung out all the time. We used to journal together too. She’s moved back home (4 hours away!) but we just did our first post-covid meet in August. I’d love to go to London and meet some more penpals of Instagram soon!

Rhiannon and her penpal

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

Paperchase is always good, and I love etsy but on a budget you can always do Poundland/the Range/even supermarkets! My favourite Etsy shops are:
Dinky Ink (best paper!), Jelly Rhino (great address labels), Vanima (cutest shipping labels), Killerviews (super high quality spooky stuff)

Favourite thing to get in your envelope?

Something that you know I’ll like – it shows you read my letters. I love it when people send Halloween stickers because they know that’s what I’m about!

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

You can do it for cheap! Pick up free magazines (skate shops are my fave) and make collages, decorate your envelopes with kids’ stickers (Poundland and the Range are good!) and don’t compare yourself to other peoples’ stuff you see on Instagram. Also if you don’t click with someone, it’s okay – there are tons of penpals out there who would love to know you!

Name: Maisie

Location: Surrey, England

Instagram: @maisiespenpals

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start? 

I first got into penpalling by chance when an online friend was asking for penpals! I got really into it and found more through Instagram, so I made my Penpal account and got even more. 

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

My favourite part of penpalling is getting to connect with people in such a personal way from those both in the UK and all over the world.

My least favourite part is when people stop replying without telling you why as it makes me think that I did something wrong. 

Have you met any of your penpals in person?

I’m friends with one of my penpals in real life that lives a few hours away so I’ve met her, but I’m planning on meeting one of my penpals for the first time in September! 

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

I buy my penpal supplies from all over the place but I like to support small businesses on Etsy, but also Hobbycraft, AliExpress and The Range!

Favourite thing to get in your envelope?

The most important part of the mail to me is the letter, it matters way more than the extras, but I love receiving post cards and playlists!

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

My advice for people who want to start penpalling is to follow Penpal Instagram accounts and maybe make one of your own and start reaching out to people! 

I would recommend penpalling to everyone, especially those who struggle with loneliness and mental health issues. It’s such a good way to connect with people and feel less alone! 

Name: Lauren

Location: Suffolk, England

Instagram: @lauren_penpals

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start?

I started penpalling in 2019 after going through a break up and decided I needed a hobby to distract myself. I watched Mei-Yings YouTube video on her penpals and joined “global penfriends”. Since then, I discovered the world of penpal Instagram! 

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite? 

My favourite part of penpalling is making friends all across the world, learning about life in different countries, different cultures etc. I feel like I have made friends for life.

My least favourite part is probably feeling the need to write replies as soon as I receive them, or balancing writing letters around uni/work. 

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

The Range, The Works, Etsy and AliExpress. 

Favourite thing to get in your envelope? 

The letter! (If we’re not including the letter, I love washi samples or tea!) 

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

I’d say find someone who has shared interests / hobbies, don’t be afraid to decline penpals who you don’t think will be a great match. Also don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make your letters / envelopes too “pretty/perfect”, it’s all about getting to know people! 

Name: Johanna

Location: The Netherlands

Instagram: @shizukaheiwa

How did you first get into penpalling? When did you start?

I used to penpal and do postcrossing when I was a teenager, but picked up penpalling again around 5 years ago. I saw all these amazing creations under the hashtag #snailmail and wanted to join in!

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

Favourite part of penpalling is getting to know the other person and their way of life. It really is a unique way of getting to know, for example, another culture.

Least favourite part is probably time-management. I would like to reply to penpals as soon as possible, but sometimes life gets in the way and I will feel majorly guilty about replying so late.

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

Aliexpress, a Dutch/Belgian storechain called Action, and the Dutch store HEMA.

Favourite thing to get in your envelope?

The letter itself and a teabag. I adore tea, so it’s always nice to receive a new flavour unknown to me.

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

Just start! Find a website or Instagram account where people are looking for penpals and reply to someone who you feel have something in common with. You don’t have to do anything fancy, just a writing block and a pen will do.

Name: Racheal

Location: East Yorkshire, England

Instagram: bee_happy_mail

How did you first get into pen palling? When did you start?

My friend got me into pen palling earlier this year. She was talking about a letter she received, and I brought back all the happy memories from my childhood pen pals, but with the bonus of a crafty twist! I used to have pen pals when I was much younger, but we lost contact as we grew up.

What is your favourite part of penpalling? Least favourite?

My favourite part is meeting new people and that it takes me away from the stresses of everyday life, it is nice to hear what others are doing.

My least favourite is becoming a little worried when I am busy and am unable to send a reply in the timescale I would like.  Sometimes I find it difficult to get inspiration for things to flow throughout my reply.

Favourite place to get penpalling supplies?

My favourite shop for crafty things is Hobbycraft, followed closely by The Range.  I do love on-line shops and little crafty sites too.  But for me I love to be able to see the item and it not just be a photo.

Favourite thing to get in your envelope? 

Honestly, I love everything I receive, it all makes me smile.  I have had some beautiful handmade paper items that are special.

Advice for those wanting to start penpalling?

Do it! It really is a beautiful calming and happy experience with lots of opportunities to meet new friends from around the world and within the UK too.  Even if you are not that crafty, just a letter can make someone’s day, a recipe swap or simple game of tic tac toe helps to engage.

I hope this has helped you learn more about penpalling and give you some ideas on how you can start your journey!

Thank you to those who contributed! Be sure to check out their Instagrams for inspiration!

Until next time,

xx Hannah

2 thoughts on “Penpals

  1. So nice to read! I shared this article on my blog where I also talk about pen pals @ 🙂 I loved hearing from such diverse people! Great questions as well 🙂


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