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Blog > Travel Mode adventures in Africa (part 1)

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A map of Europe and Africa, tracing the Budapest to Bamako rally itinerary, through central Europe and the coast of Africa

Sometime ago, postcrossers Andry (aka andry1961) and Maret (aka cerres) from Estonia signed up for the Budapest to Bamako Rally (also known as B2B), and decided to take Postcrossing with them on the trip. What is the B2B, you might ask? It is a bit of a crazy idea! This minimally assisted navigation race from Europe to Africa had its debut in the same year as Postcrossing itself, and celebrates its 17th anniversary in a few days, on December 26. In the rally, participants have to rely on their luck, resources and skills to make their way from Budapest (Hungary) to Bamako (Mali). These days, the rally ends in Freetown in Sierra Leone though, due to instability in Mali. There are no rescue helicopters, tow trucks, translators or guides: between the checkpoints and border crossings, everyone is on their own.

You might be thinking… what does a rally have to do with Postcrossing? 🤔 Well, Andry and Maret are well-traveled postcrossers, and part of their life goal is to visit a post office and send a postcard from every country they travel to… so naturally, they incorporated this mission into their adventure, and offered to share with us a glimpse of what this looks like in some countries along the way.

Andry and Maret's van crosses the start line of the rally, to much excitement

Although B2B officially started on October 21 in Budapest, for them, it started some days before that in Estonia, their home country. On their way there, they crossed Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, visiting postboxes and post offices along the way until finally reaching Hungary, for the start of the big adventure. Once things officially started, they drove through Slovenia, Italy, Monaco, France, Spain and Gibraltar, on their way to the African continent. We were thankful that their itinerary and schedule allowed a detour through northern Italy, where we were able to meet and cheer them on!

Andry and Maret meet Ana and Paulo, in Bolzano

On the evening of October 24th, Andry and Maret made it to Tangier in Morocco, to start the African leg of their adventure the next morning. They prepared for their postcard-sending mission by procuring stamps and postcards in advance, and researching post offices addresses… but it was still a challenge to make it work sometimes, as you will learn!

Andry and Maret write postcards at a Poste Maroc branch in Marrakesh

Using the Travel Mode, they were able to mail some postcards from Morocco, both from Tangier and Marrakesh, without too much difficulty. They tried to always get their postage cancelled with the date stamp, to make sure the postcards were really put on their way, which sometimes meant traveling to a different post office to see it happen. Postage for Europe is 9 MAD (≈ €0.81, roughly the same in US dollars), for the USA is 15 MAD (≈ €1.35), and 16.7 MAD for the rest of the world (≈ €1.5), and the fastest of these postcards arrived in Germany in just 7 days!

A long road in the desert. A sign warns of camel crossing

They then raced south through the endless desert roads of Western Sahara, a disputed territory with a complicated history that you can learn more about here. Dakhla, the capital city, used to be a fishing town and sits in a curious peninsula that juts out from the mainland. Andry and Maret tried their best to make it to a post office before it closed for the weekend, but every branch of Poste Maroc they visited turned them away, stating they were a bank and not a post office… so this was a tricky mission!

A branch of Poste Maroc

Finally, they were directed towards a mysterious unmarked slot on a corner wall and were reassured by the staff that this was the place to drop their postcards, so that they could then be forwarded to the sorting department and receive their cancellation… What a peculiar setup!

A mysterious slot in a corner of a white wall serves as postbox, where Andry mails his postcards

Through conversation with a seller at a copy-and-print kiosk, they realized postcards were not for sale anywhere, as a special permit was required to do so. Since not so many tourists came through there, it wasn’t worth it for the local sellers. It’s a good thing they came prepared! They received some very low Postcard IDs from this rarely visited territory (the lowest was EH-14), and the fastest postcard sent from there arrived in the Netherlands in just 12 days. The mysterious slot did its magic!

Onwards to Mauritania! On the way to the capital Nouakchott, Andry and Maret’s van got stuck in the desert sand… but luckily a team from Lithuania came to their rescue! Maret writes that the participants in the rally are all very supportive of each other. In the capital, they chose a hotel in front of the post office, to make things easier.

Andry and Maret's van needed to be towed in the desert...

When they got there, they realized the country had gone through a monetary reform in 2018, which moved a decimal point in their currency… and meant that all the stamps they had bought before leaving home (which were from 2017) were now invalid. 😔 They bought some new stamps, wrote their postcards… but in the meantime the post office had closed, and they ended up mailing their postcards from the mailboxes outside, along the busy street. This is when they realized the post office was guarded by armed forces at night, so their postcards had a police escort! The postage prices were similar to those in Morocco, 440 ouguiya (≈ €1.12) for Europe and 550 ouguiya (≈ €1.40) for mail to the USA.

A night stroll to mail postcards from a guarded postbox, and Andry settling their postage inside the post office

There are still a few countries left in Andry and Maret’s grand adventure, but this post is already very long… so we’ll save those for a part 2 of this report. Stay tuned for more, and let us know what you think!

93 comments so far

sandhurst, United Kingdom
Very interesting! I don't think I would have the bravery to do such a tour. Crack on with part 2!
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DarciNZ, New Zealand
Combining two missions into one! I can understand how difficult it was to find postcards, stamps, post offices, as I struggled on travel mode in Costa Rica and didn't even try in Panama as I didn't see any evidence of a postal system there! How exciting, and well done!!
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ejcain, United States of America
One of my favorite things about traveling now is to send postcards in travel mode! What a fun trip and blog post - looking forward to Part 2 :)
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MrsFuchur, Switzerland
How interesting. I always find it challenging to know about postage prices and locations to buy postcards and stamps from, so I get how much research and trial-and-error this must have taken! Thank you so much for these insights, I am looking forward to reading part number two of this series.
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samquito, United States of America
i am wating to read part 2. what an exciting trip.
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teicher, Germany
I never made such an exciting and challenging journey. I could imagine that this trip was the greatest experience in Andry and Maret's lives !!!
Thanks for sending us this great report.
Lothar
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ladymerry, Canada
Wow! How fascinating! Thanks for sharing. I must say, I agree with sandhurst on all points. Looking forward to part 2!
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Carygirl, United States of America
How brave they are but what an adventure!
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SalishSea, United States of America
Yes, please. Send part 2 of this fascinating Postcrossing journey.
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arubatoots, United States of America
Bring on Part 2! I read Part 1 while sitting next to the cozy fire in my living room. What an interesting and transporting story. Thank you for sharing this adventure.
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guyt, Canada
Such an amazing story !!! Using the travel mode, I have myself mailed postcards from 11 countries. I can easily understand the challenge and the excitement finding postcards and post offices in a foreign country.
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Shalako, United States of America
This is wonderful! I can't wait to read part 2!
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negi980, United States of America
I like doing this especially when I visit family in the Philippines, as postage over there is much cheaper compared to the US. I haven’t done it recently since I got foiled when I was in Guatemala. Apparently Guatemala did not have international post.
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Mona_Berlin, Germany
Wow, absolutely fascinating. But how does it work as you can't register postcards that are sent to you while on the road? At some point, you are not able to send postcards no more because your contingent is full...
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JudithfromHamburg, Germany
As I have a travel heart myself and am a huge lover of Africa, this was a wonderful read! Can't wait for part 2!
Merry Christmas to everyone reading this!
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ZYC521, China
I hope I can get postcards from Africa. Those who like to send each other can call me.
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kelpie, Russia
Andry and Maret, wow! What a great adventure! Thanks for sharing and we are waiting for the part 2 :)
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rococoabean, Australia
Brilliant! I can't wait to travel internationally again (next year). Thank you for including that background on Western Sahara.
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Geminiscp, Portugal
I absolutely LOVE this adventure!!! Travel mode is the best thing after Postcrossing itself and I'm only sorry it wasn't invented earlier.

I can't wait for more stories. Andry, you are my hero! :D
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pemasagirls, France
Great adventure ! I love the mailbox in the wall 😂
Thanks for sharing ! I hope they had a safe and unforgettable journey !
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Patsmum, Germany
Wow, what a trip!
As I love Postcrossing, travel mode and Africa I can't wait to read part 2 of the story!
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Poste, United States of America
This truly is a Grand Adventure!
Beginning with the preplanning and postal fun going to the starting point. The detour to Northern Italy added to the joy! Thank goodness for Team Lithuania making our postcrossing world even smaller and better.
This is another nice reminder of Travel Mode.
Happy upcoming 17th Postcrossing Anniversary. I am looking forward to part 2. Thank you for sharing this special epic trip!
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Toome2, Netherlands
What a great way to travel and take postcrossing with it.
Nice to share this great story, good luck!
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Feliz78, United States of America
Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Andry and Maret. You are blazing a trail for the rest of us.
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Pacomole, France
Thank you for sharing this beautiful adventure.
I am looking forward to part 2.
I am passionate about these travelers who live an enriching experience and make us dream with their words and their photos
What if an adventurer did the Silk Road?
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chocolate4ever, Canada
Wow!! Just traveling all that way is quite the feat!! To add postcrossing, another challenge. I love the pictures and the stories. I got to meet them at the Moncton, NB (canada) meet up i organized in July 2022. What an honor it was to have them present!! Safe and fun travels, my friends!!
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CindyMc, United States of America
This is so interesting! I'll look forward to Part 2.
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simonzhou2001, China
It sounds very good.Looking forward to the follow-up.
GOOD LUCK.
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GabiDD, Germany
Hi Maret and Andry, thanks for sharing your great adventure. I'm looking forward to the part 2.
Even within europe often it is hard to find a post office or a public postbox.
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KristinaGisela, United States of America
Wow! What an excellent adventure! This has to be the epitome of the Postcrossing spirit! I love the part about the mysterious slot in the wall! I found something similar in San Ignacio, Belize. The post offices in Belize don’t seem to have collection boxes outside the PO, you can only drop off your mail inside the PO. However, I discovered that the PO in San Ignacio has a slot in the wall on the side of the building very similar to this. I was a little concerned the first time I used it, but all my postcards sent from there arrived. Three years later, I remembered that slot and mailed my Guatemalan postcards from there on our way from Tikal to Belize City because the Guatemalan Post Office doesn’t have any outbound international service. Vive la Poste! Vive Postcrossing!
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JarlRagnar, Germany
Thanks a lot, Maret and Andry, for this exciting report. I´m looking froward to the second part :)
I think you must have great luck to receive a postcard from Western Sahara or Mauritania.
Continued good luck to you !
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Voldemort, Poland
What a fascinating story! :) I have been a fan of Andry since I started my own Postcrossing adventure two years ago. I frequently check the list of counries he visits and it includes amazing places aroud the world. I'm still waiting to be drawn or draw him myself. My niece Alicja has received one card from Estonia.

Andry and Maret I wish you many wonderful travels in coming year 2023. Good luck! :)
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hobbymail, United States of America
If I receive one of their postcards I'LL faint! What an adventure. Bravo.
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cerres, Estonia
Thank you all for reading and sympathizing. Postcrossing (especially Travel Mode) has certainly added colors and adventures to our travels.
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Cheryll, Suriname
Amazing! 🥰
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sara-cat, Sweden
What an adventure!!! Well done! Can't wait for part 2!
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sacdalton, United States of America
Thanks for sharing their story. I appreciate their commitment to getting those postcards in the mail. Great work.
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honeybee, Austria
Hello Andry and Maret, what a wonderful story you shared with us. I am looking forward to part 2.Thank you both for the great postcards you sent me from your travels. I met Andry at a postcrossing meetup in Innsbruck and was fascinated how well organized he was. :)
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thibcabe, Switzerland
Very interesting, thank you !
Looking forward to part 2. :-)
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hola_olaaa, Spain
Fascinating adventure and an unbelievable challenge to buy postcards, stamps, find a post office, its opening hours, local currency - how many details you need to consider in order to send a postcard. It must be rewarding when you see they reach their destination. ✨🍀 Curious to read Part 2. 🌍📬
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fisherman, Ireland
Great adventure and great fun. Looking forward to the next episode.
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jofemapa, Germany
Thank you for sharing this story and some pictures here! Have a great trip, Maret and Andry!
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D2M2, United States of America
Most riveting Postcrossing Blog ever! I couldn't wait to see the next photo, read the next paragraph! What a great journey and what travel doesn't have it's share of the unexpected. I look forward to Part 2 😄
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dagonno, Germany
Very interesting - but would wonder how EH-14 got through the Moroccan post office - the West Saharan flag is forbidden their. And the vast majority of the territory works with Moroccan IPs, I'm wondering whether it worked as with me in North Korea - set up before manually due to lack of IP access (okay, there is a world-standard internet in North Korea - for 200 $ per SIM card and in at least two hotels there are Wifi hot spots).
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Jenzeestyle, United States of America
love this cant wait to see and read part 2
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EmmaGodfri, Russia
Very amazing story! Cant wait to read part two!
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pitti67, Germany
Great Idea 😊I get 2 cards from Andry from exotic places.Who get this surprises now ?
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Pangolin, United States of America
Loved this! Wow!
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IndonesiaRaya, Indonesia
i read Andy's travel since the first article in this blog in 2018, and i wish get one of the cards sent from "rare countries"...
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Carol1, United States of America
What an exciting trip and great pictures! Wish I could do it. I'm looking forward to Part 2.
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POSTALSAURUS, India
Real Adventure Wonder Story. I wish get Postcard from Andry and Maret.🤠
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shui, Taiwan
What a fantastic adventure ! Can't wait to read the next part ! Thanks for sharing this !
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cerres, Estonia
Dagonno....The postcards, which depicted the symbols of the Western Sahara, were covered with paper before packed in a transparent plastic envelope, and we stuck the front thickly with different colored stickers. Fortunately, the plastic envelope was not opened
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Moorgeist, Germany
As I'm not so adventurous and travel into distant countries far away I like to hear such interesting stories a lot. Looking for part 2!
Good luck on your way and always a mailbox in sight :-)
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Flippie, Canada
I have only one comment...WOAH...
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Rost48, Russia
Funny story! I would like to take a ride in the Siberian and taiga places of Russia in the same way! That would be a trip!
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MagicMarie, Germany
That's very interesting. Thanks for sharing. It's so lovely ro see how other Postcrossers are dealing with the adventure to mail postcards from other countries. I feel you! It's sometimes frustrating with the opening hours and stamps- but such a joy when some postcards arrive!! 😍
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merouan, Morocco
such as amazing crossing my country Morocco it's a pleasure .
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Hechizera, United States of America
Happy travels! It's interesting to see how the mail works around the world....for me you just drop mail in the mailbox and hope for the best!
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nuriayasmin70, Indonesia
I'm a digital nomad without a home base and just send cards and someone I met in the postcrossing forum receives the cards. I enjoy looking for cards and going to the post office in every country I visit. I only started this last August and have sent cards from Hungary, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania so far. Unfortunately, none of the cards I sent from Kosovo have arrived and I suspect the guy who took my cards didn't bother to send them. I should have stayed to make sure he puts stamps on them. The girl who receives my cards always sends me photos and I really love to see where the cards are coming from and what people are writing.
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stefbot75, Italy
i think i sent an official postcard to him some time ago.
when i take a look at the galleries from unusual countries he was often one of the senders.
have a nice trip and good luck for finding postcards, stamps, wifi for travelmode id, and mailboxes
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steffl, Germany
I recieved a beautiful postcard from Andry, when they were in Senegal! :)
What a great adventure and I am so happy to be a little part of this crazy journey!
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Julia1968, Slovakia
Congratulation.
You are brave.
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PoulsboWA, United States of America
I was a lucky recipient of a card from Cerres from Senegal on 21 Nov - my first card from Africa which took 21 days to arrive to the northwestern USA.
Thank you, and safe travels!
SN-515
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funkyspoon36, United States of America
This is amazing! I would love to try this someday.
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nouvelleetoile, Russia
Today I received a postcard from them MR-107
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Judi-Wildflower, United States of America
Such a fun adventure!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their journey and look forward to part 2. Thank you for sharing.
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geojoy, United States of America
One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to send postcards from unusual places. Most recently, I had an adventure trying (and finally succeeding) to send postcards from Madagascar.
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kala, United States of America
Thank you for sharing. What an interesting and adventurous journey! Can't wait to read Part 2!
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AutismMom, United States of America
Another fabulous story! Safe travels! I would not have the guts to tackle this adventure.
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Suneel, India
💓 Amazing.....
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RuhrLady, Germany
Wow! I just checked my received postcards as I remembered receiving one from Sierra Leone in November. It is ID SL-60 and written by Andry. Thank you very much! :)
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Kot12, Russia
Very interesting!
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Potkukelkka, Finland
This is truly inspiring! And, via the comments, great to get a chance to take a look at some of the cards they sent. We will most definitely try travel mode on our future adventures. Thank you for a wonderful blog post and staying tuned for more. 🥳
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eeyoreinoz, Australia
Thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure. What an experience. Can’t wait to read more
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Luziaceleste, Brazil
Travel mode is always an extra pleasure Postcrossing bring to us, but this African adventure broeught travel mod to another level! Lots of wows.
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akalle, Sweden
Wow what a mission. And good for everyone to learn how to use travel mode, instead of 'home'ID when sending postcards from other countries.
Keep up!
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dollart, Finland
Maybe the coolest travel story with postcrossing ever :) Good luck Audrey and Mareth and may all your great cards travel safe as you make your journey in the race. Never been fan of car sport but now i am keen to learn more.
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leaflets, China
Hey, this trip is what I dreamed for!
Always love to use travel mode during my trip abraod.
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pmsobon, Switzerland
What a story! Thanks for documenting it all for us — fascinating!
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memo_baghdad, Iraq
One of my favorite things about traveling is sending postcards while in travel mode! Love always to share the scenes and fun :)
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JulsCZ, Czech Republic
I also have a nice story with travel mode in Africa - we were on short holiday in Kenya (Mombasa) and I wanted to send some official (and many unofficial) cards from there. Unfortunately due to the very short time slot I wasn't able to find any open post office. That's when the Mission Impossible has started. On the internet I found the current postage rates, counted everything twice. I packed all the cards in plastic (non-see through) bag together with money (I put some extra money just to be sure and also for the effort to put all the stamps on their own) and leave it at the airport post office desk. Due to the heat, they had brick walls and windows with many breaks, which allowed me to leave the cards inside the office. Then I started praying that the person will be honest and trustworthy and he/she would send all my cards and won't through it away and keep all the money (it was quite a lot actually). But miracles are happening, that post office angel send all my cards :) Happy Postcrossing to everybody and if you had chance to visit Mombasa, you can always count on airport post office and if possible, in their opening hours :)
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Alberto99, Italy
For me Andry is a fantastic person, not only because he combines his greatest hobbies (Postcrossing, traveling and rallying), but above all because he allows all of us to receive postcards from all those countries from which it would be very difficult. So, I can call him my great friend of Postcrossing.

I can't wait to read the second part of his recent adventure!!
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Talal90Ahmed, Iraq
COOOOOOOOOOOOOOL- FROM IRAQ---
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jozefpalik, Slovakia
Waww its great trip. I would like postcards from African countries :)
Greeting from Slovakia
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euniceale_, Singapore
What an amazing journey! I can't wait to read part 2!
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Schwarzwaldalex, Germany
Wow, what an interesting journey. Never forget, they have to find a local wifi-spot :-)
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AutismMom, United States of America
I just received a card today from Andry and feel so honored! They are, or were, in Svalbard and Jan Mayen about 12 days ago. I received SJ-1665 sent from Longyearbyen. I never even heard of this country before today. Thank you, Andry!
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Setsuko-, Japan
Such an amazing story! Thank you for sharing your great experience with us.
Surprisingly I received a postcard from them from Western Sahara! I'm so happy. Thank you! Please take care & stay safe.
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ACEA13, United States of America
Thank you for sharing! What an incredible adventure, and so interesting!
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Solo1959, United States of America
In May 2022, I was in Morocco and there was another race simular to what you are explaining here. I was fascinated by the whole concept! Very cool, thank you for taking us along through your story.
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Selena, United States of America
This is so interesting, and I appreciate them sharing their journey. I don’t think I’ll ever travel there, but I love reading the adventures of those who do! Thank you.
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fleurlesnana, Indonesia
Great adventure and very inspiring! Thank you for sharing.
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