Let me start off by saying this is NOT Geocaching. They are essentially mortal enemies of letterboxers. Also, there is no letter sending nor any boxing … for those of you who thought that might actually be a part of this. This is a simple explanation of the hobby.
Have you ever seen National Treasure and thought to yourself, “I would so want to do that.” Well, this is National Treasure in a sense. How it works is there are people who plant letterboxes, people who find them, and some do both. Most people begin with just finding them, and then move on up to planting them as well. So, what is the point of finding a letterbox, and how do you begin?
First, you will need to sign up on a website like atlasquest.com. From there you can search for letterboxes in your area. When picking one, the site will tell you whether it will be a short walk to find it or whether it is a long hike and anything else in between.
You can also see useful things such as how many times it was found, the last time it was found, and of course–the clues. The clues are your only guide to finding the letterbox. Some clues are easy and some will make you use your head. I recommend finding boxes a lot of people have found and that are short walks before trying the upper echelon stuff.
But, wait a second. What the heck is a letterbox, and what do you need to do this hobby?
A letterbox is a weather proof box containing a stamp, a little notebook, and sometimes a hitchhiker. I will explain hitchhikers later on. What you will need as a finder is a stamp and a little notepad of your own. I recommend getting a custom stamp or carving a unique one. However, you can buy a stamp from a craft store if you lack artistic talent like me.
So, you followed the clues, found the letterbox in a pretty good hiding spot, and now you are wondering, “What the heck do I do now?” This is actually the best part. You get to use that stamp you made or bought and stamp in the book that is in the letter box you found. You also write your trail name and the date you found the box by your stamp.
Next, you take the stamp in the box and stamp your little book as well and write anything about that box you want. Such as the name of it or where it was. Okay, so you stamped your book and used your stamp in their book.
Now you need to hide that box where you found it and make sure it is well covered. You do not want random people finding it or seeing you hide it as they are not letterboxers and could just destroy the box since they do not know what it is.
Congratulations! You found your first letter box. Now with your feet wet, you can decide whether you want to find more or even plant your own box. But wait just one second! Didn’t I say that I would explain what the heck a hitchhiker is? I don’t want a dirty hobo in my car! It is okay.
First, a hitchhiker is not a person. Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. A hitchhiker is a mini letterbox that is usually in a bag and has its own stamp and book. You treat it the same as the letterbox you found it in except… you get to take it with you! That is right, you take it and hide it in the next letterbox you find. Hitchhikers are a fun little surprise since you were not expecting to find another little stamp to add to your awesome stamp book.
Overall this is a fun way to get out of the house. It is great for kids as well since it is a mini adventure of sorts and you get to walk and kill off some energy.
Have you ever letterboxed before? Do you have any further questions about it?