Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt and it’s a great activity to do with kids. Letterboxers hide small boxes, generally outdoors, containing a rubber stamp or hand-carved stamp and a logbook. The people who plant the boxes leave clues online so others can find the boxes. When a box is found, the finder stamps their logbook with the boxes’ stamp, and the boxes logbook with their own stamp, recording that they’ve found that box. Then they return the box where they found it so others can find it.
Cost: None, but you’ll need a stamp, ink, a pen, and a log book.
Hours: You can search for letterboxes anytime. Depending on where they are located, you may be limited to between dawn and dusk.
Bathrooms & amenities: Bathrooms & amenities nearby will obviously vary, but since letterboxes are often hidden in forest preserves you’re likely to be limited to outhouses or port-a-pottys, and maybe some picnic tables or picnic areas.
Accessibility: Varies, depending on location, but the ones we did were in forest preserves and they were slightly off the path. The idea is that letterboxes should be hidden from everyone unless they are following the clues. I brought a stroller for one on a bike path, but we had to park the stroller to actually look for the box.
We paid: About $12. We purchased a stamp and ink pad from Joann Fabrics; with a coupon and a sale, we paid approximately $10 for both, plus $2 for a small blank book at Half Price Books. We could have used a small notebook from home and carved our own stamp, but I splurged since we’ll be using the supplies for quite a while. A compass is helpful, but not necessary.
I heard about letterboxing about a year ago, but we just got around to trying it out. I got a lot of information about it from letterboxing.org and then we found clues for letterboxes on both Letterboxing.org and AtlasQuest.com. I preferred Atlas Quest for locating letterboxes. You can search for letterboxes in your area by zip code and get information about the letterboxes, such as when they were last found (which is particularly helpful because many of the boxes where hidden years ago, so it’s helpful to know that they were still there as of a couple months ago).
We’ve searched for four letterboxes so far and found three. I was concerned that if we didn’t find a “treasure” at the end of our hunt Cooper would be really upset. He did seem a little disappointed, but still enjoyed the hunt, and it gave us an opportunity to talk about what could have happened to the box and about disappointment.We really enjoyed being outside and having a treasure to hunt for. I look forward to eventually carving our own stamp and planting our own letterboxes.
- don’t forget the sunscreen / bug guard (I love the Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard/Sunscreen). We did forget & we won’t make that mistake again!
- read the directions/clues completely before heading out. I found a couple we considered searching for and at the very end of the directions was very important information that changed my mind (ex: there’s an electrical fence)