Reading the TravelCUTS blog today (always find great budget-minded travel tips there) and was reminded by this morning’s post of the value of carrying calling cards whenever you hit the road.  

It’s an old-fashioned concept–a small card with just your name, and possibly an e-dress or blog URL–that you can you can tuck into the backpack of a new friend to make it easy to stay in touch when you’re home again.

I know a guy–a very polished Vancouver businessman–who carries only simple white cards with just his name embossed in black on one side. He uses them for business and pleasure, jotting down the appropriate phone number or address in ink depending on who he is handing his card to. It eliminates the need for different cards for different contexts–and it just looks classy.

When my daughter moved into residence at university a couple of years ago, I ordered some free cards on-line from VistaPrint with just her name, cell number and e-dress (three things that aren’t likely to change anytime soon), and she has since carried them to China, France and Switzerland.

The cost was a meagre $5 for shipping and the cards were on good stock, but you have to accept a tiny line of VistaPrint advertising on the back. I was so impressed with the print quality that I ordered some custom cards for myself–for a small fee, you can forego the advertising. Makes a nice gift for a new grad heading off on a gap year…

Update March 6, 2009: I’ve since learned about another company, Moo, that offers inexpensive custom-printed mini calling cards. My writer friend James Glave ordered some to promote his Bowen Island B&B, and I was really impressed with the quality–and the fun factor.