Marlene embarked on a year-long travel journey. Along the way, she learned a few tips she enjoys sharing with other travelers.
Travel Plans Include Planning for Mail Pick-up
When my husband and I retired, we decided to embark upon on an adventurous year-long journey in a recreation vehicle (RV). Our 29-foot RV has become our humble little home on the road. Through our travels, we encounter unique people, visit adventurous places, and see extraordinary landscapes and artifacts that can only be seen by traveling to that specific location to view it.
We are approaching the one-year mark for our journey, which has been interesting, and there is nothing I can imagine I would exchange for it. But we do still live in the real world, and we do still need to get our mail. Before beginning our trip, the most important matter we had to deal with was how we would receive our mail.
While traveling, I did not want to use my family and friends to collect and hold my mail, so, before leaving on our trip, I went in search of what to do to get our mail at any location, no matter where we traveled.
I discovered that there are many alternatives for receiving mail while traveling. I now use a couple of alternatives that fit my travel plans perfectly. Before making a decision, carefully consider your travel plans to determine which alternative works best for you.
United States Postal Service (USPS) – General Delivery
With General Delivery, you can send your mail to any post office in the United States, and then pick up your mail from the post office.
Look up the post office for the city you plan to be traveling and write down the city name and zip code.
Give mailers that city and zip code and your properly addressed General Delivery mail will be delivered to the specified post office.
A properly addressed General Delivery mailing address should be shown as follows:
[POST OFFICE CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE]
This works fairly well, especially if you want peace of mind knowing that your mail is being delivered someplace secure. With USPS General Delivery, you have the option to go pick up your mail yourself or have the post office forward your mail to you wherever you are at the time.
Note – the post office will charge a small fee for mail forwarding.
When you use the USPS for General Delivery, it is VERY IMPORTANT to indicate “GENERAL DELIVERY” as part of your mailing address.
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If you know the exact address of the post office, you can address your general delivery more specifically as follows:
[POST OFFICE STREET ADDRESS]
[POST OFFICE CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE]
Most post offices accept mail addressed with general delivery, however, it is wise to call the post office ahead of time to be sure the post office in the city where you will be traveling accepts general delivery mail.
The post office will hold your mail for 30 days. So, you want to make sure you pick up your mail before the 30-day period.
Online Mail Service
There is a fee for this type of service. Online Mail Services will scan and sort your mail. They will even accept packages on your behalf. You can find a large number of online mail services simply by doing an internet search for “Online Mail Service.”
Before selecting the company that you will use for your online mail service provider, consider these three things as the major points of interest:
1. See and pick up your mail. Do you want the online mail service to provide digital photos of the mail pieces only? This type of service allows you to see what kind of mail you have, see who the senders are, and decide whether or not you want to go pick up the mail pieces or have the online mail service discard the mail pieces for you.
2. See and have your mail forwarded. Do you want the service to provide digital photos for you to see and select which mail pieces you want to be sent to you? This type of service allows you to see what kind of mail you have, see who the senders are, and decide whether or not you want the online mail service to forward the mail pieces to you.
3. Read your mail online. Do you want the service to open and scan the contents of your mail piece and send a digital copy of the contents to you? This is a totally paperless solution. You won’t need to go anywhere to retrieve a physical stack of mail, nor will you have to have your mail sent to you. This type of service allows you to read your mail online.
Compared to the online mail services offered in #1 and #2, #3 is a fairly costly service, but in my opinion, if you can afford this service AND if you have an opportunity to go online every now and then, it is worth the cost.
Mail Forwarding Service
A mail forwarding service allows you to receive mail and packages. The mail forwarding service will collect your mail and then send your mail to you at specifically selected intervals. This type of service also gives you the convenience of having a physical address.
If you do an internet search, you will find information about many mail forwarding services. Travel clubs like Good Sam and Escapees are well-known providers of mail forwarding services. If you are a club member of some travel clubs, this service may be provided as part of the membership package or for a nominal fee. Contact a travel club to verify their policy regarding mail forwarding services. If you are not a member, then you will most likely be charged a fair fee for mail forwarding services.
Go paperless and become a digital traveler. You never have to see a piece of paper again… except for the physical pieces of mail that only come in paper form, for instance your driver’s license and voter election information.
Oftentimes, in an effort to preserve the environment, businesses are in favor of helping you go paperless. Contact the businesses that send mail to you and ask if you can go paperless by having them send communication by email instead of sending out a paper letter or bill.
Some Entities Require You to Have a Mailing Address
Whether you are traveling part-time or full-time, most likely you still want to receive mail. Or, maybe you don’t want to receive mail. Either way, it is important to know that if you live in the United States, you do need to have a physical address (domicile) that you can use for vehicle registration, voter registration, taxes, and insurance. All of these entities require you to establish some sort of address where you can receive the mail they want to send to you.
Get Your Mail While Traveling
The travel lifestyle offers many opportunities for carefree living.
Getting your mail is one of many things you need to plan for when traveling. No matter where you are or how long you plan to be on the road, getting your mail is as easy as you want it to be. You just have to plan for receiving your mail and then… Get your travel on!
- General Delivery Address Format, United States Postal Service, Website:
- Traveling Mailbox, Online Postal Mailbox, Website: http://travelingmailbox.com
- Mailbox Forwarding, Website: http://www.mailboxforwarding.com
Questions & Answers
Question: We will be traveling to British Columbia for an extended time from the United States. How do we get our mail sent there?
Answer: The mail system works the same in British Columbia as in the United States. Find the address for the post office that is nearest to where you will be staying and address mail with the post office address for "GENERAL DELIVERY." Or, rent a post office box at the post office or any establishment that leases mail boxes to customers. If you are staying with a family member or friend, you could also address mail to "Care of" or "c/o" with the person's name who presides at the address.
Question: Does anyone have a mail forwarding service they want to recommend or one they want to tell me to stay away from?
Answer: I have not run into any problems with mail forwarding services. I just find the least expensive service that offers what I need. So far, I have discovered that they are all happy to have your business and they treat your mail professionally. I don't have any recommendations of one over the other.
Question: Am a frequent traveler and am not always sure of where I am staying, what would be best for me to receive my mail?
Answer: Unfortunately, if you do not have a place where your mail is to be sent, then your mail is unable to be sent anywhere.
Perhaps a solution for frequent travelers would be to have your mail sent to a central location to your travels and then go to retrieve your mail from that location.
© 2018 Marlene Bertrand