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How to Get Mail as a Full Time RVer or Traveler
How do you get mail when you travel full time? Whether you are an RVer or a world nomad, it’s actually pretty easy. There are a wide variety of mail forwarding options available, from family and friends to full featured RV mail forwarding services and virtual mailboxes. But what is the best choice for you?
Of course, the method you choose will depend on your specific situation. So let’s take a look at all the ways to get your mail in an RV and which choices are the best RV mail forwarding solutions for different scenarios.
- How to Get Mail as a Full Time RVer or Traveler
- RV Mail Forwarding Service Options
- Virtual Mailbox and RV Mail Forwarding Service Providers
- Where to Have Your Mail Forwarded For Pickup
- Delivery Options for Online Shopping
- RV Mail Forwarding Tips
RV Mail Forwarding Service Options
Before we go any further, you should know that you will need a real street address for necessities like insurance, bank accounts, taxes and the RMV. Even if you do not get mail there. Generally, in cases where you need to provide a real physical address, you can also choose to provide a mailing address for the actual delivery of your snail-mail. Note: Some banks flag mail forwarding service addresses even if they are a real street address. So, if you are planning to use a mail service as a primary address, check with them before proceeding. Now, on to the options for forwarding your mail.
Mail Forwarding Service or Virtual Mailbox
Arguably, the best way to handle mail when traveling full time is a virtual mailbox or mail forwarding service. A virtual mailbox provides a”real” street address and allows you to view and manage your mail from anywhere at any time!
Here’s how a virtual mailbox works.
- The virtual mailbox provider gives you a mailing address to use for all of your mail.
- When mail arrives, the face of the envelope or package is scanned and you are notified that you have mail via an app or email.
- You log in to your virtual mailbox and decide how to handle each item. Options include, open and scan, forward, hold for forwarding, or shred.
- Mail and packages are forwarded to the location you specify as requested or on a schedule of your choosing.
This is by far, the most efficient option if you are going to be receiving mail that is time sensitive or important. You maintain control of how your mail is handled and can view each item online once it arrives and is scanned.
Often, you’ll only need a soft copy of your mail and can shred the original to save on forwarding costs. When you do receive something that needs to be physically forwarded (for example a new credit card) you can schedule forwarding at a time, place and speed that is most convenient for you.
Another handy feature is that most virtual mailbox services offer a check deposit service. So, any checks you receive can be sent directly to your bank for deposit. There are even virtual mailbox services that offer addresses in almost every state!
You can also select a forwarding only plan (no scanning) to simply have your mail forwarded to your location as requested.
Friends or Family
Have friends or family willing to let you use their address? This can be a great option, it’s a real physical address and, of course, is cheaper than a virtual mailbox. While you won’t be able to manage your mail remotely, you’ll still be able to receive your mail and have it forwarded to you.
However, your friend or family member will have to forward your mail. While this sounds easy in theory, it could become a burden to them as time passes. Also, if they travel often you may not have access to your mail for extended periods of time. They may even need to open your mail, is this something you are both comfortable with?
Still, it is a method that can work well, especially if you don’t receive a lot of mail.
Combo Plan – Virtual Mailbox & Friends or Family
Yet another option is to use a friend or family members’ physical address and set up a virtual mailbox for your mailing address. This choice might just be the best of both worlds. You get the convenience of a virtual mailbox and the stability of a friends or family members permanent address.
The advantage here is that you’ll be using your friends address as a real street address but they will (for the most part) not have to handle your mail. Also, if you decide to change mail forwarding providers, you won’t need to update anything that is tied to your physical address.
Post Office Box
A Post Office Box is worth mentioning but it’s not really a great solution. The Post Office is not set up to forward mail to wherever you happen to be, so you’ll need to ask someone local to pick up and forward your mail. Also, only select P.O. Boxes can receive UPS or FedEx packages. Oh, and you have to pay for the PO Box. (Depending on location, it might even cost as much as a virtual mailbox!)
That said, if you have an address you can use as your physical street address, someone to forward your mail on occasion, and don’t expect to receive time sensitive items it can work.
Virtual Mailbox and RV Mail Forwarding Service Providers
A full featured virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service with address options in 29 states! Manage and forward your mail from anywhere on your schedule. All Traveling Mailbox plans include scanning the front of every letter and package when they arrive. Unlimited cloud storage. Check deposit service. Integration with services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
Escapees comes highly recommended in the RV community and they have been providing RV mail forwarding service since 1985 so you know they have a lot of experience. You do need to be an Escapees member in order to take advantage of their service. Plans range from mail forwarding, to mail sorting and forwarding, to a scanning add-on for remote viewing.
Escapees mail service is tailored to RVers and their addresses can be used for drivers licenses, vehicles and establishing domicile. They offer physical addresses in FL, TX and SD with mailing addresses in TX.
MyRVmail / Good Sam Mail provides RV mail forwarding service with an address in Florida and plans that range from simple forwarding to a full virtual mailbox. Check deposit service is available with the premium plan. Passport America members get 25% off MyRVmail and Good Sam Club members get 25% off Good Sam Mail.
Escapees, Passport America and the Good Sam Club all made the cut for our top 6 RV membership clubs for full time RVers. Check it out for more details about how they can help you save money on the road.
Catering to RVers, live-aboard cruisers and travelers since 1988, St Brendan’s Isle offers addresses in Florida and will even help you establish residency.
iPostal1 offers addresses in every state along with a full featured virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service. View and forward your mail from anywhere. Check deposit service. You can even pick up your mail in person if you are in town.
Questions to consider when choosing an RV mail forwarding service.
- Location. Do they offer addresses in a place that works for you?
- Is the address a “real” street address? Can you use it for things like a driver’s license etc?
- Price. And are there any add on fees?
- Can you put your service on pause? Start and stop?
- Once mail arrives at your address, when and how does it get processed? How long until you are notified?
- What is the timeline for scanning mail. Is it included or is there a charge per page?
- Does the virtual mailbox integrate with other services like Google Drive or Drop Box?
- Are they trust worthy? Many mail forwarding services have specific background checks and qualifications for their employees.
- Do they offer junk mail sorting and disposal/shredding?
- Do they accept packages from UPS, FedEx and other major delivery services?
- How long will they store your mail? Is there an associated fee? What about packages?
- How much does forwarding cost? What are the service options? (e.g. tracking, expedited)
- Do they have an app? How do you review your mail?
- Support options and hours. Chat? Email? Phone?
- Can they sign for mail?
- How many names can you add to the account? Can you add a business name too?
- Do they offer check deposit service?
- If you are considering changing your domicile do they have resources or services available to help?
A Quick Note About Domicile
Let’s talk about domicile for a moment because if you plan to establish domicile in a state other than the one in which you lived prior to full time RVing you will need an address in that state.
For most people, their legal residence is also their domicile. While you can have many residences and addresses, you can only have one domicile. In a nutshell, your domicile is the place you “live”, consider your home, and (if away from) intend to return to and make your home indefinitely. Of course, full time traveling RVers don’t actually live in any one physical location. While it is awesome that our homes move around with us, sometimes it makes things complicated.
Changing your domicile state can impact many things including, income taxes, healthcare, marriage or divorce, insurance, and voting. You’ll want to carefully consider all aspects of your own situation to determine whether or not to change your domicile. This great guide by Escapees provides more detailed information about domicile for RVers, what it means and how it works.
Where to Have Your Mail Forwarded For Pickup
Once you’ve selected the best mail forwarding option for you, there is still one step left. You’ll need to decide where to forward your mail and packages so that you can pick them up as you travel. Let’s take a look at some common choices for RVers.
Campgrounds or RV Parks
Many RV parks will accept mail and packages for you – sometimes it will even be dropped off right at your site. Also parks that cater to snowbirds often offer mailboxes to both long and short term guests. Make sure to ask the park about their policy before having anything delivered.
Have your mail sent to the local post office and pick it up. They will hold it for you.
This one is a page right out of the history books. Before the 1860s, mail delivery was only from Post Office to Post Office — you had to go and pick up your mail! And you still can, it’s called General Delivery.
Always call the Post Office before sending any mail. Usually just the main branch in a town offers General Delivery so you’ll want to verify you have the correct location. The length of time the Post Office holds a package also varies by location.
This only works for USPS mail and packages – don’t expect to pick up UPS or FedEx packages at the Post Office. One more thing, you’ll need ID to pick up your mail.
Address mail as follows: ( with GENERAL DELIVERY in CAPS and -9999 after the local zip code)
CITY or TOWN, STATE, ZIP-9999
UPS, FedEx or Mailbox Stores
You’ll have to pay a small fee to have items delivered here but it is a good choice for large items that could be a problem for your campground or when you are boondocking. Plus, there are UPS, FedEx and Mailbox stores almost everywhere so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that works for your schedule.
Friends or Family
If you’ll be visiting friends or family, have your mail forwarded to them and pick it up when you arrive. It won’t cost you anything extra and a package or two is probably not a big deal for them.
Delivery Options for Online Shopping
In addition to the delivery options we just covered, there are some that apply specifically to online shopping. Let’s take a closer look.
Amazon Lockers or Counter Pickup Locations
There are two easy ways to get Amazon orders in just about any location – Amazon Lockers and Counter Pickup locations.
Amazon lockers are incredibly easy to use, once you’re are notified that your order has arrived, simply go to the locker and enter your code or scan the bar code on your phone. The locker holding your package will pop open. That’s it.
The Counter pickup locations are inside local retail stores and you can pick up your package from a store employee.
Find an Amazon Locker or Counter Pickup location near you.
Packages must be picked up within 3 days at a locker and within 14 days at a counter. Some items can also be returned at Amazon Locker and Counter locations.
It’s worth mentioning that many Amazon items can be returned in person at Kohls. If you no longer have the shipping box they’ll even pack your return for you at no extra cost.
Tip: Kohls has given us a 25% percent off coupon to use in store every time we’ve returned an Amazon item! (I don’t know if they always do this, but hey, they might.)
Other Pickup Lockers and Locations
Many retailers offer a ship to store option so that you can simply pick up your order at a local location. In addition, some retailers, Lowes and Home Depot for example, have pickup lockers at select locations. Ship to store or locker is a great option if you are boondocking or your campground does not accept packages.
We’ve even stayed at campgrounds that have installed pickup lockers that you can sign up to use while you are there! I’m really hoping to see more of these.
RV Mail Forwarding Tips
- Minimize your mail!
From billing statements to coupons, choose online delivery if you can. No matter how you decide to set up your RV mail forwarding, it will be simpler and cheaper if you minimize the number of physical items you receive.
- Place online orders when you can have them shipped directly to your location – don’t pay to have them forwarded. If you know where you’re headed next you can even have packages waiting for you when you arrive!
- Make sure to set up your RV mail forwarding service or virtual mailbox ahead of time so that you can update your mailing address before you hit the road.
- Stop junk mail. Check out these tips from Reader’s Digest to get started. (Most forwarding services can sort out and destroy junk mail for you.)
So you’ll have to choose the best mail forwarding method for your situation, but, with a little bit of planning it’s pretty easy to get your mail as a full time RVer. That’s it for now. Stay safe and have fun out there. See you somewhere down the road.
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We’ve been full-time RVers since 2012. Over 127,000 miles and 47 states later, we are still towing our home around the United States.
On TowingHome we share what we have learned along the way; what we love (and what we don’t) about the RV lifestyle, tips and tricks, our favorite campgrounds, places and gear.
We hope that it makes your journey a little bit easier.