Getting Your Mail While Full Time RVing
By Steven Fletcher
These days full time RVers as well those on the road for extended periods have it good when it comes to keeping in touch with family and friends and taking care of the business part of day to day living. Cellular phones and the internet are great for regular communications just about anywhere.
Fran and I rely mainly on email for communications with folks 'back home' and the people we meet on the road. We pay most of our bills online and use direct deposit when we can, but we still need the United States Postal Service (USPS). There's just no getting along without it.
All our snail mail goes to a Private Mail Box (PMB) at a business in Yuba City, California. Yuba City is our 'home base' where we spend several months a year. When we're in Yuba City we stop by the mailing service and collect our mail once or twice a week.
When we're on the road RVing our mail is held for us until we call or email the service with an address to which it can be forwarded. The mailing service puts all the mail from our mail box into a large Priority Mail envelope and mails it to that address.
Many RV parks and resorts do not accept mail for guests so we almost always have our mail forwarded in care of General Delivery to the post offices in the towns nearest the parks where we'll be staying. Zip codes are important and you can find them at USPS.com.
One thing you need to know is that General Delivery always goes to the MAIN post office in a town. If the town is large that usually means the post office 'down town' which may not be all that convenient. If you can, choose a small community nearby to have your mail sent to. It will be easier to get to especially if you driving your rig. An RV park that does not accept mail will most likely be able to tell you the best post office for General Delivery.
The post office will hold general delivery mail for 30 days so there is leeway as to when you must claim it. We try to time it pretty close and usually can pick up our mail the day it arrives but sometimes we're too early and it hasn't arrived yet. And sometimes, if the post office is several miles away, we'll wait an extra day just to make sure our mail has arrived.
Priority Mail works fine for us and we normally receive our big envelope within three days (four max but this is only in remote places). Knowing when our mail will arrive allows for the close timing. If there is a need to receive the mail quicker then overnight mail is always an option but that can get expensive.
When looking for a mailing service your primary concern is to find a service that's reliable. One that's been in business for a long time and is likely to stay in business. You don't want them going out of business while you're thousands of miles away. And changing addresses for all your contacts isn't much fun. But finding the right one will give you great peace of mind.
The right service will provide a personal mail box and be happy to forward your mail to you. It is important to make sure the service understands some basics about your lifestyle. Some services do not understand about RVing and are set up only to forward mail on a regular schedule to one address. Be sure it is understood that you are not always in one place and the address may always be different. They should understand that your mail is to be held until you call and provide a current address for forwarding and that you may not call on a regular schedule.
If you can't find an actual mail forwarding service in your town look for a business that offers Private Mail Boxes or one that offers other kinds of business services. It may be possible that one of these will be willing to do it for you once you have explained what you need.
It isn't necessary that the mailing service you choose is in a place where you spend a lot of time, but that does make it more convenient in retrieving your mail while you are staying there and reduces the mailing cost as well.
Many Full time RVers who are members of the Escapees RV Club use the club's excellent forwarding service which is in Livingston Texas. However, where your mailing address is may make a difference if maintaining residency in a particular state is important to you. The Escapees club (Escapees.com) can provide you with some good information about choosing a residency state and what is involved.
Good communication with the mailing service can also save some postage costs. When Fran calls our service and they are not super busy at their counter they will sort through our mail and pitch the junk mail that we don't need to have forwarded. They will also hold a package (our UPS, Fed Ex, etc. deliveries go there) if we are due back in the area soon, or until we can get a relative to pick it up.
NOTE: If you're thinking about asking a relative or friend to forward your mail there are a few things to seriously consider. If they have to drive across town to pick up your mail at your house or P.O. Box you'll burn them out fast... after two or three mailings reliability may drop off.
Some Full Time RVers do use a relative or friend but in the cases I know of the mail is sent to the relative's address so that person need only put it all into a large envelope and make the trip to the post office once a week. Still it is a burden that few people will want do for long. If you have a relative that's willing to do it for you make sure you remember them on their birthday and at Christmas!
You may also want to read: Get Your Mail While RV Traveling