6 Ways to Get Mail When You Are Full-Time RVing
6 Ways to Get Mail When You Are Full-Time RVing
From setting up a new address to Amazon lockers.
By:Jessie & Ashley Segura
Whether you part-time RV or you’re a brand-new full-time RVer, you need to get your mail. Business goes on as usual whether you’re living in your Winnebago or a house, and mail is part of that routine.
Jessie and I send postcards to 30 different friends and family members from each National Park we visit, so naturally, we are asked a ton if we can receive mail back from those family and friends. Most of the time, we would send them an “updated” and “temporary” address, and occasionally we wouldn’t have an address to give at all. This tends to be fairly common for RVers, but there are ways around the mail headache.
With the busiest gift-giving season upon us, here are a few different steps to receiving mail when you don’t have a permanent address.
1. Update Your Mailing Address Before Full-Time RVing
A month before we departed, we went to the post office and updated our mailing address. We technically didn’t have a house anymore after getting rid of the home, vehicles, and belongings, so we reached out to our sister-in-law and my parents to ask if we could update our mailing address to their houses.
You definitely don’t want to let mail go to your now-rented-out house or get sent back. So, at the very least, you can set up your mail to be held at the post office or do a temporary address change for those shorter one-to-three-month getaways. Avoid the excessively long lines at the post office and file online for a temporary address change and/or to have your mail held.
As long as you have a minimal amount of mail coming in and really nice family/friends who are willing to collect and share the mail with you, it’s best to update your mailing address to a family member/friend’s house. This is especially true if you’re planning on full-timing in an RV for at least six months to a year. Check with your local post office to learn exactly what you need to do to update your address and use this guide from the post office as a resource.
Note: If you still want to vote in your specific county and need to change your mailing address to a new city and/or state, keep in mind that changing your mailing address may have an effect on your voting. Check with your local post office to see if the city you’re changing your mailing address to will affect your voting privileges.
2. Forward Your Mail to People You’re Comfortable With and Trust
Since we updated our mailing address to my parents and sister-in-law’s houses, we tend to rely on them for any big mail updates. That means once a month we schedule a special FaceTime session with them and go over all of our mail.
Trash it, take a photo of it, or keep it are usually the general requests. Anything urgent, or at least looks urgent, they’re kind enough to text us right away sending a photo of the letter/package. In order to make something like this work, we chose to have our mail sent to the people we trust most, the people we don’t mind opening up and potentially seeing a “late” bill, medical information or a personal piece of mail.
If you choose to go this route, make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the receiving party and have a general idea of what kind of mail they’ll be expected to receive. Not everyone will appreciate your magazine subscriptions as much as you do.
We’re extra lucky to have family members who don’t mind taking the time and collecting our mail for us, but we also don’t have tons of mail being sent and definitely don’t have any magazine subscriptions coming to them. Before we left, we tried to minimize our mail as much as possible, moving to paperless on a majority of our subscriptions (see paperless tips below).
If you don’t have resources like extra kind family or friends to rely on doing something like this, then we suggest setting up a PO Box for each city that you’re in.
3. Set Up a PO Box
This is realistic and easy to do if you’ll be staying in one city (or close to it) for at least a month. If you’re moving around weekly, setting up a PO Box will be more costly and time-consuming than it’s worth.
For those staying at one place for at least a month, you can set up a PO Box with these easy-to-follow steps:
- Google a PO Box location near you. Yes, it’s that simple and no, you don’t have to be from that city or state to sign up for one. Choose one that you know you’ll easily be able to access as you’ll have to visit the box about once a week. You can find a location near you using Google or by checking with the post office.
- Determine the right box size you’ll need. For those who get loads of mail and packages, you’ll want a box that is sure to fit everything and not irritate the lovely post office crew each time another large package arrives. Unsure of what's big and what’s small for a box? Here’s the breakdown from USPS.
- Reserve your new PO Box and tell everyone about it. Once you’ve signed up for your box, either online or in-person, it’s now time to update your mailing address to friends, families, and all of your lovely subscription, billing, and business services.
Here are a few places to start updating your address:
- Cell phone provider
- Auto / RV insurance
- Auto / RV loan company
- Costco, Amazon, and other membership services
- Bank and credit card companies
- Service providers like your family doctor
- Utility bills (if you still have a home)
4. Sign Up for Professional Mail Forwarding
This can be a costly service, but those who move too much for PO Boxes and don’t have resources at home to forward their mail to, this may be your best and only option. With this option, all of your mail is forwarded to a professional company who then scans your mail and provides you with updates.
I know it sounds a little scary, but it really is a great option for the nomad lifestyle and can avoid putting the burden on family/friends, dealing with constant PO Box updates, or leaving your mail with the Post office.
When searching for the right mail forwarding service, ask the provider the following questions:
- Do they scan the mail for you?
- Do they send photos of each piece of mail?
- What do they do with the mail after they’ve updated you? Shred? Recycle?
- Do they charge per weight, volume, or monthly/annual fees?
- Do they have phone support available 24/7?
You’ll want to know the answer to each of these questions and be 100% comfortable with the response, especially since there are tons of mail forwarding providers out there and not all of them are to be trusted.
Escapees Mail Service is a common one used by RVers. Read why the Phillips decided to use them for mail forwarding as well as for their services with setting up a domicile (helpful for those of you who need an address for your driver’s license and for government paperwork, like taxes).
5. Send Mail to Your RV Park
This option is not always an option. Most RV parks are completely fine with 1-2 pieces of mail arriving during your stay and will even deliver mail for you. Some long-term RV parks even have a mailbox on-site that you can reserve and collect mail in.
Others get pretty irritated and have a hard NO policy when it comes to getting mail or deliveries to the RV park. Whenever we check into a new RV park, we always check with the host to see what their policy is.
Even if we aren’t expecting mail during that stay, the moment we find out we can have Amazon packages delivered is the moment I pull up the Amazon app and start ordering all of those supplies we’ve been needing.
I’d say about 30-40% of the RV parks we’ve gone to say no to any mail coming to the park due to excessive amounts of packaging arriving daily, no one picking up their boxes on time, and feeling like a mail facility rather than an RV park. All totally understandable reasons for an RV park to not allow receiving mail.
Play it safe and ask the host when you arrive, and if they do say yes, just be respectful and don’t go overboard with those Amazon orders. Always be respectful of RV parks.
6. Amazon Hub Locker
Aside from groceries, we practically live off of Amazon. All of our supplies - even things like shampoo and conditioner - generally get shipped in from Amazon. Since we move a ton and come across some RV parks that don’t allow mail delivered, we’ve started using Amazon lockers.
As long as your belongings come in small packages (and not full-size rugs like we tried to order), Amazon lockers are a perfect happy-medium to receiving packages and supplies.
It’s SO easy to use an Amazon locker. Just add what you need to your Amazon cart and when it comes time for the delivery address, add an Amazon locker location. I always check the locations before getting to that step, so there’s a lot less backtracking and you can copy and paste the address in.
Usually, the lockers we end up going to are at WholeFoods locations, but they have independent lockers (stand-alone lockers not inside another business) near the larger cities.
Bonus Tip: Reduce Your Mail - Go Paperless
The biggest and best thing you can do when you start full-time RVing is to reduce the amount of mail delivered. Most businesses, especially cell phone and credit card companies, give you the option to go paperless. You can sign up online in your “profile” section of your account and choose to stop getting mail.
It’s also time to say goodbye to all of those magazines, monthly subscription boxes, and coupons you receive on the regular. I know it’s hard, but this will just clutter up your mail whether you’re receiving it at an RV park, mail forwarding provider, PO Box, or family member’s house.
Full-time RVing is all about living minimal, so start with your mail and minimize what you’re signed up to receive.
How do you prefer to receive mail on the road?