rural mailboxes to remind you of times before you had to figure out how to get mail when traveling
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As nomads, we can’t walk to our mailbox and collect our mail. Figuring out how to get mail when on the road traveling is one of the bigger headaches of full time RV life. We explain our tested tips and tricks to easily get mail including everything you need to know about mailbox management and delivery options.

To learn more about how we are able to travel full-time, check out the About Us page.

Table of Contents

How to get mail if you live in an RV?

When we tell people that we travel full-time, they often ask about the logistics. The most common questions are about how we handle health insurance, income taxes, and mail. It’s amusing how many people want to know how to get mail if you live in an RV.

Since moving into our RV in 2018, we’ve tried multiple methods to receive mail on the road. Some attempts have been more successful than others. After some trial and error, we’re happy with our mail solution. Hopefully, our experiences will help others figure out how to get mail on the road.

If you want to know more of the details about our full time RV life, check out What Everyone Wants to Know about Full Time RV Living: Top 23 Questions We Get Asked.

Prepare to Get Mail with No Fixed Address

Nomads with no fixed address can still get mail but it takes a little more work to prepare. We’ve found a two part solution is the easiest way to manage letters and packages.

The two parts of our mail system are mailbox management and delivery.

First, you’ll need to find a solution to manage the mail. Basically, this means someone who is willing to serve as your mailbox when you are on the road traveling. For simplicity, I call this mailbox management. Skip to mailbox management.

Second, you’ll need a delivery method to receive mail while on the road. This is the way your mail will find its way to your hands when you do not live at a fixed address. Skip to delivery options.

Part 1 to Get Mail on the Road: Mailbox Management

Our mail doesn’t arrive consistently so we need an address that works even when we aren’t expecting mail. We know when to expect packages or bills but we have no idea when a jury summons will surprise us. There are a few options for mailbox management and prices and hassle levels vary.

1. Go Paperless & Set Up Auto Pay

Going paperless and setting up auto pay should be the first step for everyone trying to get mail on the road with no fixed address.

Auto Pay

TIP: The easiest way to handle converting your bills to autopay is to monitor your current mail for items that can be received electronically. Convert each one to paperless auto pay as you receive them.

If you are comfortable setting up auto pay, it’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss any important renewal deadlines.

We use a credit card to autopay our monthly bills like insurance, cellular phones and TV service. It works great for us because we earn 2% cashback on our bills. Make sure if you are using credit cards to pay the balance in full each month to avoid fees.

Paperless

Every time you get a bill in your mailbox, take a few minutes to go online and elect paperless billing.

Less paper and delivery fuel save our planet’s precious natural resources.

Plus, it also saves you the hassle of trying to get a hard copy of an important document when it could have been in your email inbox weeks ago.

We have gone paperless for everything possible and only request our mail about once every 4-8 weeks. Our mail usually includes a few important documents that we’ve already received via email.

Occasionally, we get notices from government entities that do not offer email delivery such as jury summons or IRS notifications. We immediately act on these and let them know we’re traveling and have just received the notice. Thus far, we’ve not had any major issues with missed deadlines.

2. Friends and Family Assistance

If you have willing friends or family, they can receive your mail while you are on the road traveling. This is a free, easy solution to mailbox management. However it can become a burden for your friends and family members if done long-term or for a large volume of mail.

It’s pretty easy. Use your friends’ or family members’ mailing addresses and send all correspondence directly to their mailbox. They can either forward everything in batches or review the items individually before forwarding.

While living in London, we relied on Kevin’s mom to provide stateside mailbox management. She and our niece rented our house for the three years we lived overseas. So we just continued to send mail to our US home address while we were away.

About once a month, Kevin’s mom would call and open our mail with us on the phone. If she saw anything important, she would immediately scan and email it to us. During our mail review calls, we would tell her which items to trash, scan, or save for us. This was a hassle for her but we appreciated her help.

Forwarding mail to the UK would have been prohibitively expensive and her assistance saved us a lot of money and trouble.

2. Mail Forwarding Service and Virtual Mailbox

Since going full-time in our RV, we decided to utilize a professional mail forwarding service provider to manage our mail. We do not have an end date for our travel and didn’t want to burden friends or family with managing our mailbox indefinitely.

USPS Mail Forwarding

The United States Postal Service offers temporary mail forwarding services for those moving to a new location. All mail will be forwarded from an old address to a single new address for six months.

This would not work for us since we don’t have a single fixed new address. We move constantly. Instead, we needed a longer-term solution like those offered by professional mail forwarding services.

Can I have mail forwarded on vacation?

If you do not travel full time, you may be looking for a more short-term mail solution. USPS mail forwarding can be used to send mail from your home address to a vacation address but it has limitations. USPS forwarding requests can take up to 2 weeks to take effect which means it would be a poor solution for vacations less than one month long.

For shorter trips, I recommend a vacation hold since most mail can wait until you return from vacation. All mail will be held at the post office and delivered upon your return. Vacation holds can be requested in advance and can be utilized up to 30 days at a time.

What happens to mail when I go on vacation?

If you do not notify the United States Postal Service, they will continue to deliver mail while you are on vacation. It will stack up in your mailbox notifying everyone that you aren’t around. If you file a vacation hold request, the mail will be held at the local post office branch until you return from vacation.

san diego beach

Escapees Mail Forwarding and Virtual Mailbox Services

Escapees RV Club offers a mail forwarding service that helps us reduce the headache of getting mail while traveling full time.

Texas, Florida and South Dakota addresses are offered through Escapees mail forwarding service. These states are the most popular domicile (home states) for full time RVers because they do not have a state income tax.

They also offer virtual mailbox services for travelers and online businesses. Virtual mailbox service providers open and scan all mail to save you time and money.

Escapees RV Club Membership

To use the mail forwarding service, you must be a member of the Escapees RV club. This is a great problem in my opinion.

If you aren’t a member consider joining to meet new friends, attend fun events and learn about current challenges faced by the RV community. They even lobby for RV-friendly legislation such as mail-in voting.

The club’s Xscapers sub-group for working-age RVers is an integral part of our social networking while on the road. All of our best RV friends are Xscapers because it’s that awesome.

xscapers blogger button

Even if we did not use their mail forwarding service, we’d still be Escapees members.

In addition to their mail services, we love the educational and social aspects of our Escapees membership.

How much does it cost to join Escapees RV club?

Considering a membership but are wondering how much it costs to join Escapees, it’s $50 per household. Mail service fees are in addition to annual club membership costs.

If you sign up for Escapees using our link, we will get a small referral reward. Using our referral link costs you nothing extra and will help fund our future adventures.

It’s a great way to say thanks for the free RV travel information we share on Trying to Unwind and it doesn’t cost you anything.

Sign Me Up for Escapees Now

How does mail forwarding work?

The Escapee mail service facility in Texas receives our mail and holds it for us. Whenever we want to get our mail, we log into our online account and request it.

For additional fees, they will open and scan our mail. However, we choose to have our mail held and shipped to us. It is cheaper and we have paperless billing for everything so we don’t miss anything.

Unless we are expecting something specific like car tags, we only order our mail every few months. We pay postage and they send it to us whenever and wherever we want. When making the request, we provide our current address for delivery.

Skip to the 6 Best Options for Mail Delivery to learn what address we use to get mail on the road.

How much does Escapees mail service costs?

In 2020, we spent $140 for our Escapees mail service including the annual service costs and all postage fees. Your costs will vary based on the delivery method you choose and the services you request.

TIP: Scanning mail and requesting overnight delivery costs more. We only need the basic mail forwarding service since all of our important accounts are paperless..

Escapees Mail Forwarding Service in Texas

In 2018, we visited the Escapess Livingston Texas mail service facility. They provide mail service for thousands of nomadic households and small businesses including RVers and boaters.

Their daily mail volume is so large they are treated as a post office by the United States Postal Service. They have their own zip code and receive daily deliveries from a USPS 18-wheeler truck.

While chatting with a Yellowstone camp host, he explained he was a full-time RVer domiciled in Texas. We smiled and said, “us too”. Without any further preamble, he told us his zip code, 77399. I laughed because it was like a secret code. 77399 is the Escapees zip code.

Best Mail Forwarding and Virtual Mailbox Service for RVers

We think Escapees is one of the best mail forwarding service providers for RVers domiciled in Texas.

We appreciate that Escapees and their local government, Polk County Texas, understand the needs of full time RV owners on the road traveling. We have missed jury duty due to delayed mail and Polk County understood and deferred our jury duty while we were away. It also helps that Texas doesn’t have a state income tax.

There are several other mail forwarding service providers that offer similar services including virtual mailbox options.

Other Mail Forwarding and Virtual Mailbox Options

A few others we have heard of but have not used are:

For additional fees, most mail forwarding services also offer virtual mailbox services. They will open and scan your mail.

We met a nomadic small business owner that deposits scanned client checks without ever receiving the actual check. Some virtual mailbox services will even deposit checks to your bank account. Services vary in prices based on the provider.

Part 2: Mail Delivery

Once you have a mailbox management solution, the next step is mail delivery. Occasionally, you will need to have mail delivered to your location. Obviously, to receive mail you must be stationary long enough for it to arrive or plan ahead.

As you may already know, we are minimalists and don’t buy a lot of consumer goods. However, our shopping list usually has at least one RV part that can’t easily be found at a brick-and-mortar store.

6 Best Options for Mail Delivery

There are several delivery options to receive mail when you are on the road. Not having a fixed location, makes things a bit more complicated.

We’ve detailed Six Options for Mail Delivery including ways to get packages and letters. Unfortunately, none of these options work all of the time.

TRICK: You’ll need use a mix of these options to get mail delivered on the road.

mailman photo

#1 General Delivery

We normally use the general delivery service offered by the USPS to get our mail forwarded from Escapees when on the road traveling.

I have been successful in using General Delivery to get our mail delivered on the road. We have friends who have had mail lost or severely delayed. I believe many of these issues would have been avoided by following the local branch policies.

TIP: I always call the local post office directly before sending anything. This also helps us ensure we follow their location’s policies to prevent delivery delays or failures.

What is USPS General Delivery?

USPS General Delivery means mail is delivered to the post office and held behind the counter for those without a mailbox in the area.

The post office will hold General Delivery mail at participating local branches for up to 30 days. Not all USPS locations offer General Delivery services and those that do have specific procedures. The specific limitations can only be determined by calling the location directly.

Tips & Tricks for USPS General Delivery

It can be tricky to find the direct phone number for a local post office. The USPS is understaffed and answering the phone is annoying for stressed counter clerks. I try to make my calls short and friendly.

To find the direct phone number for a local post office, use the online USPS Location Finder tool. The screenshot below shows an example of a direct phone number for a post office using the online tool.

Before sending any mail to a local post office for USPS general delivery, I call the post office and ask the following questions:

  • Do you accept General Delivery?
  • Are there restrictions on the type of mail you will accept (Amazon packages, UPS or FedEx packages)?
  • Can mail be picked up during all business hours? (busier locations restrict General Delivery pickup to specific hours)
  • Where can I pick up my mail? (some larger cities have multiple locations and only offer General Delivery at one)
  • How should mail be addressed for General Delivery? (some locations want the street address included and others do not)

How to get packages delivered

Standard mail (USPS letters) is one of the easier aspects of being nomadic. General delivery is available in many locations and costs nothing. The system is already in place and fairly easy to navigate once you have experience using General Delivery.

However, packages and online orders can be a lot more troublesome since most post offices offering general delivery will only accept packages mailed via USPS. You rarely have control or even knowledge of which carrier a vendor will use to ship your order.

#2 Amazon Lockers

Amazon lockers and hub counters will receive and hold deliveries for most items sold on Amazon.com. Some oversized products or third-party items might not be eligible to ship to a pickup location. The Amazon app is very clear if the selected locker cannot accept your package.

How to find a Amazon Locker

I find the Amazon app to be easier than the website to add and remove locker locations. Go into my account and find my addresses. At the top of your address list is the option to add a new pick-up location. Use this option to find new lockers and hub counters along your route.

Our Experience using Amazon Lockers for Mail on the Road

While based in Dallas long-term, we used Amazon lockers regularly. Since we started traveling full time, we have struggled to find Amazon locker locations in rural areas.

So when we know we will be in a metropolitan area with delivery options for all types of packages, we take full advantage to place online orders. Amazon is one of the faster and easier options for online orders.

Amazon lockers are a great option in urban areas for Amazon.com purchases. Packages must be collected within 48-72 hours but the process is contactless and easy. Pick-up guidelines are clearly stated before placing your order on Amazon.

amazon locker
Photo Credit: Amazon

#3 Mailbox Stores

Mailbox or UPS stores will accept and hold packages in most locations however they do charge nominal fees. Some people enjoy the convenience enough to pay the premium.

We’ve paid $1 to $5 for packages usually based on size. Consider this when placing Amazon orders because they often times split items into multiple boxes and ship separately. My frugal soul screams inside when thinking about paying a $5 fee to receive an item from Amazon worth less than $10.

#4 Campground

As a service to their guests, some campgrounds accept mail deliveries.

Some have large mailrooms that are self-service or some resorts even offer front door delivery to your rig. This depends a lot on the size and staff at each park. If you have an upcoming campground stay, call ahead and ask about mail services.

Can you get mail delivered to an RV park?

It depends. Always call ahead to see if you can get mail delivered to an RV park before providing the address to anyone.

In popular snowbird areas like Yuma Arizona, we’ve found some campgrounds and RV parks accept packages for non-guests for a small fee. This is ideal when boondocking.

#5 Deliver to Friend or Family Homes

I know this seems like a repeat of the mailbox management section. But I can’t exclude friends and family as an option for package deliveries on the road.

If planning to visit friends or family en-route, it is very convenient to ship packages to them. There are no limitations, restrictions or hidden fees.

We do ship mail to friends and family addresses along our route whenever possible. Using a friend or family address to receive mail deliveries while on the road is easy and free. Plus, you can ship oversized or heavy items that can’t be sent to other delivery locations.

Always Ask Permission First

Kevin’s brother in Denver was kind enough to accept delivery of a large RV filter and a new cellular phone when we were in Colorado. Our friends have accepted all kinds of heavy and odd-shaped packages for us.

It’s common sense but always ask permission before shipping items to someone else’s address. This serves two purposes, courtesy and awareness. They can keep an eye out for expected deliveries. And they can share any quirks you need to know about their home mail service.

#6 Ship to Store

Some large chains such as Walmart or REI, allow online orders to be shipped to their branch locations for free. This will only work if the store has a location near your future route.

Orders should be placed in advance to allow delivery to align with your visit. It can be a hassle to visit multiple stores to pick up orders. However, ordering online is much easier than visiting multiple stores searching for specialty items such as bike parts.

Summary

In conclusion, getting mail when traveling can be a hassle but with some planning and preparation, it’s manageable. The most impactful trick is to go paperless for everything possible. Mail service companies can also simplify the process. We hope our tested tips and tricks save you some headaches.

mailboxes and lines at post office

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