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Are you looking for some options for receiving your mail or packages while you’re on the road as a full-time RVer? I was too when I started traveling and believe it or not I found several options that have worked for me over the years.
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Family and Friends
When I first started RVing, I had a relative that would gather my mail and periodically send it to me when I asked them to. Back then, online payment plans for things like utility bills, RV insurance and credit cards was just starting to become popular so I was still getting a lot of this type of correspondence as well as an occasional item that I purchased from eBay in the mail. However, as time went by and this relative was getting on in years, I decided that I didn’t want to further inconvenience them by asking them to venture out in a snowstorm to send me a box of junk mail, bills, and Christmas cards from former clients that I hadn’t spoken to in years, down to sunny Florida or Arizona where I was probably staying that time of year. That’s when I started looking for other options.
Mail Forwarding Services
I used these services and I still do which I will explain later in this article as I tend to get a little creative when receiving packages and such. That said, mail forwarding services are companies that set up an account with you to handle your mail and packages. Your mail is sent to their physical location and you have the options of having them hold it for pickup, forward it to your current location, or send you a scanned copy.
Normally, these services require you to set up an account that includes a processing fee and an initial deposit (usually $50) for future postage fees when they forward your parcels. Keep in mind though; with these services come some additional fees. For example, while they will set you up with a box much like post offices do, they may charge you a fee for package delivery because it is their physical address and they are handling deliveries from various carriers such as the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS and then storing them for you. You should expect a fee of anywhere from $3 to $15 depending upon the size of the package.
The upside of these smaller or franchised businesses such as Mailboxes Etc. is that they can provide you with a physical address where a carrier such as UPS or FedEx can deliver a package to that location. This option works best for the RVer that is traveling around for the winter or summer season in a certain area and needs a mail service provider that can accept packages shipped to a physical address.
Another service they offer is actually scanning your mail then sending it to your email in a PDF document. Usually what they will do is scan the outside of the mail and then send an email to you for reviewing. Then you have the option of having them open it and scan its contents, save it for pickup, forward it to your location, or discard it. They will charge you various fees for these services, so be wary of how often you elect to have things scanned and emailed to you because those fees will add up in a hurry. I personally steer clear of the whole scanning and emailing because I don’t what people to have access to my private correspondence.
Join an RVing Club
There are several RVer clubs like Good Sam or Escapees RV Club that will also forward your mail as part of your membership. For me, I chose Escapees RV club because in addition to forwarding my mail, I also get discounts at hundreds of campgrounds in North America and discounts on tire purchases and other parts at select vendors that affiliate with them. Also included with my membership is a towing insurance policy, similar to AAA, where they will tow my RV for free should I have a breakdown on my travels. In a future column, I will give you some advice as to choosing a club or RVing campground memberships that will save you a lot of money as you travel.
The down side to this is that they offer no physical locations for you to personally pick up your packages or mail, so if you are having a package forwarded to your location, you will most likely be paying for shipping twice.
Get Creative Like I Do
If I am traveling through an area and I need something that I purchased from Amazon, I have on occasion used their locker delivery service. Amazon has set up some physical locations where they have a bank of lockers to have your package delivered and you simply use the code they send you after it is delivered to open the locker. They do however; limit your time to retrieve your purchase to three days after delivery so you need to be prepared in terms of your timeline. Another drawback to this service is that as yet, it has limited locations and may not be available for many of the locations you are visiting.
I like to do a little research prior to staying at campgrounds. While I love boondocking, I will oftentimes stay at campgrounds for a week or two just so I can receive mail and packages during my stay. If I see a campground online that looks like a good fit for me, I will usually call them and ask if I can have mail or packages delivered to their location. Oftentimes, if you have an established lot number the UPS or FedEx driver will deliver your package directly to your site and sometimes they will deliver your parcels to the campground office. Both of these delivery methods have worked for me and I recommend using them.
Another thing I like to utilize when at a campground for several days is companies such as Target, Walmart and Amazon. If they offer a free shipping option to my location, that’s what I’m going for. I figured out a long time ago that I preferred having the UPS or FedEx driver cart the 40 pound bag of dog food to my door over me doing it.
The options are nearly endless when figuring out what best works for you and your mail and package delivery. However, when you do find the solution that works best, you will be proud of the efforts it took to get to that solution.