Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mail Call

mailing envelopes and amazon packages on an RV sofa
Mail Call
How do we (and other full-time RVers) get our mail when we're traveling all the time?

Well, some folks rely on the kindness of family members to forward packages and mail, but for those of us who are full-timers....that may not always be the best solution.

Some rely on a basic mail forwarding service while they have there own permanent/physical address to use. I know of some snowbirds who do this.

Some will check with the local post office to see if they can pick up mail there via general delivery. (via forwarding or shipments) Handy if you're boondocking or staying in a public campground with no office staff. Just check with that local post office first...some do not offer that service.

And others, like us, work with a company that not only forwards our mail, it also provides us with an official, legal residential street address for additional items like voter and vehicle registration, insurance, etc...

There are a couple of major players is that last category. Escapees (based in Texas and Florida) and America's Mailbox (in South Dakota). Since we're South Dakota residents already, we chose to use America's Mailbox. It made for a very easy transition. I'll talk about getting mail from that aspect.

So, once we joined America's Mailbox, we were assigned a PMB #. We put some funds on deposit with them to forward our mail. When we want it sent (and we pick times for that when we know we'll be stationary for a week or so), we just contact them and they send it out to wherever we are and however we tell them to ship it (i.e. Overnight, regular, etc...) If we're in the Black Hills, like with our upcoming work camping gig, we just let them know in advance when we'll be in to pick it up.

That takes care of our basic postal mail.

Chris got his new keyboard on a very chilly day
while we were in Denton, TX 
Packages are another story. We do a lot with Amazon Prime. (I can't find my chai tea just anywhere ☺), and as you can see from some of our gear reviews, that was the best way for us to get what we needed or wanted.

The beauty of Amazon, we can update the shipping address to our present location. We'll take advantage of that when we're somewhere for  a week or more and stock up on items (like my chai tea), purchase gear that's not available locally, etc... That also means it comes straight to us, without going through mail forwarding service, so no additional shipping costs.

How do we make it work directly for us?

When we check in to a campground for an extended stay (one week or longer), we confirm that it's okay to receive mail there, the correct mailing address to use, and what their procedure is for getting mail to us. Some campgrounds deliver it directly to the rig, others just have it in an area for you to sort through, and some have it behind the counter for you to request, and some will call you to let you know it's arrived.

Once that's all set, we request our mail forwarding and/or place an Amazon order.

Here's where we love the technology that's now available....we can track those packages online. We give the campground office a heads up that we have something coming as a courtesy, and we try to pick it up promptly.

And then we all we have to do it wait. Package comes in, we get it. If it's gear of some kind, you find out about it too.

Oh, and an advantage with the tracking, you figure our pretty quick if something has gone AWOL en route. That happened to us with a small Amazon got lost somewhere in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. We were able to contact Amazon and they sent out a replacement right away.

So, that's basically how we, and many others on the road, do the whole mail thing.

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