Full Timers...You've Got Mail!

A concern many have before starting out on the full-time road is how they'll get their mail. Use of Internet has made this a much easier endeavor but there is always some mail that can only be received via hard copy. 

Of course, if you spend a majority of time in one Park you can usually arrange with them to receive your mail there and just inform all senders and the post office of your new address.  This often takes a little time (usually a couple weeks) so make sure you make arrangements for any mailings made before it goes into effect. 

Many who move around pretty frequently have the luxury of a friend or family member who will hold, then forward, mail for them.  This allows you to use that friend’s address for bills, etc. that you can’t get online.  Some have even used this method to establish residency in the state where that friend lives. 

Another option is a mailing service.  Good Sam, Escapees, Passport America, Mailboxes Etc., are all examples of organizations that handle mail forwarding.  They generally have a monthly or annual fee for the service, then charge the post office fees additionally for each mailing, usually sent in one of those bulk postal mailing envelopes.  They will hold your mail till you inform them where and when to forward it. 

But, in the land of no fixed addresses, how will Mr. Postman find you to deliver these packages?
Enter General Delivery. He's no military man, but he can be a Major Hit for those of us who leave our sticks and bricks homes behind. General Delivery is a service of your United States Post Office. Those who don't have a fixed address or a post office box simply have mail sent to any given town for themselves, care of General Delivery. When the mail hits the post office, postal workers set it aside to be held until you ask for it.

Here are a few tips to make your mail travel on to you a bit more smoothly:

Small towns are better...Maybe not this small
Small towns are better: While General Delivery is available for any town that has a post office, in the larger cities with more than one post office; General Delivery often goes to the downtown post office. Parking your rig may be a major issue in a busy downtown area. And if there is more than one post office in town, you'll have to find out which office receives and holds it. You’ll usually find the staff in a small town post office (PO) is generally more laid back and eager to help a stranger.  It’s a good idea, if possible, to contact the PO in advance and ask if they have any specific requirements or preferences.  Some for example, want their PO street address included on the envelope others just want the city, state and zip code.

Bring ID when fetching your mail at the PO: You'll usually be asked to provide identification when you pick up your mail. If you have an unusual name with a hyphen or a Mc or Von in front of it, if they don't find your mail on the first try, ask them to look at an alternative.  Remember, they file the general delivery mail by hand and could easily misread the envelope or just be subject to human error.
Make sure your sender(s) label the mail correctly: If married, you might want to have your sender label the mail for "John & Jackie Smith" rather than in just one name. In that way either one of you should be able to pick up the mail. 
Here's a sample addressing format:

John or Jackie Smith
General Delivery
1150 Main Street (Street address not always required-depends on the PO)
Von Ormy, TX  78073

While the post office will hold the mail for a specified time, it's not a bad idea to have the mailing labeled with a conspicuous, "Hold for Delivery." If you'll be delayed, a phone call to the post office (especially in smaller towns) may get some cooperation in holding your mail longer than the "rule" suggests.  Some small PO's will tell you via phone if your mail has arrived.  If it's quite a drive from where you are this can be helpful.  Contacting a specific post office is sometimes difficult because the phone book lists a general info government number with several automated options.
If you plan on being in a given town for an extended time, it’s best to check just how long you can use this "free" service. Some PO’s have a 30 day rule, especially in a metropolitan area or city.  If your going to be around longer you may need to rent a post office box or ask the RV Park that you’re at if they will accept your mail.

At Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio we offer mail forwarding as a complementary perk to our guests.  We only collect a reimbursement for the post office delivery fee- no monthly or annual charge for the service itself.  If you’re current guest we will accept your mail at our office and inform you immediately of its arrival.  If you visit here and are in need of a permanent mailing address, you can use our Park and we will coordinate with you as often as you like to set up forwarding your mail to the PO general delivery OR other address of your choice.  Some have opted to have us accept and hold their mail and they collect it personally on their next visit to Hidden Valley. 
Let us know if this service would be helpful to you or call us for details (210-623-6737.)

Note: Some of this information was obtained from the RV Travel Newsletter and an article by the RV traveling full time  DeMaris's. 

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