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Anyone who travels with any frequency at all understands the concern about receiving mail. The ability to receive mail, including packages, is a pretty big deal when you’re on the road. In fact, one of the questions we’re frequently asked as long-time full-timers is what RV mail forwarding services we’ve used or recommend. It’s an understandable question to ask a couple of guys who’ve lived in, and run several business enterprises from, an RV, full time, for nearly two decades.
This is no small matter, especially for anyone who receives important items like medications by mail when they’re traveling.
So, in today’s post, we’re breaking down the subject of RV mail forwarding systems. We’ll discuss how best to get your mail forwarded to you, how you can receive packages on the road, how RV mail forwarding systems work, and how much they cost. We’ll also give you a rundown of five of the most popular RV mail forwarding services currently available.
Let’s talk snail mail!
How Do I Forward My Mail While Traveling?
Depending on how long you plan to be traveling, any one of several options could work for you. It would seem to go without saying, but if you’re traveling for a relatively short duration, the best short-term solution might be to ask someone you trust to check your mailbox for you.
If you’re traveling to a single destination – say you’re heading to “your usual snowbird spot” in the south or southwest for the winter, for example – you can have your local post office forward all of your mail to that location while you’re there (check out the U.S.P.S. Premium Mail Forwarding Service).
Another option for folks on the road for a shorter/limited duration, but not in a single destination, is to have packages sent via the U.S.P.S. using “General Delivery”. What this means is that you can receive mail at many US Post Offices throughout the country by having it sent to your name, ℅ (“in care of”) General Delivery, and the address of the post office itself. The post office in that location will hold your mail until you arrive at that location. Upon your arrival, you’ll show ID to confirm your identity and collect your package.
This is a good option for limited use, but there are some limitations to General Delivery, especially if you have longer-term needs (like we do).
You’ll need to check with each individual post office directly to confirm that they offer General Delivery as an option (not all do, especially in popular snowbird destinations, since the volume of General Delivery mail would be overwhelming). You’ll also want to confirm how long they’ll hold your mail/package for you. This is very important because some post offices will hold mail for no more than 30 days, after which they’ll return the mail to the sender.
So, for anything other than limited use, and especially for long-term travelers and full-timers, a dedicated RV mail forwarding service is the way to go.
What Are RV Mail Forwarding Services?
RV mail forwarding services are a far more reliable way for folks living on the road or traveling for an extended period to receive packages and mail.
Mail forwarding services essentially offer a permanent address to which your mail and packages can be sent, generally a P.O. box or a street address linked to your account. Postal services will send your packages and mail to this address, and your mail forwarding service handles them and can forward them to you as directed. Some mail forwarding services offer more advanced options that allow you to deal with your mail from wherever you are, as you’ll see in our run-down of the five best RV mail forwarding systems in our opinion.
How Do RV Mail Forwarding Services Work?
Depending on the mail forwarding service you choose, postal carriers will have your packages and mail delivered to the service address provided by your mail forwarding service.
Some forwarding services will hold and automatically forward your mail for you on a regular schedule – junk mail included – but some offer a number of additional conveniences such as scanning the front of each envelope and uploading them to an encrypted server you can check whenever you have internet access. Once you’ve viewed what each mail item is, you can give further instructions for what happens next with each piece of mail (open it & scan the contents, shred it, recycle it, send it to me, etc.).
Because all mail forwarding systems work a bit differently and offer differing combinations of options, we’ll cover them in more detail below in our overview of five of the best services. Just be aware that it’s important to clearly confirm services with the company you’re considering using prior to having them handle your mail.
Who Needs an RV Mail Forwarding Service?
Anyone who travels to a variety of locations throughout the year is a great candidate for the benefits of a mail forwarding service. This includes full-time RVers like us, part-time nomads, and anyone who travels for a significant stretch of time, even for a single trip.
Obviously, it’s best (for a whole lot of reasons) never to allow mail to accumulate in your mailbox for an extended period of time. But if you’re traveling for a week or two, asking a neighbor to collect your mail is certainly a reasonable solution.
Also, the USPS generally only holds mail for up to 30 days and packages for up to 15 days, after which they’ll be returned to the sender. So these are only short-term options.
And finally, if you’re someone who has your mail held, forwarded to a relative, or forwarded to a campground or RV park, it’s very important to remember that there are certain types of mail that will only be mailed to your address of domicile. These would include things like tax-related mail, vehicle registrations, and any other official state or federal mail, credit and debit cards, and some banking information. Most mail like this can’t be forwarded to a relative or to an RV park, but a mail forwarding service can handle this type of mail for you, and make sure that you receive it in a timely fashion.
How Much Does an RV Mail Forwarding Service Cost?
The service fees for RV mail forwarding services vary widely, as do billing practices.
Some services offer an annual fee for services offered, while others charge a monthly fee based on the particular services you choose. These might include options such as mail forwarding to your location, check depositing, scanning of the envelopes and contents of your mail, and shredding/recycling of mail at your direction.
In general, costs can range anywhere from a $10 monthly fee for the most basic of services up to $50 a month for the most advanced services. Service fees are in addition to the shipping costs associated with forwarding any mail or packages to you.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the most popular RV mail forwarding services for more detailed information.
The 5 Most Popular RV Mail Forwarding Services
Because there are so many full-time RVers and others living an equally nomadic lifestyle these days, the competition for mail forwarding services has grown considerably. It’s a supply and demand thing, as always. The demand has increased exponentially, and the supply of mail forwarding options – and the services they offer – have increased accordingly.
With this in mind, here are five of the top options available to you, should you be interested in taking advantage of a mail forwarding service.
This mail forwarding service is number one for us based on our own excellent experience with them to date. We love Anytime Mailbox. They offer addresses all over North America, including in many of the domicile states that are commonly chosen by full-time RVers and other nomads (Florida, South Dakota, and Texas).
You simply set up long-term mail forwarding to Anytime Mailbox. Then, when new mail comes in (from the U.S.P.S., UPS, FedEX or any other carrier), they scan the envelope/package and alert you to the arrival of new mail.
You login via the web or using the iOS/Android smartphone app and take a look at your mail. From there you can direct Anytime Mail to perform any number of tasks: open, scan, and upload the contents to you; shred it; recycle it; or forward the mail to you wherever you are (or will be).
Rates are reasonable, beginning at $4.98/month, depending on the state, mailbox, and services chosen. 1350 locations were available at the time of the writing of this post.
We can attest to the excellent service offered by Anytime Mailbox, and we highly recommend them based on our own experience. For us, the ability to have mail opened and scanned precludes us from needing to forward it most of the time. The majority of the mail we receive just needs to be read… we don’t need to have the original copy of it in hand. Even documents we may need to sign and return can be scanned and then digitally signed on our computer.
You can use this link to check locations, options, and prices, and to sign up for Anytime Mailbox.
You may be familiar with the Escapees RV Club, a very well-known and highly-regarded organization within the RV community that’s been around since 1978. Escapees RV Club offers a number of benefits for its members including events, advocacy services, discounts (now including tires), and a support network for RVers. Since 1985, they’ve also offered a mail forwarding service. If you’re already a member of Escapees RV Club, this may be a good option for you.
Escapees mail forwarding service offers mail forwarding with a unique street address, and a variety of plans that include online account access and addresses in Florida, Texas, and South Dakota. They accept packages from FedEx and UPS. You can schedule your mail forwarding through Escapees, or simply arrange for forwarding on request.
The three main service tiers are as follows:
- Category A – all mail types ($95/year)
- Category B – selected mail types ($115/year)
- Category C – custom mail sorting ($135/year)
Additionally, for $10/month you can view your mail online (envelopes and content), and destroy mail online.
For all categories, you’ll pay a $50 postage deposit for forwarding. That, plus the $50 general Escapees annual membership fee, adds $100 to each of the annual fees of the categories noted above.
To join Escapees RV Club, click here.
FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) is an amazing travel club for RVers offering multiple benefits and discounts (we’ve used their tire discount before) along with education, advocacy, roadside service, an emergency medical evacuation program, multiple RV communities based on commonalities shared by RVers, and much more, including – you guessed it! – RV mail forwarding services.
FMCA organizes social gatherings and activities, supports the political and legislative interests of RVers, and advocates for the legal rights of RV owners. With 400 chapters and 500,000 members across the United States and Canada, FMCA is a strong presence for RVers.
FMCA’s mail forwarding service, called America’s Mailbox, allows you to get your mail on your own schedule. It can be scheduled to go out weekly, monthly, annually, or daily. Mail is shipped wherever you want by any method you choose, including USPS, FedEx, and UPS.
But America’s Mailbox is not just for RVers. The service is used by anyone who travels including truckers, traveling doctors and nurses, airline crews, Merchant Marines, and many others.
If you’d like more information on America’s Mailbox, click here, and if you’re interested in joining FMCA (for the variety of other benefits they offer), use this link and discount code RVGA2 to save $10 on initial membership.
St. Brendan’s Isle (SBI), founded in 1988 for a few folks on live-aboard cruisers, is now a very popular service among RVers as well. Based in Florida, this is not only a worldwide mail forwarding service, but it can also assist full-timers with the process of establishing domicile in the State of Florida.
SBI allows you to choose a “Traditional Mail Service” (receiving physical mail) or a “Virtual Mail Service” (viewing digital images of your mail). Either way, you also have the option of putting your account into “inactive status”, a particularly great feature for part-time/seasonal/snowbird travelers who don’t have need of the address all year.
Once you’ve joined SBI, you’re given a Florida street address, which is important if you want to receive packages from UPS, FedEx, and DHL, none of which will deliver to a P.O. box.
SBI is not only for RVers but for anyone needing a mail forwarding service. They offer three options including the Travelers Special ($13.99/month), which is the best choice for RVers. Online access to your mail is available 24 hours a day, and St. Brendan’s Isle offers optimal security at all levels of their business.
Dakota Post was established to support U.S. citizens who don’t have a permanent residence, assisting them in establishing domicile in South Dakota to take advantage of some great tax benefits as a South Dakota resident.
They operate a mail forwarding service in South Dakota that includes virtual mail forwarding ($19/month) and traditional mail forwarding ($13/month).
With virtual mail forwarding, you’ll have 24/7 access to your mail online. You’ll log in to your online portal, take a look at your mail, and decide whether you want them to shred it, send it, or open it and scan the contents for you to read online.
The fee for the establishment of residency plus a virtual mailbox is $239/year + a $25 setup fee. You’ll also need to deposit credit of $50, $100, or $150 for forwarding services.
They also offer a concierge service for an additional $24/year.
How to Pick the Best RV Mail Forwarding Service For You
Which RV mail forwarding service is best for you depends on a variety of factors based largely (but not solely) on your needs as a traveler receiving mail. For example, if you are a member of Escapees RV Club or FMCA, you may wish to choose the mail forwarding service related to your membership. Or if you wish to establish a domicile in Florida or South Dakota, you may wish to consider a service that assists you with that process.
You may also want to compare costs to make sure you’re getting the best deal available to you for the services you require.
Regardless of which service suits your needs best, RV mail forwarding services offer great benefits to RVers and other nomads.
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