How To Get Your Mail if You Live an RV, Van, Camper or Travel Trailer
The first question I get asked by new RV owners, “How do you get mail while living in your RV full-time?”
Mail service is one of those tricky logistics that most of us take for granted while living out of a “conventional” home like a house or an apartment.
For longterm travelers like myself mail delivery services require constant attention, but after the initial setup only takes a few seconds to maintain.
To receive mail while living in an RV or camper full-time you simply need to sign up for a PO Box, forward all of your mail directly to the campground itself, or use a friends address as your permanent mailing address while you are traveling longterm in your RV.
If you are living out of your RV or Camper full time and need mail service let me show you how to set that up. Check out the table of contents above this paragraph to skip around this page to the sections that you need more information about.
How RVers Get Their Mail for Free
The easiest way to get mail if you live an RV full-time is to have it delivered right to your camper door. FedEx or UPS will deliver right to your camper in any campground in America. The post office or mail carrier that drives around in the white mail truck WILL NOT!
How does this work? You simply provide an address that looks like an address for an apartment.
1234 Example street #enter your site number
Example City, Example State 99901
The last campground I stayed at was up in Colorado, and my family wanted to send me Christmas gifts. So I gave them the address to the campground with my site number, and all of their packages were delivered right to my travel trailer door. That address was:
9238 Hwy 55 #21
Grand Lake, CO 80447
No special shipping or expenses required. I didn’t even notify the campground office. No special delivery instructions. Packages were just set on the ground next to my camper door.
Were they sat until I arrived home from my adventures. This is how I get most of my mail while living in my RV full-time. Another great way to get your mail while living in an RV or longterm traveling is general delivery mail.
General Delivery Mail is an Amazing Option if You Live an RV or Camper
If you don’t trust your RV camping neighbors or need something a little more secure while traveling in your RV check out general delivery mail service.
What is General Delivery Mail
General delivery mail is a phenomenal free mail service for those without a permanent address. Available at every post office in the country.
Thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail & other long-distance hikers use general delivery mail to receive care packages from friends and family all the time.
Whether you’re a long-distance hiker or a full-time RVer general delivery mail is a wonderful free option to receive your mail without a permanent address.
How Does General Delivery Mail Work
The easiest way to get mail while living out of your RV full time is general delivery mail.
To receive general delivery mail all you have to do is have your mail sent to the post office you desire with your first name, last name and the words “Care of ~ General Delivery”
For example, if I was doing a multi-day backpacking trip from Estes Park to Grand Lake and wanted to get my mail in Grand Lake I would send all of my mail to the Grand Lake Post office like this:
Care of General Delivery
520 Center Dr
Grand Lake, CO 80447
While out on the road traveling in your RV general delivery mail is a wonderful free option for full mail service while living out of your RV fulltime.
Unfortunately, packages will only be held for 30 days. So you will need to plan accordingly. It’s also a good idea to inform the local post office you are expecting something to be coming “general delivery” status. However, they will still accept and hold your mail for 30 days even if you don’t inform them ahead of time.
Get A Local P.O. Box
What is a PO Box
A post office box, also known as P.O. Box, is a small secure uniquely numbered box located directly within the post office building.
How Much Does a Post Office Box Cost
Renting a post office box is a convenient way to improve the reliability and security of your mail while living out of your RV full time, and renting a P.O. box also makes it easier to maintain a consistent mail service address if you are traveling long term.
P.O. Boxes are not free. You have to rent them for 6-12 months at a time from your local post office.
There are three factors that determine the rate of a P.O. Box rental
- Size of the box
- Length of time it will be rented
The bigger the PO Box the more expensive it will be. The longer you rent it the cheaper it will be. However, location also factors into the cost of PO box pricing.
In an area with no mail carrier service, PO Box rental rates will be higher than areas that do provide door to door mail service. You can use the U.S. Postal service website to find the exact rate for the area you need mail service while traveling in your RV.
Generally speaking though, post office boxes cost $19-$75 for a six-month rental.
Mail Scanning Services For RV Travelers
Technology is wonderful and has made full time RVing so much easier. One of those technological advances is mail scanning services like the ones found at Escapees. In today’s world, you can choose from a variety of mail scanning services to get mail while living out of your RV full time.
What is a Mail Scanning Service
A mail scanning service is nothing more than just that. A company will scan the outside of your envelopes and packages. Then they will either email you these scans or upload them to some sort of online dashboard that only you have access to. After reviewing the scans you can instruct the mail scanning service company to destroy, forward or open your mail.
How Much Does Mail Scanning Services Cost
Mail scanning companies are a wonderful way to keep a permanent address while traveling around longterm in your RV. The cost of a mail scanning service ranges between $5-$100 a month, and depends on the features you require. Mostly, it comes down to how much mail they will have to scan. The more mail you need scanned and delivered the more expensive this monthly service will be.
Four main factors that determine the cost of a monthly mail scanning service.
- Amount of mail received
- Number of envelopes or packages you want to be scanned and opened
- Mail Destroyed
- Forwarded Packages
- Free recipients
Use A Friend Or Family Members Address While Traveling In Your RV
The easiest, cheapest and best way to get your mail while living in your RV full-time out on the road is to have all your mail delivered to a trusted friend or family member.
Almost all fulltime RVers choose this method to receive their mail because with today’s technology, it’s super easy, safe and secure. I personally send all my mail to my parent’s house. Whenever they get a piece of mail they think I need to know about I get a text message with a photo of the outside of the envelope or package.
Once upon a time, I used to have my parents forward all of my mail to me every month. That turned out to be a colossal waste of time. As most of “my” mail was nothing more than marketing material or irrelevant promotions I wanted nothing to do with.
Since then I have reduced my mail to the bare necessities. The only mail I receive are tax returns and financial statements that don’t offer an electronic/web option.
With the evolution of the internet, almost everything can be viewed or stored online. So really the only thing that needs to be “hand-delivered” are packages and important documents.
So like many full-time RVers, I just use a friend or family member’s address for my “main” mail delivery service option.
How Different Mailing Addresses Affects Your Credit Report
Another reason why I use a friend or family member’s address is to ensure I only have one main permanent address on file.
Years ago I took advantage of viewing my credit report for free. Which came as a complete shock to me. I had over 300 different addresses on each credit report.
This happened because any form you fill out that requires a credit check or credit reporting will use the address you put on the form.
Forms for your cable tv, internet and cell phone all go to the credit bureaus. Applications for bank accounts, propane, and housing all get reported to the credit bureaus. Some employment forms like your W9 all go to the credit bureaus. If you get delinquent on an account the information you provided on a form or application will go to the credit bureaus once it becomes a collection account.
In today’s world just about any form, you fill out all go to the credit bureaus.
What Does RVer Mail Have to do With Credit Bureaus
Having multiple addresses and employers on your credit report makes you look like a transient. When applying for any line of credit you want to look as responsible and stable as possible. Even if it is for something as trivial as a propane account or local cable company. If your application looks less than stellar you will be required to pay security deposits or extra rates based on your poor credit report.
Something I learned the hard way when applying for cable, internet and propane accounts around the country. I was forced to pay security deposit after security deposit no matter where I was. I just assumed it was the normal operating procedure.
Until after I cleaned all of the unnecessary addresses and employers on my credit report. The very next application required no security deposit from me, and I haven’t had to pay for a security deposit since then.
Not on my cell phone. Not for the local cable and internet company. Propane companies just deliver without hesitation. Everything gets setup with just a phone call now. Versus before I needed to put a card on file, or pay a hefty security deposit before propane could be delivered.
All because I deleted old outdated addresses and employers from my credit report.
Picking a Permanent Address/Domicile
Since picking a permanent address to use while living out of my RV full time my credit report has never dipped.
For any form that requires an address and employer I simply use my parent’s address as my home address, and Adventure Jobs as my employer.
If you were to pull my credit report right now it will say I have lived at such and such address for over 22 years, and I have worked at MyAdventureJobs for over 22 years. On paper, I look like a stable responsible individual who has had the same job and address for over two decades!
Doesn’t Matter if it’s an Out of State Address
Another thing I have learned over the years is that an out of state mailing address is fine.
In fact, in some cases, it worked out to my benefit. While living in Utah I signed up for Comcast cable and internet with my Minnesota address. This allowed me to view local Minnesota channels while living in Utah. So I was able to watch my sports team’s live from my camper which was located in Ogden, UT.
I have been using my Minnesota address for over 22 years now without any problems.
Full-Time RVers use Google Voice for Free
Every form I fill out I use my Minnesota address, MyAdventureJobs as an employer and a google voice phone number.
Google voice works just like a home phone with features like caller ID, voicemail and even the ability to text. All for free. You can even call any phone number in America for free through any wifi connection. I have a friend who was tired of paying Verizon rates on his cell phone.
So for the last 6 years, he simply uses google voice to power his cell phone. Instead of paying a $150/month bill he now has all the capabilities of a modern-day smartphone for $0 monthly obligations.
He doesn’t need to switch out SIM cards when he goes over seas. Doesn’t need to unlock his phone to use in a certain part of the world. He simply connects to a Wifi source and can make all the phone calls he needs to make. With no monthly financial obligation.
How Does Google Voice Work
Google voice is a great option for those living full time out of their RVs. All you need to do is sign up for a free account at Google Voice. Choose the area you want your phone number from, and your all setup to make and receive calls for free.
You can choose to make calls from any device. Not just your cell phone. When I was living in South Dakota I didn’t have a cell phone but was able to make and receive calls from my laptop.
Google Voice allows you to make phone calls through the traditional landline phone system as well as the mobile phone network for free. Kind of like skype, but with a lot more power at no cost.
You can also connect or forward your google voice to ring your home phone, cell phone or any number of other devices for incoming calls. Which is what my friend does.
Whenever he is connected to Wifi he’s able to receive and make real-time phone calls using his google voice account on his smartphone. When he is not connected to Wifi all incoming calls are sent to his voicemail box.
Google Voice Block Feature
One of the greatest features I love about Google Voice is its blocking option. Most blocking options just send a blocked number to your voicemail. Still creating a connection between you and the blockee.
With Google Voice, if you choose to block a number all future attempts by that company or individual will be met with “Sorry this number is no longer in service.”
I absolutely LOVE this feature!!! I have no idea with all my tricks how I end up on telemarketer spam call sheets, but with this blocking feature, I get removed rather quickly! It’s a wonderful feature that every phone company should install.
How I Get My Mail While Living in My RV
Traveling since 1998 this is my setup. How I receive my mail while traveling in my RV full-time, or longterm backpacking adventures.
I list my google voice number to create a buffer between me and unwanted phone solicitors. This is how I keep my credit report looking stable and responsible while I bounce around the globe. This system is my setup and has helped me to avoid lost mail and unnecessary security deposits for everyday utilities.
This is what has worked for me, but maybe you have a better system.
Leave your questions, suggestions and other RV mail tips in the comments below. I’m sure others would love to hear how you receive your mail traveling in your RV full-time. And as always if you need more RV life tips follow this link to my RV life corner. https://aowanders.com/category/start-here/rv-life/