While traveling in an RV, you don’t get the convenience of strolling to your mailbox at the end of your driveway! Carefree comes with a cost.
Getting mail is about more than keeping up with junk mail. Having a physical and mailing address is important for:
- Prescription medication refills
- Voter registration
- Insurance contracts
- Driver’s licenses and government-issued IDs
On this page we cover the services needed to keep the mail flowing, no matter where you are: Mail Forwarding Services, Receiving Mail, and Shipping Packages.
This instructional page may be helpful for RV owners, full-time RVers, boaters, digital nomads, military service people, and other people who live and work on the road.
During short trips, your mail can be collected by kind neighbors or friends. But as the length of your trip extends, forwarding your mail could become a burden, even for the most generous and well-intentioned of friends.
If you are traveling longer than two weeks, you will need to plan out your mail services. First, we will discuss the who/ how of sending mail. Second, then the pickup destination, with a final note on sending mail.
Table of Contents
Special Instructions for Full-Time RVers
Fulltimers! You will need both a permanent mailing address and a domicile. If you are giving up your house to live in an RV full time, you will not have an official mailing or residential address/ domicile in the eyes of the law.
- A P.O. Box can work as a permanent mailing address. You will need to find a way to reliably receive that mail which will be discussed later in the article.
- However, you are clearly not living in a P.O. Box so for legal reasons you will need a domicile with a residential address.
- Some states may accept a rented street address, such as a UPS mailbox location, as a domicile address.
You can have that domicile be a friend or family member’s address to serve as your permanent address. This means you will be “living with them” in the eyes of the law. Again, forwarding options for this will be discussed later.
Some Mailing Forwarding Services have a residential address that can serve as a domicile. Skip to that section to learn more.
No matter which solution you choose, it is highly recommended you reduce the amount of mail you will receive:
- Go paperless where possible with bills, etc.
- Unsubscribe from any unwanted mailing lists
- Inform people that you will be gone for x amount of time and mail will not be the recommended way to get a hold of you.
How Do I Forward Mail While Traveling in an RV?
Mail arriving at your “home base” (i.e. P.O. Box, your home, your permanent residential/ mailing address under someone else’s house) will need to get to you while you are away.
Benefits of a mail forwarding service:
- Don’t have to rely on friends and family to collect and forward your mail
- Mail is held while you are traveling
- Mail is forwarded to your current physical location on a schedule established by you
- Your mail forwarding address may be sufficient to establish legal residency (check with the state for specifics)
Below are ways of forwarding your mail while traveling or living in an RV:
1. USPS Forwards Mail to New Location
Just like when you move, you can choose to have the United States Postal Service simply forward your mail to a new location. You have to complete a Change of Address form (PS Form 3575) to have them hold the mail for your current address and send it to the new address.
Your Change of Address form should be submitted no later than two weeks before your move. You can specify a starting date up to 90 days in the future.
A USPS Change of Address is only valid for 12 months (less on certain items, like periodicals and magazines). So be sure to change all your accounts!
You may be able to purchase Extended Mail Forwarding for a maximum of an additional 18 months, which costs $39.95.
P.S. Don’t forget to confirm your Customer Notification Letter at your new forwarding address!
- Cheap- no extra cost to you!
- Utilizes the Postal Service, something you already know and use on a regular basis (although, perhaps, this is a con?)
- Filling out the form can be confusing. Some situations require in-person form submission, not online.
- The Post Office is known to get confused. Delivery times be excessive due to mail rerouting.
- Standard Change of Address only valid for up to 12 months.
- Making these changes takes time with the system for each new address change
Summary: This strategy works best for routine long trips to one location such as Snowbirds spending a season or more in a second home of sorts. Having the Post Office change multiple addresses can become cumbersome, so it is not recommended as your best method if you are planning a long road trip across the country with multiple destinations.
2. Friend Holds and Forwards Mail to You
Just like you might ask a neighbor to pick up a package while you are away for a few days, you can entrust your mail to a person for a longer period of time and have them forward the mail to you for relatively cheap.
There are two main ways to do this, each with its own pros and cons:
A: Reforward mail using existing postage
They can simply replace the correct address to reach you by crossing it out and writing the new one or placing an address label on top and use the existing postage, i.e. no extra postage cost to them.
- No extra charge
- Individual mailings, potentially lots of individually mailings
- Typos on address concerns
- Back-up plans for if they go on vacation, etc.
B: Bundle up needed mail into one bulk package
Instead of sending each piece of mail off to you individually, they can send them off to you in installments in bigger packages.
- Fewer mailings as they are in bulk
- Extra charge for shipping a new item, possibly more depending on the package size and rate
- Details of sending the package correctly and for the best rate
- Typos on address concerns
- Keeping track of everything until the next mail-out
- Back-up plans for if they go on vacation, etc.
Summation: This can be an easy cheap way to have your mail forwarded to you, especially if you don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy of the Postal System. Simply tell your designated person where to forward your mail.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind with both of these systems:
- Constant communication with your designated person is recommended to ensure everything gets to you. If you are going to multiple locations, they need to know your itinerary and when to start sending your mail to the next location.
- What measures do you have in place to make sure you aren’t waiting for mail to arrive?
- There is a chance of misspellings and typos that could delay your mail’s delivery.
- Privacy and trust: Your designated person will be receiving your mail. Do you have anything coming that you don’t want them seeing?
- Logistics: Will they be opening up your mail, informing you of who has sent you something, or simply sending everything to you unopened including junk?
- Security: Will you have them scan more important items? What can you do to make this job easier for them? Setting these rules ahead of time will help the process go smoother for both of you.
3. Professional RV Mail Forwarding Services
For full-timers, the first two options may seem too daunting. Asking a friend or family member to take on that responsibility full-time for the foreseeable is a lot to ask, even if you trust them both with your personal mail and with the details required to get it to you, wherever you are.
Professional RV Mail Forwarding Services take on all those duties for you for a regular fee.
Here’s how an RV mail forwarding service works:
- You are assigned a mailing address at the Service’s home base location.
- Your mail is delivered to that location.
- When you are ready, you tell the Service where to forward your mail (friend’s, campground, general delivery, etc.)
- Many services now offer digital mail delivery, where your mail is opened, scanned, and delivered to your email address. If you’re concerned about security, you can just have the unopened envelopes scanned, not their contents.
- You can set up scheduled mail forwarding as well one a weekly or monthly basis.
Different services offer different levels of communication and services, so it is best to do a little research and make sure that you pick the one that will provide what you need/prefer.
As mentioned earlier, a mail forwarding service is often best for full-timers due to the volume of mail and length of time involved. In addition, their official permanent address can provide you with a domicile/home base legally.
For this reason, the biggest and best professional RV mail forwarding services are based in the states that have the most RV-friendly laws: Texas, Florida, and South Dakota.
Some common options/ services to consider and ask about based on your needs include:
- Providing a physical street address
- Help setting up a domicile
- Scanning images of the contents of your envelopes online by request
- Shredding and recycling of unwanted/ junk mail by request
- Freezing account when it’s not needed
- Monthly billing vs. annual fees
- Postage account vs. pay per service
- Smartphone app for mobile account access
- Reviewing mail over the phone with a staff member
- Limits on mail or packages received
- Schedule of mail shipments: regular basis or by request
- Notifications for outgoing shipment
- Shipping Tracking numbers
- Storage fees
- Notifications on mail received
Below are some of the largest and well respected professional RV mail forwarding services listed with their home base state(s) and a few notable details.
Escapees RV Club
- Very well-known and trusted in the RV community!
- Offers mail forwarding services in Florida, South Dakota, and Texas
- Part of the Escapees RV Club, which has been in operation for 40+ years (since 1985)
- One of the largest mail forwarding services in the US
- Services offered include: scanning, shredding, sorting and screening, shipping notifications, scheduled delivery, package forwarding, and much more!
To learn more: Visit Escapees RV Club
Annual price: $95/$115/$135 for Category A, B, and C services.*
*Mail forwarding services are only available to members of the Escapee RV Club, which is another $39.95 annually.
Good Sam Mail Service
- Arguably the best-known mail forwarding service for RVers!
- Offers Florida street address, valid for domicile
- No limits on mail, no fees for incoming packages, and no storage fees
- Both plans feature a physical street address in Florida, a state-of-the-art account management tool, the option to shred and recycle junk or unwanted mail, and the ability to receive unlimited packages
- Premium option includes the ability to view the fronts of envelopes, packages, and magazines and request scanned pages
- Can turn account off/on if you don’t travel year-round
To learn more: Visit Good Sam Mail Service
Annual price: $108/$194/$399.50 for Basic, Premium, Business services. Monthly contracts and prices available as well.
- Online mailbox, NOT a substitute for residency address
- All-digital experience
- Scans mail into an online system that you can access 24/7 worldwide
- If needed, they can forward mail physically to you instead of scanning
My RV Mail (Florida)
- Offers Basic, Premium, and Business Plans
- Services include: reviewing mail with live representatives, free scans of envelope contents, and shipping automatically or manually with a variety of shipping agencies (UPS, FedEx, or USPS)
St. Brendan’s Isle Mail Forwarding Service
- Stable location in Clay County Florida designed for full-time and part-time travelers
- Street Address to help establish your Florida residency
- Travelers Special mail option provides monthly mailing options without an annual commitment, and a 24-hour online account manager tool
Texas Home Base (Texas)
- 3 plan options based on how you want your mail delivered (physical mail forwarding, scanned mail via email, or scanned mail via a digital mailbox)
- Been in service since 2002
- Clients include full-time RVers and boaters, traveling nurses, physical therapists, sailors, truck drivers, traveling homeschoolers, missionaries, international business owners, and expatriates
Where Do I Receive My Mail?
Okay, so now that you have picked a system for getting your mail from one location to another? Where are you having them send it?
The most convenient place to receive mail is at the RV park where you are staying. Before having mail forwarded to the park address, be sure to check with the facility manager.
Many campgrounds and resorts will allow their residents to receive mail using their physical addresses. Not everyone allows this, so make sure to check ahead of time. Answer for these details:
- How should it be addressed on the envelope/ package?
- Are there any special instructions to ensure it will be delivered properly?
- Do you allow packages to be delivered and if so what are your restrictions on size, etc.?
- If the mail arrives before we do, will you hold it for me? What are the restrictions and requirements?
- If the mail may be arriving for someone in my party who does not share your last name, etc. what is the best method for handling confusion on that?
- Is there a fee for this service?
USPS General Delivery
You can send your mail straight to the city or town’s post office for General Delivery and simply pick it up by giving your name and providing a valid form of ID (usually a driver’s license) to verify your identity with the name on the mail.
Call the post office for details. Not all post offices in a city/ town offer General Delivery pick-up so you want to make sure you know which post office to go to pick it up. Call ahead to know the details.
Consider where the post office is and if it is the best pick-up location for you. If the post office is in the middle of downtown in a big city, getting your rig down there to pick up mail may be an issue. Consider finding a smaller town nearby where pick up will be easier.
Address general delivery mail as follows:
Your Name General Delivery City, State, ZIP
Anytown, ST, 12345
Mail is held for 10 days for pick up so make sure you pick it up in time. General details can be found here, but check with the exact post office for location-specific details.
While most people report no problems getting mail this way, some branch offices in large towns may not accept General Delivery. Plan ahead and call the local branch to make sure. Here are a couple of helpful resources:
- Find a ZIP code by city
- Find a Post Office, then click More Info for the phone number
- Private mailbox rental from different shipping agencies such as UPS, FedEx, etc.
- Check for fees, prices, duration options, etc.
- Ship to a local postal agency store (UPS, FedEx, etc.)
- Address it to the store with your name as the C/O or ATTN recipient.
- The store will typically hold your package for up to 30 days.
- Inquire ahead of time about the fees and procedures for that specific store to ensure that your package arrives as expected and you can pick it up.
- Amazon Locker:
- If you are ordering from Amazon, you can choose to have it delivered to a designated locker or pick-up station near you as opposed to your address.
- They are often in Whole Foods Markets and convenience stores. You will need your passcode!
- Amazon Locker only holds packages for three days.
Local Friends, Family, Business Connections
If you are meeting people in the area, you can see if they are comfortable with you sending some mail to them to make it easier for you to pick up. Even businesses are often happy to receive your mail if you ask ahead of time and make sure. So if you are meeting with your accountant, for example, to go over some financials, you could ask if you could have some mail shipped to them that you will pick up at your meeting.
How Do I Send Mail?
Sending mail while traveling in an RV isn’t much different than sending mail when you’re dwelling in a regular house.
The biggest issue is that you don’t have that handy mailbox on your front lawn to put in outgoing mail with your address and the destination.
So, head over to a Post Office, Post Office Mail Box, or a private shipping agency (FedEx, UPS, etc.) with your mail. Make sure that the return address is an address that can be returned to you if necessary, i.e.
- The Campground/ Resort Address
- The City’s Post Office General Delivery
- Your permanent mailing/ residency address
Shipping: What You Need to Know!
- Keep your itinerary in mind. If you will be leaving town in the next week, it’s probably not a great idea to list the Campground as the return address just in case it gets returned or they need a response and simply use the address on the envelope.
- Unless you are planning on staying for a while, it’s probably best to use your permanent mailing address that has forwarding options set up to get back to you if needed. If it’s anything official, you might need to put your permanent mailing address anyways for it to line up with their records.
- For envelopes: use your normal shipping methods with the correct return address.
- For packages: this can get a little more tricky, just as it can when delivering a package from a house. You need a container such as a box or a large envelope and you will need to go to the Post Office or private shipping agency for them to mail it with the correct postage.
- You can reuse a package if you have one from a recent delivery or use their packaging options in-store. The options in-store will typically have flat shipping rates, but not always. A re-used box might be cheaper, but depends on the dimensions and weight. If you can weigh the package using a scale, you can determine the number of stamps needed for the package to ship.
- It is often best to simply use a reputable shipping service than risk miscalculating the postage which would result in the package being returned to sender.
Go to one of the shipper websites below, create a free account, and log on to print shipping labels.
Andy Herrick is a blogging nerd, #8 Enneagram, wannabe bread baker, INTJ, RV industry professional, and small business entrepreneur. He can be found hanging out with his lovely wife and family, skiing, cycling, climbing, hiking, and convincing anyone who will listen why dogs aren’t really that great of pets. Also, he runs this website.