Today we’re talking about how we get mail as a full time RVer. It’s a question people ask us all the time. That made us curious about what other full timers do as well, so we asked in Facebook groups how they get their mail too.
And what we quickly realized is that we have it easy! Our mail goes to our daughter’s home. Every couple weeks, she opens it, takes pictures and emails us.
We also learned that the topic of getting mail for full time RVers can go beyond simply having a friend or family member open it. It opens up a whole can of worms about what’s the best state to claim RV domicile. We’ll tackle that topic more fully in another video and post. But today let’s focus more on how to get our mail.
Why do we need someone else to get our mail?
We made the transition to being full time RVers over a period of time. It wasn’t our original plan when we began a nomadic lifestyle in 2019. Here’s our quick backstory.
Steve and I love hiking and backpacking. Well, I probably loved it more when we were younger and I was in good shape. But for years we talked about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a North/South trail heading from the Mexican border near San Diego to the Canadian border in Washington state.
We talked about this trail forever and then finally decided to give it a go. We sold our home of 20 years, then we rented an apartment in downtown Portland for a year. Figured we might as well try out city life before going on a 2,653 mile hike that would have us sleeping in a tent for six months.
Long story short, we started hiking in March of 2019 and, well, lots of things have happened since then, including our purchase of Cupcake, our Arctic Fox 990 truck camper. But getting back to what this article is about, in 2019 we asked our youngest daughter if she’d mind receiving our snail mail for a few months. She said sure.
Well that few months has lasted for over two years now. AND our daughter and her husband just had their first baby. So we started looking into mail services in order to relieve them of continuing to take care of us during this busy time of their own lives.
What type of RVers need someone to get their Mail?
First I learned that there are two types of full time RVer. The first type still has a home base. Maybe it’s a piece of property where they spend time in their RV. Or maybe it’s still their house that they just hold on to. So these people are actual residents of that home base state.
The second type of full time RVer is more like us. We’ve sold our permanent houses and started being nomadic. Our belongings are either in storage or some of us simply sold everything except what they need in an RV. For those of us without permanent roots, we rely on others for a little help to get mail as a full time RVer.
How do most RVers get mail?
The first step in getting mail is to not get snail mail! What I mean is that we set up everything we possibly could to be sent to us digitally. So the bulk of our mail comes into our email inboxes, rather than through snail mail. We do most of our business online now, so we don’t actually get much paper mail anymore.
However, there are still some items that come by snail mail, so many RVers get that the same way we do and have a family member help them out. Sometimes that family member picks up mail from the RVers own home. Or sometimes that family member receives mail at their own home for the traveler, like our daughter does for us.
Other full time RV families use a mail service to get their mail and that’s how I realized there’s more to obtaining a mail service than just simply choosing one. For instance, many RV’ers get specific mail services in specific states in order to have the benefits of residing in those states.
They often set up domicile in South Dakota, Florida or Texas because those states have no income tax and they’re friendly to the RV lifestyle. I know I said I wouldn’t go into domicile too much, but it seems like a short discussion might prove useful.
What is RV Domicile?
RV domicile is basically your legal connection to a state. It’s where you choose to set up residence, if you will. Where you register to vote, register your cars, get insurance, all the things you do when you “live somewhere”.
As full time RV’ers we travel all the time. But since we were already Oregon residents, it made sense to keep our domicile within the state. Getting mail at Tayler’s was a natural extension of what we already had in place. And technically we reside at her home.
Steve and I don’t really stay in any one place long enough to consider that we live there, as we now travel most of the time. But Oregon is still our domicile state, since we consider it our home base. It’s where we’ll live once we decide to quit being vagabonds. It’s where we end up spending a lot of time now, since four of our five kids are in the Pacific Northwest.
Check out our YouTube video about how to get mail as a full time RVer.
What does a Mail Service do?
Here’s what our daughter does for us every two to three weeks:
- Opens our mail
- Takes pictures of it
- Emails a summary and pictures to us
- We reply with anything we may need her to follow up on (like the occasional forging of our signatures and returning an answer to sender).
- Saves the hard copies for when we’re in town or shred them if we ask her to.
- Deposits the random live check into our bank account.
From speaking with other full time RVers, this is basically the same options that you get when you hire an RV mail forwarding service.
To get mail as a full time RVer, you’ll have your mail sent to one of the services. Specific options may differ according to their price plans. But you can select to have them photograph the envelops and send you a summary. Then you decide to have them hold the mail or forward it to your location.
Or you can also have the service open and scan your mail, which they’ll then upload to an encrypted server. You access the server whenever you have a signal and decide what you’d like to do with your mail from there.
What RV Mail Forwarding Service Companies are Available?
Here’s a list of the big names in mail forwarding services based on my survey of a couple different RV Facebook groups. The companies offer most of the same types of services, but may vary a little in the specifics. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of these choices, as I’ve honestly not heard bad reviews of any of them. So your selection of a mail forwarding service will really just depend on what works best for your circumstances. What you need to get mail as a full time RVer might differ a little from what we need, so hopefully this list gives you a place to start.
- Escapees RV Club in Texas, Florida or SD: You choose your state’s domicile, then receive your mail at an Escapees address. They’ll hold your mail till they hear from you with forwarding directions. If you’ll be in the same place for a while, they’ll forward your mail directly there.
- St Brendan’s Isle in Florida: An industry leader since 1988, St Brendan’s is well respected in mail forwarding services. This option gives you a Florida street address, so that you can receive all types of snail mail. The company will help you establish Florida residency as well.
- iPostal1.com: Offers the ability to view and manage your mail from wherever you are, whenever you have time and cell connection. They offer services to individuals and businesses, so if you’re working on the road and incorporate your side gig business, then iPostal1 may be able to help.
- PostScanMail.com: Like other services, they send you a scan of the envelope. Then if you request, they open and scan your snail mail. Or they’ll shred or forward it too. You access your online mail account at your convenience. The phone app looks easy to use.
- America’s Mailbox: Located in Box Elder, South Dakota, America’s Mailbox is really one-stop shopping. They help you change your domicile to South Dakota and suggest doing so about two months prior to going full-time. That way you’ll have switched your vehicle registration and switched your mail address while you’re still at home. Once you’re on the road, it’ll be easier to simply just start driving with all the details handled. You don’t actually have to go to South Dakota to get set up with an address there, it can all be done digitally.
- However, you do need to be present to get a driver’s license and to become a South Dakota resident. America’s Mailbox websites says this: “No, you are not immediately a South Dakota resident. Your driver’s license is your main proof of residency. When you join you receive a unique address that is yours forever and may be used legally to obtain a driver’s license, register to vote, etc. Per federal regulations, you must spend ONE (1) night every FIVE (5) years anywhere in South Dakota to obtain and renew your driver’s license. Beyond that, your presence is NOT required.“
- Traveling Mailbox: If we end up switching away from our daughter’s address, I believe we’ll switch to Traveling Mailbox. It offers a physical street address in many cities and states across the US. Portland and Tigard are both cities within Oregon that we can use. And that’s great to keep our domicile the same for the time being.
- This service works the same as the rest, letting you see what mail you have. Next, you tell them what steps to take. Their website lays out what you get with each monthly service in a simple and easy to read manner. It breaks down how many pieces of mail you get with each plan and it rolls over unused scans to the next month. That seems straight forward to me.
- MyRVMail.com : I read in a Facebook group that this company is part of Passport America, but I can’t really find any documentation to support that. Feel free to leave me a comment if you know more about it. This RV mail forwarding service is located in Florida and they can help with your domicile setup. You don’t absolutely have to establish Florida residency to use their service, which offers similar options as the other providers I’ve listed.
What do RV Mail Forwarding Services cost?
As with anything, when you get mail as a full time RVer, you can select to have basic services all the way up to full service. And your costs will rise accordingly. To get mail as a full time RVer, the price generally starts around $10 per month and goes up to $50 for premium services.
Of course, if you have the service forward your paper mail, you’ll need to pay the postage fees in addition to their service fees. Choosing a company with an annual fee may save you some money if you’re planning to be nomadic for longer periods of time.
What about Receiving Mail on Shorter Trips?
For non-full timers taking summer trips, you can get mail and packages at most RV Parks. We’ve used this option a couple of times, when we knew we’d be in an area for awhile. Or if we know we’re planning to head somewhere, we send a package ahead to ourselves at the RV Park.
You can rent a Post Office Box if you’ll be in an area for a few months and have your home mail forwarded it to it. That seems like a bit of work to me though, so it wouldn’t be my first choice. But it’s definitely an option.
You can also get General Delivery mail at any post office. This is an option we’ve used a lot! We’ve had our kids send us stuff from home to random post offices around the country. Mostly in California, as we were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. But also since we’ve been RVing full time.
How do you get packages as a Full time RVer?
We get packages from Amazon or other providers several ways.
- Delivered to our friends or family’s homes
- General delivery at post offices
- Sent to RV Parks
- Amazon Hub Lockers
Our family often tease us that they know we’re heading back soon when they start getting packages for us. We try to send a text with a heads up, but we’ve been known to forget. Then we get a text from one of them saying, “We got a package for you, does that mean you’re coming here soon?” Uh, oops. 🙂
Amazon Hub Lockers are probably our first choice beyond friends and family for packages. We look up the nearest one to where we’re staying and then send our purchase to it. Amazon alerts us when the package has arrived. Then it gives you a code to use to open the locker. You can either type it in or scan the bar code. Then a little door will pop open, showing our package behind it. It’s kind of fun to get packages this way.
So far, we’ve not found any lockers out in the desert or up in the mountains, which is kind of a bummer. But a trip into town usually means lunch at a restaurant too! So we like to make a day of it.
And just like my examples above for shorter trips, we also get packages at RV Parks and by General Delivery at a local post office. Both are super easy options.
What’s the best way to get Mail as a full time RVer?
Obviously, I think having a family member or close friend get your mail for you is the easiest solution. It’s worked out very well for us. And I don’t think it’s been too difficult for our daughter. As time passes, we get less and less snail mail anyway, so that also makes it easier.
If you’re choosing a forwarding service to get mail as a full time RVer, then explore your options from the ones I’ve listed. Plus there are many more available out there. Think about your domicile and where you’ll likely go to pick up any mail you need to get in person.
For us, getting mail is such a small part of our overall RV experience. We let our daughter know if we’re expecting something important. Then she remembers to check her mail and lets us know what’s arrived. We’ve learned that younger people don’t check their mail as often as we did (think every two weeks instead of daily). And that’s okay.
We spend more time exploring and living in the moment and then take care of business when it’s necessary. I’d say that’s a pretty good way to live!
Before you go: If you’re looking at setting up a domicile in South Dakota then check out these cool places to visit around the state:
- Wind Cave National Park – Exploring caves and camping with prairie dogs & bison
- Wall Drug Store – the wildest shopping center you’ll ever visit!
- Mt Rushmore & Crazy Horse Memorial – Visit the top sites…then hang around for the world’s largest Bigfoot!
- South Dakota’s Northern Black Hills – Spearfish, Lead and Deadwood are such fun to visit