How to receive mail as a full time nomad

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Recently in one of my facebook vanlife groups the question was asked

"How do you get mail if you are living in a van?"

It seemed like a very difficult question for many people to answer. This being the case, I figured I would save everyone some time and answer this question in this handy article.

While the idea of becoming a full time nomad can seem daunting at first, and figuring out how to get all of the basic staples you have become accustomed to as house dwellers can seem nearly impossible. Trust me, it's not. Once you get the basics down, everything else falls into place.

Without further ado, here is my list I hope it proves useful to you!

1. Friends and family- This option is a no brainer. Asking your trusted relatives and friends to pick up your packages is easy. More than likely they are stationary and able to save your packages until the next time you are in town.

Wait, but what do you do when you need that item right away?

2. Post office box- While a post office box is helpful if you stay in the same area for longer than a month, there are a lot of disadvantages to this option. While I would recommend this method to stationary van dwellers who don't get a lot of packages or important information, I would stay away from it if you are more like me, and never know how long you are going to stay in one place.

Pro tip: Official documents such as License, Registration, Insurance and some packages will not come here. If you only need mail for any of these reasons, a P.O. Box is not for you.

3. Ups mailbox- Ups offers a personal mailbox service that you can rent on a monthly basis. I like this option because you can get everything important sent here. When you sign up for this service, You receive a personal mailing address, not a P.O. Box number. This allows you to get car insurance, update registration, and even register to vote. One disadvantage to this method, as a nomad, is that you can not transfer boxes during your "lease" if you plan on moving on during the time you are renting the box. It is a good and cheap option, just be sure you know your timeline if you plan on using this for your mailing needs.

4. Mail forwarding services- Mail forwarding services are a gold mine. They have everything you need all wrapped up in a bow. a personal mailing address, package delivery to whatever location you may be in, optional junk mail disposal, and mail scanning for those ultra important documents you need to sign and return today! The only caveat (in my opinion) is the fact that you have to pay extra for every piece of mail they forward to you on top of monthly fee. I get it, postage cost money, and time should be reimbursed, but when I pay for something I don't like hidden fees after the fact.

Would I recommend this? I feel like if you are the type of person who never knows where you will be, and want a reliable location to receive your mail for you, this is the best option. The scanning services alone are invaluable. I personally have never used this service. I am thinking I may take advantage of it this year, as some offer car registration services meaning you don't have to travel back and forth every year to do your paperwork.

5. Homeless services- I know, I know, you don't have to say it. " I'm not homeless, I chose this life! My van is my home!" I get it, I feel the same way! However, I don't have a mailbox so I use all resources available to me. Some churches and community centers offer free mail services. It is easy to sign up with proof of identification and start using their address as your mailing address.

Pro tip: Insurance once closed my account due to using a church as my "garaging address" be aware, this may happen to you too.

6. Amazon locker- Amazon locker in conjunction with Amazon Prime is a nomadic persons best friend. In nearly every state in America you are able to receive any eligible prime package (restrictions apply) in two days. This means if you are a prime member most any item you need is anywhere you are, whenever you need it to be. This is my go-to for items I can't find in my current location.

7. General delivery- This option is for those items that Amazon locker can't hold. General Delivery is a service the Post Office offers for free for up to 30 days from the date of delivery. It's easy to set this up. All you need to do is add this address to your shipping label:

Your Name

General Delivery

City, State Zip Code-9999

Pro tip: Whatever you do DON'T FORGET THE {General Delivery} or the {-9999}. You can receive anything here except ups/dhl/ fedex packages. Don't forget your ID, the teller will not release your mail if you don't. The USPS website location finder usually specifies if General Delivery is accepted, and it’s also a good idea to call ahead and verify.

8. Commercial receivers (Ups/ DHL/ Fedex)- Commercial receivers work like General Delivery at the post office. The only caveat is these companies will only hold items they are delivering anyway. For Amazon this one is a little trickier. While in North Dakota I found out there are no Amazon Lockers. This meant I needed to improvise. I tried to get a package sent to ups, just guessing which provider they would choose. To my dismay they picked fedex, this made a delay, which meant I had to call amazon to have fedex hold the package. Don't make my mistake, call amazon after you make your purchase to insure they send your items to the correct place.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Peace, Love, Vanlife!