A common question we get when people find out we are full-time travelers is how we get our mail. It’s easier (most of the time) than you may think.
Everyone has a domicile, with domicile meaning a legal relationship between a person and a place. Everyone with a driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance of any type, and that pays taxes, needs to have a legal domicile. For most, it’s where they live. But when you don’t ‘live’ anywhere, when you don’t have a fixed place of residence, you need to establish an address to use as your legal domicile address. Some people use a family member’s or a friend’s address, and that is definitely an option, especially if they live in the same state you’ve most recently lived in. Two caveats in this scenario are that that person will have to deal with your mail, and, if they ever move, you’ll have to change your address as well. This is why many full-timers choose to set up a domicile address with a mail service. The three states that most full-time travelers use as domiciles are Texas, Florida and South Dakota and we chose South Dakota. To learn more about establishing a domicile, read our post about it here.
All of our regular USPS mail is sent to our address in South Dakota. We can also have any packages sent there shipped via any other carriers, but we try to avoid doing that so we don’t have to pay to have them shipped to our current location. We get an email any time a new piece of mail arrives and I’m able to look online to see what it is (they scan the front of each piece of mail). When we want our mail, I schedule a shipment and our mail is sent to us. But where is it sent?, you ask.
- Our Current Location – Many campgrounds will accept mail on your behalf; just check with them how it should be addressed in order for it to get to you. Also, make sure they accept mail from all carriers — USPS, UPS, FedEx, Amazon. Not all carriers can make general deliveries to all locations.
- USPS General Delivery – The local post office will accept general deliveries on your behalf and hold on to them for up to 30 days. Always call the post office to see if they accept general deliveries before having something sent there (the USPS website can be inaccurate). Also, they only accept things shipped via the USPS, so don’t expect them to accept your Amazon packages. This has worked great for us when we’ve stayed at State Parks/National Parks. The address for general deliveries is: Your Name, General Delivery, City, State, Zip Code. Make sure the package is addressed to whoever is picking it up as you may need to present your ID.
- UPS Store – Just as the USPS accepts USPS-shipped packages on your behalf, UPS Stores will accept UPS-shipped packages on your behalf; however, they may charge a fee. Again, call the store to make sure they offer this service.
- Amazon Locker – Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks where customers can pick up Amazon.com packages at a time and place that is convenient for them. When you check out on Amazon, there’s a ‘Find an Amazon Locker’ option when choosing your delivery address. This service is most likely only available in cities of a certain size, but is also a great option for anyone who doesn’t want their packages stolen off their front porch.
So, that’s it! It’s fairly simple, but be forewarned, things move slowly this way. We often receive our mail about three weeks later than if we were in a bricks and sticks home. Make sure to sign up for paperless for everything you can. Our mail service will open and scan something if we request it, so we’re able to read the important stuff in a timely manner.