How To Receive Packages While Traveling

The most reliable and cost-effective methods for receiving mail and packages while traveling will depend on a few factors. Whether you're traveling abroad or domestically, long-term or short-term, and the type of mail you're receiving can help you determine the most appropriate method to do so.

If you're only traveling for a few months but don't have a permanent address for mail delivery, then consider asking a friend or family member if they're willing to receive your mail until you return. Or, if you'd like to have your mail forwarded, leave friends or family members postage to forward your mail to a temporary address once you have one. Also, to reduce and streamline mail, try to switch to electronic correspondence whenever possible. Most bills, tax forms, and other importation documents can now be sent electronically.

While asking friends and family is a pretty simple suggestion, this option may not always be possible. Fortunately, there are a few public and private mail delivery services that can help you receive your mail and packages on the road.

Use General Delivery or Poste Restante services

If you're without a permanent address and traveling long-term, you can have your mail and packages sent to post office addresses. In America, this delivery system option is referred to as using General Delivery. In Europe, the option is known as Poste Restante.

To utilize these services, the sender simply addresses your items to your first and last name, "General Delivery" or "Poste Restante," and the full address of the post office.

Once the mail is delivered, a letter-carrying U.S. post office will hold your mail for up to 10 days. If it's not a letter-carrying facility, the post office will hold your mail for up to 15 days. If traveling abroad, the length of time that a facility will hold your mail may depend on the country. In America, General Delivery is free, but fees may apply abroad, depending on the country and how long the facility holds the items. In both cases, you'll need a valid ID to collect your mail.

Use private package deliver services

Along with public services through the post office system, there are also private companies that help travelers deal with mail. The service you choose may depend on the type of mail you're receiving. For paper mail, Escapees and Traveling Mailbox are both mail-forwarding companies popular among RVers and full-time travelers within the U.S.

These companies provide travelers with a few options. They'll receive, package, and forward your mail to a specified address. Or, If you don't wish to receive your physical mail, then you can have your mail opened, scanned, and emailed to you. While this may work for paper mail, which is why choosing electronic correspondence whenever possible is a good idea, these services don't really help with large packages.

If you're receiving something from Amazon, choose to have your package shipped to Amazon Lockers, which are available throughout 900 American cities. Obviously, this option is limited to Amazon purchases. To receive packages from friends or family, you can do so through FedEx and UPS facilities. Or, you can ask a private facility, such as a campsite or hotel, if they allow guest mail. If so, you can plan to receive your package during your stay at their facility.