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Old 11-30-2014, 05:23 AM   #1
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Mail?

We plan to be on the road for 5-6 weeks starting mid January. First for a bat project along the Lower Colorado River between AZ and CA for 3-3.5 weeks. After that we plan to travel a bit and visit some of the SW states and national parks. All below the freeze line if possible. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Those of us tropically adapted do not do so well in Michigan.

Our biggest concern now is mail. What do most full & part timers who are away from home more than a week do about mail?

When we lived and worked in Central America we established on-line banking for our U.S. accounts. So banking is not an issue as everything (well most except some research project funds) are direct deposit and bills are all auto-pay from our accounts).

Mail is our one big concern.

Any suggestions welcomed.

Bat Dude
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Old 11-30-2014, 06:14 AM   #2
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Dude,
There are several mail forwarding services around, Escapees RV Club , https://www.myrvmail.com/ , and I think UPS stores also have mail services. You have your mail forwarded to the mail service, they hold it until you contact them from time to time to have them forward your mail to General Delivery at a PO near where you're staying.

Or, you could have a family member provide the same forwarding service at a lower cost (perhaps).

It's helpful to select a forwarding service near the area where you'll be, because you'll have a shorter delay between when you ask to have mail forwarded and when you can pick it up at the PO. Here's a link to the USPS locations ( http://www.uspspostoffices.com/ ). Be sure to check the services for your pickup location. Not all POs provide General Delivery.

Larger packages, not delivered by the USPS, can be sent to many UPS or FEDEX "brick and mortar" locations. They'll hold a package for pickup for a small fee.



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Old 11-30-2014, 06:27 AM   #3
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You didn't day, but are you full timing, or is there a "Bat Cave" somewhere? If your banking is done online and all bills are auto pay, then the bulk of your mail is probably junk mail. Do you really care if Smith Motors has a "deal you cannot pass up" or Bed, Bath, and Beyond sends you a $5 off coupon?

Family and friends can contact you by cell phone. And you didn't say how you are receiving mail now. At an aforementioned bat cave? At a PO box? When I go away for an extended period, I have a neighbor's 11 year old son feed/water the 3 now tamed feral cats (all from the same litter and abandoned by the mother 5 years ago) that live in our yard and shelter on our back porch. He also picks up the mail, most of which is junk, and puts it in a box on the back porch. All you need to do is find someone you trust to collect it, whether from your mailbox or PO box. They can even call you if they see an envelope or package they may think is important. It shouldn't be a problem as long as it doesn't pile up somewhere.


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Old 11-30-2014, 06:44 AM   #4
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My local postmaster said there would be a delay in just starting to forward the mail. Since we spend the winter mostly in one location we have our mail on hold at the post office. An authorized relative picks it up about once a week, sorts out the important stuff, shoves it into a priority envelope that I have bought and affixed stamps on, and sends it to us addressed "general delivery" to the post office near where we stay. If we move locations we could use general delivery to that post office. All our banking and bill pay is done online except our monthly fuel bill. For that bill I made some copies of a previous statement and just mail in one every month as it is always the same amount. Any purchases we make online get shipped to the campground we stay at.
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Old 11-30-2014, 06:46 AM   #5
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We have the local PO hold our mail. Go to PO, tell them to put a stop on your mail till you pick up and tell them resume your mail. No fee. Carl
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Old 11-30-2014, 08:11 AM   #6
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The Post Office has a form to fill out to have your mail held, it is a yellow card on which you put in your name, address, and when to start holding your mail. It states on there that they will hold mail a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 30 days. We are out for 3 months in the winter so we need to have someone pick it up regularly. We live in a small town and I went to school with our mail carrier so she is very accommodating to our frequent holds for short trips.
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Old 11-30-2014, 10:11 AM   #7
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This is where I collect my junk mail

When we are on the road I just remove the false bottom in the mail box and collect my junk mail until we get home. I tried having the USPS help us but they screwed it up and we came home to a stuffed mailbox.

Hey Dude,
Sounds like your agenda is similar to ours. Will you be attending the Southwest Scamp Camp? If so we will see you there or maybe somewhere else on the road.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BatDude View Post
We plan to be on the road for 5-6 weeks starting mid January. First for a bat project along the Lower Colorado River between AZ and CA for 3-3.5 weeks. After that we plan to travel a bit and visit some of the SW states and national parks. All below the freeze line if possible. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Those of us tropically adapted do not do so well in Michigan.

Our biggest concern now is mail. What do most full & part timers who are away from home more than a week do about mail?

When we lived and worked in Central America we established on-line banking for our U.S. accounts. So banking is not an issue as everything (well most except some research project funds) are direct deposit and bills are all auto-pay from our accounts).

Mail is our one big concern.

Any suggestions welcomed.

Bat Dude
For between 3 and 30 days I have the USPS hold my mail. There's an onling form you can fill out. For longer periods there's a form for mail forwarding that has a check box for "temporary". A temporary forwarding can be done for over 30 days up to 6 months. It can be renewed for another 6 months.
We forward what little mail we get to our daughter. Every couple of months we have her package it up and send it to General Delivery where we happen to be.
The only problem with the temporary forwarding is magazines. They'll only forward them for 2 months and inform the magazine the you've moved.
USPS also has a for pay system that's I think is pretty expensive. You can find out about it all on their website.
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Old 11-30-2014, 12:07 PM   #9
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About the only thing I use mail for is bills.

I've set up on line bill notification & paying for all but a few accounts that won't do it. Either my son or a friend takes a photo of any other important mail & emails it to me. Worked for a 305 day trip.
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Old 11-30-2014, 08:18 PM   #10
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Tnx all for the many replies.

As I noted I was planning to be on the road for 5-6 weeks and now my wife suggests more like 2.5-3 months or until the snow is gone in Mich. LOL.

We will not be in one place for very long. I am aware of USPS mail forwarding and mail hold. All can be done on-line so that may be the option with having it held then forwarded from time to time.

The only thing we are concerned about is the electric and gas bill that varies depending on use. We are working on setting that up as auto-pay as well. If we can get that completed then not too much to worry about.

As we have lived outside of the country for the past 25 years and only been here 2 years we are not on many junk mail lists.

The good thing about USPS mail forwarding is they do not forward junk mail.

Thanks especially to Ron_F for the two links to RV mail forwarding services. Very helpful.

Not likely gonna be full timers in a 16' Scamp, no place for any of the stuff I need for work, like computers, fast broadband internet etc.

Who knows. if we like this we may up size to a 19' 5th wheel Scamp then maybe full timing becomes an option?

Oh we do not have TV (did not have it for 25 year in the jungle) so will not need it on the road, nor a smart phone. Only Verizon wireless home/base phone that will work on the road.

I am getting a Verizon mobile hotspot for email and limited data transfer.

Still on the steep end of the fiberglass learning curve and appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions.

Cheers
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:21 PM   #11
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Before you decide what you're going to do, I strongly suggest you go to your local post office, the one that uses your zip code. Talk to them about your plan. The sooner you do that the better.
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Old 12-01-2014, 06:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BatDude View Post
Tnx all for the many replies.

The only thing we are concerned about is the electric and gas bill that varies depending on use. We are working on setting that up as auto-pay as well. If we can get that completed then not too much to worry about.
If you can afford to do it, you can estimate your gas/electric bills for the length of time that you'll be on the road and send that amount before you leave. They'll be happy, you'll have peace of mind and if you send them too much, they'll just apply the overage to your bill after you return.

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Old 12-01-2014, 06:22 AM   #13
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Also, if you cannot set up autopay for that particular vendor, perhaps they can send your bill electronically. I do not have autopay on anything because I do not want to give anyone free reign to access my accounts, other than the IRS, and I can't keep them out! However, I check my email when on the road and if I get a bill, I pay it on line. Works fine.


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Old 12-01-2014, 12:23 PM   #14
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For bills that you don't or can't set auto pay, or don't want to, there's other options. First off you know or should know when those bills are due. It's not that hard to set up a computer system to keep track of when they're due. Most places have an on-line system that you can check for exact amount, if not a simple phone call answers the question.
We have at least one bill that was on automatic pay, they screwed up and didn't take their due for 3 months. I figured that if they had such poor control that they could go one way they could go the other. Now they're on send bill and I'll pay, except sometimes it'll be a couple months before I see the actual paper bill. A call and a credit card take care of it.
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