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Priority Mail: Forwarding Mail on the Road

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Motorhome travelers can easily arrange to have their mail forwarded to them while they are on the road by using the U.S. Postal Service’s Priority Mail. 

The first and most important step is to find a reliable person who is willing to retrieve your mail from your home mailbox, put it into an envelope and then send it to you on the road.

Ideally, the person who is looking after your house will also be willing to forward your mail. Tell them you will call periodically to let them know where it should be sent.

When you are ready to receive your mail, identify a town you will be staying in or passing through in about five days. We suggest choosing a small town. You will have an easier time locating the post office (there may only be one) and you will probably have an easier time finding a parking space for your motor­home. Our experience is that small town post offices seem to keep better track of general delivery mail.

Keep in mind that not all post office branches will receive and hold general delivery mail. Once you have selected the town where you would like to receive your mail, call USPS customer service at 800-275-8777. They will tell you which post office branch in that town is set up to receive general delivery mail. They will also provide you with that post office branch’s ZIP code, street address and, in some cases, directions on how to get there. 

The U.S. Postal Service’s website (www.usps.com) will also provide the location and ZIP codes of the post office branches but, for some reason, it does not identify which branch will receive general delivery mail.

We suggest you have your mail forwarder send your mail in a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope or box. The Postal Service claims Priority Mail will arrive at its destination within the United States in two to three days. Our experience is that it usually does. 

Be sure to use the Priority Mail envelopes that have the words “Flat Rate” printed on them. Your mail forwarder can stuff the Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope with as much mail as it will hold and send it to any town in the United States for the 1-pound postage rate regardless of weight and distance. Remind your mail forwarder, however, that security regulations require any envelope weighing more than 13 ounces be personally handed to a postal employee. 

By the way, for a small fee your mail forwarder can have the post office add a tracking number to the envelope they are sending you. If the envelope goes astray, the tracking number will make it easier for the post office to locate it.

You can make life easier for your mail forwarder by providing a supply of Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes and sufficient stamps or money for postage. Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes are free and available at most post office branches. Prepaid (stamped) Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes can be ordered online at www.usps.com for the price of the postage.

When you are ready to receive your mail, ask your mail forwarder to put the items into a single envelope and address it as follows: 

  1. Your Name
  2. c/o General Delivery
  3. City or Town, State, ZIP Code 

The receiving post office will hold your mail for up to 30 days before returning it to the sender. Retrieving your mail is simply a matter of going to the post office and showing the clerk your personal identification.

You might be able to have your mail sent to the park where you’re staying. Before you make arrangements, however, call the campground and ask if it has a procedure in place for handling guests’ mail. If the campground does not have a procedure – or if it’s one that doesn’t inspire confidence – you will want to make other arrangements. It is a good idea to have your mail forwarder make a note of your arrival date on the lower left corner of the envelope, just in case the envelope arrives at the park before you do. 

Visit the Kievas’ website at www.rvknowhow.com

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