Anyone who has lived in a van or thought about doing so will know that one of the biggest struggles is getting mail and packages delivered. Some people choose to live in a van to to explore the world without being tied down by rent, while others end up living in a van due to the circumstances of life. No matter your reasons, you should know the options to easily get your mail and packages despite your lack of a traditional address.
There are several options to get your mail and packages while living in a van, including a virtual mailbox, mail forwarding, USPS general delivery, Amazon Lockers, and ship to stores. Lets explore these options more in detail.
1. Minimize Physical Items You Receive
To start yourself off on the right foot and minimize the need to get your mail and packages when living in a van, see what you can do to reduce the number of items you get. Start by minimizing how many items you order online. Follow this up by opting for digital versions of items whenever possible, including books, magazines, and newspapers. You can also get digital music, movies, and games instead of ordering physical copies to be delivered.
2. Use a Virtual Mailbox with Mail Forwarding Available
For those cases when you need an actual address, you can opt for a virtual mailbox with a mail forwarding service. These services will charge you a monthly fee and then give you a physical address you can use. They hold your mail and then send it to the address you specify, including some of the options below, such as USPS General Delivery, P.O. boxes, and family and friends.
If you need information quickly, you can also choose a virtual mailbox that offers package forwarding, mail scanning, a digital mailbox, and a domicile address.
3. Use USPS General Delivery Service
You may not have heard of USPS General Delivery, but this is an amazing service for those who are living in a van or are otherwise mobile. Canada Post offers a similar option. Just have your items addressed to:
[The Post Office Address]
[City, State, Postal Code]
When you are by the appropriate post office, you just go in and pick up your items. Keep in mind that you will likely need an ID to pick up your letters or packages.
Or Get a P.O. Box
You could also just get a post office box from the U.S. Postal Service. This way, you will not even need to interact with the employees to pick up letters. You just get a key to your box, and can use it right away. While P.O. boxes are safe, you should keep in mind that not all shippers will send to them and you will have to pay for the box.
Related – Ship to FedEx or UPS Centers
On a similar note, you can have your orders sent to a local FedEx Distribution Center, FedEx Office, UPS Customer Center, or UPS Store instead of an actual address. Just keep in mind that these locations can be scarce with limited hours and may charge fees for the service.
4. Use Amazon Lockers
If you are one of the many people who want to order their items from Amazon, then you are in luck, as Amazon makes it easy to get packages even if you do not have a physical address in the traditional sense. You can use these lockers for picking up packages and even for making returns.
All you have to do to take advantage of this Amazon service is to select your Amazon Hub Locker location when you place the order. Amazon will deliver the package to the locker and then email you a notification. This notification will have a unique code that lets you know the times you can access the locker and the address. When you get to the location, you either use the barcode scanner or type in your code manually. The screen will tell you what to do, and your locker will open.
5. Find Options to Ship to Stores
If you want to buy from an online store that also has a physical presence, this could not be easier. You can usually just order your items online and have them delivered to the store for in-store pickup. You can do this at many major stores, including Walmart, Nordstrom, Target, Best Buy, and Macy’s. If you want to order something online from a specific store, it is worth taking a few minutes to check whether they offer this service; they likely do.
Best of all, there is usually no delivery fee involved when you ship to a store. You just have to plan ahead a little, so you know which store to send items to.
6. Ask Friends and Family
All the above solutions work well if you need a mailing address, but figuring out your residential address can be a bit more complicated. You need access to a physical residential address for things like your car registration, receiving IDs, voter registration, jury duty letters, official tax information, and other official documents.
In this case, you should see if you can find a friend or family member who is willing to let you put down their address. You would be able to use the above options in most of the cases and would only likely end up receiving mail at this address a handful of times per year. As such, many close friends or family members would likely be willing. If you don’t have that option, a virtual mailbox may be your best option.
If you go this route for packages, consider writing the person’s name on the package, followed by your name with C/O (“care of”) before. This way, they can pick up the package for you if it gets sent to the post office.
The thought of how to get your mail and packages when living the van life may be overwhelming at first, but it does not need to be complicated. There are multiple solutions available; you just need to choose which one works best for you.