We thought that we were well prepared and ordered all the essentials through Amazon before we started our road trip. That quickly turned out to not be the case. Getting packages delivered can be a little tricky. There are mail forwarding services that will hold your mail for you and send you a bundle of your accumulated mail to your current location.
This may or may not be a good option for you, depending on your needs. Tyler and I have all our bills/statements set up electronically, the rest of our mail goes to a relative’s address and is stored in a box. If we have something important getting mailed to us, we just ask them to keep an eye out for it. In our situation, getting a mail forwarding service would be a necessary expense.
Even with mail forwarding services, there is still a time delay from when they receive your mail to forwarding it to your current location. In short, Amazon’s trademarked “Two-Day Shipping” will not arrive to you in two days.
Mailing a Package to a Campground
This is the easiest option and it’s best practice to let the campground know that you are expecting a package. They can accept the package for you and give you a call so you can pick it up. If you opt for this option your address label should look something like this:
YOUR NAME SITE #
C/O NAME OF CAMPGROUND
CITY, STATE, ZIP
The “c/o” part is an abbreviation of “care of”. This part is important for anything that is shipped through the post office (USPS). Technically, if you are not officially registered to receive mail at the address on the shipping label, they can return the item as “undeliverable” due to postal regulations.
Always remember to include your full name. I also recommend checking in with the campground and get permission before having your package shipped to their address. Most campgrounds, RV parks, Hotels, etc. will allow it, but it’s best to confirm.
This is an easy option but what if you don’t exactly know when your package will arrive? Or if there is a delay? Or you don’t want to stay at a campground? If your mail gets delayed you are now paying for more nights at your campground and this can quickly add up.
Tyler and I try to avoid commercial campgrounds and RV parks. We don’t like how crowded and costly they can be. We stay at State/National campgrounds but we love free camping/ boondocking.
Get Package Shipped to Local Post Office
You don’t have to have a PO Box to receive mail at the post office. “General Delivery” is a service offered by USPS that lets you have your package sent to the primary post office in a given city or town. If a town has multiple post offices you will have to figure out which office is the main office and this can easily be done by calling. This is how your label should be addressed for General Delivery:
CITY, STATE, ZIP-9999*
* The Post Office recommends that General Delivery items have “-9999” at the end of the zip code so they can instantly identify the item as General Delivery Mail.
You can also check if General Delivery is available through the USPS mobile app. To do this you open the app and select “Locations”. You can use your current location to see the offices available in your area. When you click on a location it will show you service hours which is important to note since Pick Up Service hours might be different than normal business hours. I highly recommend the app, it’s an easy way to track your packages and get alerted when they are available for pick-up.
Getting Packages with UPS/FEDEX
If your package is being shipped through UPS or FedEx they might be able to hold the package at a local store for pick-up. This isn’t available at all stores and a fee might also apply. I’ve heard the UPS charges $5 for this. I recommend you call the local office and inquire about their policies and procedures.
Getting Packages from Amazon while Traveling
Amazon Prime is my best friend when we are on the road. Two-Day shipping has always been reliable and you can have it shipped to the RV park you are staying at using the first method I talked about.
If you are near a larger city you can also use the Amazon Locker service. These are physical lockers at various registered locations that you can choose to have your item shipped to and pick it up from there. Once your item is delivered, you are given a code that you use to open the locker and retrieve your item.
I haven’t used this myself. The time I tried, my item didn’t qualify due to its dimensions. But this could be an easy solution if you choose to use it.
Get Amazon Packages with General Delivery
General Delivery Mail is a service offered by USPS. The tricky thing about Amazon is that you do not know what carrier they used to ship your package until they ship it and give you a tracking number. To use General Delivery, we want Amazon to use the USPS. A trick that I’ve used is to add “PO BOX” in your address, for example:
PO BOX GENERAL DELIVERY
CITY, STATE, ZIP-9999*
The theory behind this is that having a PO BOX in the address will result in Amazon shipping the item with USPS since only USPS can deliver to a PO Box. However, Amazon can use a service offered by UPS. If you click on your tracking number from Amazon and see it was shipped using “UPS Sure Post”, don’t panic. I had a paddleboard paddle shipped this way and all that means is that they are using UPS to ship the item and UPS will deliver the item to the post office so that the post office can complete the delivery.
In my case, I was notified that the item was delivered to the post office and you too might get a message that the post office was “Unable to Complete Delivery”. This is fine, the had my package and all I had to do was pick it up from the post office.
You might find yourself in a particularly unique situation where you try to use this method and when you go to your cart, you see big red letters notifying you that the item can not be shipped to a PO Box due to policy.
They don’t specify why exactly an item doesn’t qualify and you can read more about this on Amazon, but it could be a number of reasons including the weight/dimensions/contents.
This is the pickle I found myself in when I had 11 items in my cart and 5 of them could not be shipped using PO BOX. But I don’t give up. One item in my cart that fell into this category was a Solar Power Bank and I really, really needed it. Well, my husband would tell you it wasn’t a “NEED”, it was a “WANT”, but I disagree.
So, I decided to try something and see what happens… my worst case scenario is that it gets sent back to Amazon in which case I would just get a refund. So this is what my address label looked like:
NAME / GENERAL DELIVERY
C/O GENERAL DELIVERY
CITY, STATE 78840-9999
I’m not exactly sure what lead me to this particular solution. It was some combination of desperation and scouring the internet for an answer.
So. Here’s what happened… it was shipped with UPS. (I tracked it like a hawk) It was “Out for Delivery” and it could not be delivered (not surprising) due to an incorrect address. I went to the UPS website, opted to speak with a customer representative through chat and I was able to pick up the package from the local distribution center at no charge.
Note that a Distribution Center is not the same as a UPS store. The representative will give you the address for pick up and hours for the pick-up time.
To say I was thrilled this actually worked would be an understatement. I used this method several more times and when we ordered out solar panels, I spoke to a representative before the package was out for delivery and arranged for it to be held and the distribution center gave me a call to let me know when it was ready!
While this worked for me, if you choose to do this or something similar you assume the risks that come with it. Hopefully, you found this helpful and if you any tips or shipping hacks, please share!