Obviously, when we are living on the boat Scott and I don't have a mailing address. Before we left Scott and I had our mail forwarded to my parents house. It should be noted that we receive little to no essential mail so my lovely mother sorts through and throws out the junk and the catalogs -and saves the rest for us. If it looks important or urgent (i.e. a bill), she will open it and let us know what it is. She also has access to our bank account so in the rare event that a bill comes to the house (or we get a paycheck which actually does happen!) she can either take out or deposit money as needed (It should be noted that most of the very few bills we get come to us and are paid online). While this system works well for us, we realize not everyone has a) the luxury of wonderful parents who will accept the (mostly) junk mail from their adult child and her husband, b) might not want to forward their mail to another friend or family member or c) might be a little more 'important' and have more of a need to see their mail/bills more regularly and in a more organized/professional manner...to you folks, I introduce: Mail Forwarding Services.
Many cruisers we know enlist the services of a mail forwarding company to assist them with handling their land-based paper trail. While I have no experience with these companies and cannot suggest a specific one - doing a simple Google search for "Mail forwarding services for cruisers" will get you off to a good start. Most of these companies will do the following for a monthly fee (anywhere between $30-$40 per month):
- Provide you with a land-based 'address' - usually a PO Box which is assigned to only you.
- Sort out the obvious "junk" mail and toss it out for you
- Scan the envelopes of the "other" mail and put it online where you can log in and see it.
- From there you can select what you would like done with it: toss it, authorize them to open and scan it for you, or physically forward it to you.
Most companies offer additional bells and whistles on an a la carte basis like holding mail for you, shredding mail, bill payment services and more. If you do need to receive any mail, once you are in port or know you will be somewhere for a little while, oftentimes a marina or chandlery will offer you their address as a "ship-to" location for any mail you would like forwarded. It should be noted that if the company does need to forward mail for you, it will not come cheap so make sure it's important - you won't be needing that Pottery Barn catalog where you're going!