Friday, March 02, 2012

Mail at Sea...

As usual, being home has opened up a flood gate of questions for Scott and I from friends, family and strangers alike.  One question we got recently was about mail.  Namely, if and how we get it when we're at sea...

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):
  1. Provide you with a land-based 'address' - usually a PO Box which is assigned to only you.
  2. Sort out the obvious "junk" mail and toss it out for you
  3. Scan the envelopes of the "other" mail and put it online where you can log in and see it.  
  4. 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!

7 comments:

Mar Azul said...

Our experience with mail forwarding over the past year has been positive. We find that most mail can be handled electronically and few items need to be held or forwarded. We have worked to reduce paper mail and have gotten the monthly cost down to between $30 - $35 per month, not including any shipments. More than we had hoped, but necessary for our needs right now. For those wishing a Florida-based service, we can give St. Brendan's Isle high marks.

Windtraveler said...

Great info -thanks Mar Azul! Good to have feedback from someone who has used this service!

Carolyn Shearlock said...

We used Voyagers Mail Handling Service in Islamorada and I highly recommend them (friends also used them).

My one BIG recommendation is that if you're going with a service instead of a family member, make sure they're used to dealing with cruisers . . . our needs are different from traveling entertainers, RVers in the US and so on.

Another good thing that Voyagers offered is a "good-bye year" where they're no longer really handling your mail (once you've stopped cruising), but they will hold and forward those odd bits here and there where you forgot to do a change of address (the postal service won't do a standard forwarding from what's called a "private mailbox" service).

Mail Forwarding Services said...

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

Paul A. said...

Good info. All the bits and pieces add up. It not as easy as casting off lines and waving bye. Thanks.

jorg gray said...

Forward your mail to your new address with Royal Mail's Redirection Service. Get great home move offers and reduce your risk of ID fraud Mail forwarding benefits.

Jim Paar said...

Great article, I have traveled from port to port over the last 8 years and cam across this site www.goodsammailservice.com which I was using for the last 15 years when on the road.

The SUPER cool thing with Good Sam Mail Service is they scan all your mail and you can choose whatever you want deleted, print anything, or even request to have certain things mailed to anywhere your at. I have tried several options and this technology blows all the other companies away, I've tried them all.

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