Last Update: 10/28/2016

Pick Up Mail and Packages on the Road

US Air Force dropping packages by parachute. That’s one way to get your mail while traveling!

Your van life is on the move – you’ve gone OTR. So where you gonna collect your mail and package shipments when just passing through an area? Vanholio’s got solutions!

Easy Situation — You Know the Carrier

Whether you’re ordering online, getting a bundle of mail forwarded by your private mailbox company, or Momma’s sending you her “special brownies,” you might well know ahead of time what carrier’s being used to ship.

USPS (United States Postal Service)

Get the envelope or package shipped to General Delivery at a town you’re passing through:

Your Name
General Delivery
Post Office Street Address
City, State, XXXXX-9999

Always use that 9999 as the +4 for your General Delivery post office ZIP.

You can also have your USPS mail automatically forwarded from your normal address to another address, including General Delivery at any post office. This works better when you’re gonna be in one location for a while. It’s a pain in the ass when you’re moving around a lot, honestly.

Canada Post does things basically the same way as USPS. Check their website for specifics.

UPS (United Parcel Service)

Have the shipment sent to a convenient UPS Customer Center or a The UPS Store location. The Customer Centers are the shipping depots, and they have limited locations and hours open to drop by. The UPS Stores have more locations and better hours, but they usually charge you $5 per envelope and $10 per package received (unless you have a mailbox there).

FedEx (Federal Express)

Like UPS, you get your package sent to a FedEx Distribution Center or to a FedEx Office location (used to be Kinko’s). Again like UPS, the distribution centers are more scarce and with scarce customer hours, but FedEx Office storefronts are more convenient. But unlike The UPS Store, FedEx Office won’t charge you for receiving your package.

While not a carrier per se, now has the Amazon Locker service, where you can pick up and drop off Amazon purchases any time at their location. I haven’t used one, but looking the site, it looks like they leave your package in something like a bus locker.

Walmart, Other Retailers

Some retailers will let you pick up online orders at their retail locations. Vanholio orders stuff from, the picks it up from a store I'm passing by – all the fucking time. No shipping fee, neither.

Trickier Situation – You Don’t Know the Carrier

Sometimes you don’t know how an envelope or package is being sent until after the fact., for example, usually uses UPS or USPS, but you can’t choose when you order. And sometimes they throw a curveball and do FedEx or even DHL. What then? Good news is usually you get a tracking number and carrier name. If they don’t tell you, ask! Not a whole fucking lot you can do otherwise.

Well, that’s not entirely true. In the case of FedEx and UPS, they’ll hold the package at their depot for a bit after a failed delivery attempt. You might be able to intercept it there before it gets returned to sender. USPS doesn’t hold shit – it goes right the fuck back.

USPS (United States Postal Service)

You can redirect most USPS mail or package that has a tracking number and hasn’t yet been sent out for delivery from the destination’s post office. But the fucker’s will change you $12.55! This magic service is called “Package Intercept.”

UPS (United Parcel Service)

Using UPS My Choice and the tracking number, you can change the package delivery address to a home address, UPS Customer Center, or a The UPS Store location.

Note that if the original delivery address was a commercial address (e.g., USPS General Delivery or your mailbox service), you can’t do that yourself online. But you can contact their customer service and they’ll do it manually. No biggie.

FedEx (Federal Express)

These fuckers are a bit different. FedEx normally only allows the sender to change the delivery address, so you’ll have to call the sender and get them to do it for you.

There is an exception: FedEx Redirect to Hold. This is an added-cost service option for the sender. If they’ve paid for it, the receiver can request to pick up the package at a FedEx Distribution Center or FedEx Office location.

Worry-Free Situation – Private Mailbox Services

If you’ve gotten your mail and packages sent to your private mailbox service, such as Traveling Mailbox (which I reviewed last week), they’ll usually forward them to you just about anywhere. You pick the destination and carrier.

Vanholio’s also been told that multi-location storefront mailbox services, like The UPS Store and Mailboxes Etc., can forward your shit to another one of their storefront locations, too. Not sure what the charge is, but likely reasonable.

International Situations? – Fuck if I Know

I barely touched on Canada Post doing General Delivery. That’s all I know. Vanholio sure don’t know shit about Mexico or anywhere else outside the USA.

If you, Dear Reader, would send Vanholio the info to vanholio69 AT gmail DOT com, I’ll do a followup post and give you credit. Inquiring van lifers want to know!!!

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

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