Once you leave your stick and brick house behind how will you do all of the things you take for granted?
Like walking out to your mail box to pick up mail?
How will you stay in touch with friends and family?
How do you take care of business on the road?
What about the internet?
Where can I register to vote?
- Cable TV Service
- Mail Service
- Satellite Service
- Voter Registration
How do you get mail on the road?
The U.S. Postal service can forward mail,but not on a regular basis. Once you leave your permanent residence you will need to find some sort of mail forwarding services. Some full-timers use a reliable relative willing to forward mail, but you still need some sort of address.
There are however Mailbox Services such as Mail Boxes Etc. MBE offers a mailbox with a real street address and 24-hour access* to mail and package deliveries. Additional services include mail forwarding**, fax receiving and the ability to call in and check for your mail and packages. You'll also find most of the postal products and services you need at any neighborhood The UPS Store or Mail Boxes Etc. location.
- UPS store: For about $39.00 a year we get a mailbox and they ship our mail to us where ever. They of course charge to do that. I started calling ahead to cancel all catalogs etc so I didn't have to pay additional charges for shipping. ~Sue
Before you ask to have mail forwarded you need to decide where you will be receiving your mail. One option is General Delivery in a town that you will be spending some time in.
To find out which post offices accept General Delivery go to the USPS web site, (under the Find a ZIP code) tab enter "General Delivery" in the Address line and the town and state you want. Or check the zip code directory (available at any post office) to find the correct post office; smaller towns will only have one, but if there is more than one post office, only ONE will accept General Delivery. For each state, the towns having only one post office will be listed on the first page; larger towns will be in the following section. Check the listings carefully if you're considering the suburb of a large city. The General Delivery for Tukwila, WA., for example, goes to downtown Seattle, where it can be quite difficult to park an RV!
Memberships that offer Mail Forwarding Services
Good Sam/America Home Base (Florida address)
American Home Base, Inc. developed its mail forwarding program with part-time and full-time travelers in mind. AHB receives and forwards your mail to any destination you request, at your convenience, and on your schedule. Because they are located in Florida, many members choose to establish Florida residency to avoid costly state income taxes.
American Home Base, Inc. is a total contact mail forwarding service meeting the needs of full-time and part-time travelers since 1990. They are registered with the United States Postal Service as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agent (CMRA) and serve a diverse group of clients including armed forces personnel, contract workers working abroad as well as within U.S. borders, sailors, RV'ers, traveling professionals, and small businesses.
Escapees (Texas address)
The Escapees Mail Forwarding Service is a licensed commercial mail-receiving agent designed for RVers and managed by experienced full-time RVers. Unlike many mail services, you can set your own schedule and make mail handling choices. Also, you are not limited to first-class mail. They accept and forward packages as well as certified and registered mail. They can ship your mail to you via UPS, USPS or FedEx
Passport America/MyRVmail.com (Florida address)
Selecting a mail forwarding service is an important decision. At MyRVmail.com, we take this responsibility very seriously. As a member of our mail service you will come to enjoy our personalized service and our attention to detail and accuracy. During business hours we always answer our phones with a live person. If you are looking for a specific item, we are happy to go over your mail over the phone if necessary. Our customized business software helps you keep track and manage every item in your mailbox.
If you would ever like to visit or take a tour of our Mail Facility, we are located just outside of Pensacola Florida in the city of Crestview. Many of our clients are full time RVer's, Florida is an ideal state to establish your residency and to register your vehicles. Florida has no state income tax and tag registration is very economical. As part of our mail forwarding service we can assist you with instructions for these important administrative matters and answer any questions you may have. In addition we can provide assistance with these other administrative matters.
Banking is fairly hassle free now a days, especially if you choose a bank that has branches nationwide like Bank of America or Wells Fargo. Much can be done online and many banks offer online deposits using your phone.
Using Computers on the Road
Getting online on the road merits its own page. More about computers >>
Which cell phone plan is the best? How do you use your computer as a phone?
Verizon, Sprint or AT&T? How do you choose? The fastest cell phone speed is through Sprint while the most covered is Verizon.
Also see the computer page for information about using your computer as a phone and for fax service.
"We use Cingular and have found good service most places. We also bought a Wilson truckers antenna with a roof bracket on our 5er. This boosts the signal in places where reception is marginal. However, you cannot do internet from this service without buying the internet service package. When our contract runs out, we plan to check out Verizon which allows use of minutes for voice or internet."
~Cheryl (FOTR since 2003)
"Do what I did when we picked verizon, go to all the cell providers web pages and see if they offer Internet then look at their map of coverage for the U.S. see if if covers the area you want or need just keep in mind that your plans of travel will change as offers come in (at least ours does). Yes, verizon is a little more expensive but has great coverage we also do around 5000 plus minutes a month on the Internet. We home school over the Internet and all our play time on it so we get our moneys worth out of it. Keep in mind if you just use some sort of hand held device for Internet your very limited to pretty much just email you have no hard drive and cant store to much and I like having the full screen. I also use a Wilson antenna for the phone when needed and I got the antenna for my air card so when I need it."
"We have been very happy with Sprint. We are signed up for 500 anytime minutes and only pay $5 for the next hundred. Our plan includes free internet access which is great for checking email on the road."
~ Kimberly (FOTR since 1992)
Use your Computer to Make Calls
VOiP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet or through any other IP-based network. Learn more from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VOIP
Online Phone and Fax Services
When you are doing business on the road, staying in touch with your clients is vital. More than likely you will need to be able to send and receive faxes. Luckily, it is very easy to do even while traveling. Today there are several fax and voice mail service companies online. You will get a personal fax/phone number (it can even be an 800 number) for a nominal fee. You can even choose to pay by the month or by fax/call.
But how do you get the fax and messages? This is the best part. Faxes are sent and received through your email account so you can download and save them on your computer. Even print them out if you like. Voice mails are delivered as audio files that will open with players, such as Window Media or Real Player.
Online Fax and Voice Mail Services
- K7 free voicemail and inbound faxes. You cannot send faxes though.
- Kall8 toll-free numbers starting at $2 a month, plus 6.9 per minute for incoming phone calls and/or 6.9 per page for incoming faxes.
- CallWave Solutions faxes incoming and outbound about $10 a month, plus $10 set-up.
- J2 about $15 a month.
- FaxZero Send up to 2 outbound faxes for free per day. Faxes an ad to the recipient.
- EFax free to $20
- Skype free/nominal phone calls
K7 and Kall8
- With K7.net you get faxes and phone messages delivered to your email for free. The only catch is there must be some activity every month.
- For a base fee of only $2 a month you can get a toll free (800, 888) number through Kall8.com There is a nominal charge (nickels) for incoming calls.
"We use Kall8 for our messenger/pager phone. They let us keep the 800# we've had for years. This is our business phone line. It is running us about $4 a month - down from over $50 that the previous provider was charging. I'd been afraid to change it because we couldn't afford to loose the number - it's been one of our constant forms of contacts for the past 20 years.
With Kall8 we have it set up to deliver our voice mail messages to our email. Then I set an alert on my email to page my cell phone. I can return calls within 5 minutes from anywhere (clients can't get over our fast replies). I could have the calls sent straight to cell. But I prefer to not pay the 6.9 cents a minute on top of using cell minutes, so I just return the call. $2 a month plus 6.9 cents per minute. Faxes are 6.9 cents a page on the 800 account.
If you don't need a toll free number, I highly recommend K7. They will set you up with a free phone line for incoming calls and faxes."
Skype offers FREE Skype-to-Skype calls (including video) and using the service to call a land line or cell is about .02 in the US.
"I have a very musical, talented 5 year old child (who has been playing violin from 23 months and piano from 3 and is advanced in both) so it has been a concern as to how we will handle those needs as we fulltime around the world starting in Europe for the first few years.
I am now talking with the pianist who could teach her around the world and exploring the possibilities of her beloved violin teacher could continue her lessons with my child around the world thru Skype. (We will probably pick up lessons locally when we are in an exquisite 16th century villa rental in Spain for the winters...but still defining this).
I love out of the box thinking and creativity!"
~Lisa "SoulTraveler" (FOTR in Europe since 2006)
TV Satellite Dish
Talcoe Electronics - Portable satellite allow travelers and campers to take their existing satellite dish receivers from home and watch TV while on the go. Having a portable satellite dish has its advantages over a fixed mobile satellite system; for example sometimes you have to park your RV in a certain spot that might have trees that block the satellite signal. With a portable satellite dish simply put the satellite dish away from the RV where it is not blocked by the trees and run the coax cable back to the RV.
There is a Yahoo Group with many brains to pick at RVInternetBySatellite
More information about satellites on the computer page>>
What It Is The National Mail Voter Registration Form is the one document that allows you to register to vote from anywhere in the United States.
Where To Find the Latest Version In 2004 responsibility for developing the National Mail Voter Registration form was transferred to the newly formed Election Assistance Commission. Visit the EAC.GOV Web site for the latest version of the National Mail Voter Registration Form.