Why we needed a mailbox solution
We’re traveling indefinitely. We’re in our mid-30s with a kid. In the past we often used different friends’ addresses for receiving our mail, an option we’ve never really loved because our friends inevitably had to do work in taking care of our mail for us. We don’t want to burden our friends or families anymore with our often bureaucratic business of paperwork that arrives via snail mail. And despite trying to have everything electronic, mail still arrives! Enter: Traveling Mailbox
How we chose Traveling Mailbox
Julie did the research, finding this blog in particular very useful in comparing all the different options, and chose this company based on competitive pricing and positive reviews. We haven’t been disappointed and are now actively recommending them – they have an excellent and lucrative affiliate program too.
How does it work and what services are offered?
The basics are that they receive our mail and scan a picture of the envelope. There is a simple user interface for seeing the mail when it arrives and they send an email every time something arrives. We then select what happens next.
The various pricing packages determine how many page scans are included each month. We chose the package that allows for 80 pages per month ($25/month) and have not gone over that yet – we rarely get close to our limit. If the mail looks like something not worth scanning as part of our 80 pages per month, we could also choose to simply have the mail shredded and deleted from our account without ever having had the envelope opened (Sadly, Julie has to use this option every time she gets a new Oprah magazine every month; otherwise we’ll go through our allotted scans in just one piece of mail).
If something important arrives – new credit cards with awesome travel rewards, voter registration cards, health insurance cards, etc. we can have things forwarded. Depending on what’s being forwarded and where it’s being sent, costs will vary, and so far all costs have been reasonable.
And sometimes we get checks sent to us! Yes, people still write checks, and I won’t complain about receiving money in the mail. Traveling Mailbox has a solution for this. They have a check depositing feature. Provide your bank info and they will create a deposit slip for you. You choose what shipping you want, and they forward the check to your bank for you. We use the USPS Priority mail shipping option and along with the Traveling Mailbox service fee, a check deposit comes out to $10.70. Not great, but also not bad. For comparison, I get paid for my coaching business through PayPal services and they take a 2.9% cut for the invoicing. For a 3 month coaching fee of $447, PayPal takes $13.26. With a $10.70 Traveling Mailbox fee, maybe I should have everyone send me checks instead!
A feature I like is that I can set up various folders within my online mailbox to save scanned mail. There is a 60 day time limit for them holding physical mail for us (they will hold it longer for a fee). However, all electronic copies of our mail remain in our electronic mailbox for us to look at and access via PDF files whenever we need them. Very handy.
How does it get set up?
The nuts and bolts of the deal are that in the sign up period, there is a USPS form that must be completed that allows Traveling Mailbox to receive and open our mail on our behalf. They have this available and it’s easy to complete, though it did a notary. Not a showstopper, but certainly an extra step to be aware of. Once they have this approval, they are free to take care of our mail for us. Simple.
They then provide us with a physical address for receiving mail. We use this address for all our various accounts and for anything requiring a mailing address. We do still utilize our friends for a primary residential address but do our best to limit what gets sent to them. For filing taxes there wasn’t a clear answer about whether the Traveling Mailbox address could be used. They were clear with me that the Traveling Mailbox address could not be used for establishing residency, or at least they were not suggesting that we do this. However, we have been Washington residents (a no-state income tax state!) since 2007 so that was not an issue for us, and they had a Seattle option for a physical address; perfect! We now have a physical address (that we don’t have stuff sent to) and a mailing address that makes everything electronic for us, allowing us to be anywhere and still deal with our own bureaucratic snail mail stuff!
How much does it cost?
They have various payment options. We opted for the deal that was $25/month and had us paying for one year up front due to the better pricing. Paying month to month is also an option, as is switching plans along the way, either going up or down in price.
Customer service has been fantastic. They are very online-oriented and their online chat feature has been quick and efficient at answering all my questions and solving any potential problems before they became problems. Even working with their Affiliate Program director was a positive experience – he emailed me back within the hour!
I have no complaints yet. Maybe there will be some at some point, but after being a customer for about six months now, I am happy. In fact, even if we stay put somewhere for awhile and could have our own physical mailbox again, I could see continuing this service rather than dealing with my own mail!
Sign me up!
If you’re interested, check out their site. We recommend it.
We just sold our home in AZ (in 10 days) and were planning on rving in the summer months. Unfortunately there are no available spots in our area until the snowbirds go back home, so we will be nomads until we get settled sometime in May or June. Can I use the Phoenix, AZ as our permanent address since we will not have a permanent residence for about 6 months?
When we were setting up our Traveling Mailbox account, I asked a similar question regarding using the TM address as our permanent address. They were non-committal on whether it could be used for a permanent address – I was thinking about filing taxes and health care stuff that required an address when asking this question. My take is that it is probably fine to do, but at the same time, we keep a permanent address at a friend’s place while using our TM address for all mailing addresses.
I’ve read on other blogs of them skipping the friend/permanent address step, so that makes me think it’s doable.
Congrats on selling the home and becoming nomads – adventure awaits!!
have been using TM for close to a year now. I’m a full time RVer and travel nationwide. The service is incredible, and (at least at my location) the address is good as a permanent address – ie: DL, state income tax, etc.
absolutely love it.
the online chat personnel are always online within a minute or two and very helpful to someone like me who is not all that computer savvy.
absolute lifeline to me.
Thanks Thomas! Glad it’s worked so well for you too, and thanks for the intel on it working as a permanent address for you.
Is your address at a UPS Store or does TM own the facility that receives your mail?
BTW Urbyville, why isn’t there a way to receive email notifications on followup comments? No way I’ll remember to come back to this site in a day/week/month to check for replies to my question. Good way to drive traffic to your site too.
My understanding is that TM owns their own facilities. We can’t go and pick things up at their addresses like you could a UPS store.
And thanks for the FYI re the comments threads. I thought it was possible to choose to get notifications on comment threads. We’ll try to get that added b/c I agree, hoping to remember to check a thread for a response doesn’t sound like a good idea!
Thanks for the great info. Actually I have been searching for a reliable mail forwarding/scanning service (TM, US Global Mail, USA2ME and PostScanMail)
I am planning to move back to Taiwan (I live in Michigan for 20 years). Some banks told me I can not have a foreign address. But I do have my money if some banks here. Also I still have a few credits I need to use even I live abroad.
Are banks okay to accept the TM address? Also, how do you think about other companies like US Global Mail and PostScanMail?
All our financial institutions have been fine with the address.
We haven’t worked with any of the other services. And maybe it’s laziness, probably it’s that we’re happy with TM, we haven’t looked into any of the other ones since we went with TM years ago.
Best of luck with the move – sounds like a great adventure!
Cheers! – Matt