How to Get Mail on the Road using USPS General Delivery

posted in: Travel, Travel Tips, Van Camping | 18

It’s our first full day on the road of a three-month trip, we stop for lunch, and when it’s time to pay the bill my husband cannot find his credit card. Despite searching his pockets and my purse, we come up empty. After paying with an alternative card, we hurry to the car to check the floor and in between the seats to no avail.

Don’t you just hate that frantic feeling of losing something important?

He tries to recall if he had the card when he filled up the gas tank a few miles back. Ultimately, we come to the conclusion the last time we used the card was a few nights before at dinner.

As the GPS is telling us to get back on the highway, the hostess who answers the phone at the restaurant puts me on hold. She comes back on the line to tell me no one reported finding a credit card. I give her my phone number and hope to hear from her soon. 

Sometimes it's necessary to receive packages and get mail on the road. Lost your credit card? Need to order new contacts? It's not that difficult if you follow these steps. #traveltips #roadtrip

Travel Credit Cards

Seeing that we never heard back from the restaurant, the next step is to cancel the card and get a new one mailed to us. Since we are traveling long-term more often these days, we figured this scenario would come up one way or another.

Of course it happens when we opened this particular credit card specifically for the trip. Travel hacking with credit cards and loyalty programs is one way we fund our travels. After reaching the minimum spend within the first three months, we will receive a $150 bonus cash back plus this card has no foreign transaction fees for overseas travel. 

Needless to say, it was a priority to figure out how to receive packages while traveling. We picked up a new credit card in Florida with only a few issues, so I want to share the valuable information we learned with you.

What a way to start a three-month trip! And here is where I introduce general delivery USPS and how to get mail with no fixed address.

Looking for other Travel Tips?

Check out  Make your Next Trip Cheaper or How to Travel for Free

How to Get Mail while Traveling Using USPS General Delivery

Step 1: Pick a Location

Determine how long it will take to receive the mail. Each situation is different; it can be anywhere from two days to two weeks. Pull out the itinerary and figure out a location where you’ll have at least a few days buffer time in case it is delayed.

We learned this the hard way and had to call the credit card company back to resend the card again. Use the USPS Mobile App or website to find a general delivery post office on route.

Sometimes it's necessary to receive packages and get mail on the road. Lost your credit card? Need to order new contacts? It's not that difficult if you follow these steps.
Learn how to receive packages while traveling with the USPS Mobile App

READ NEXT: OTHER TIPS FOR LIVING ON THE ROAD

Step 2: Make sure the Post Office has General Delivery

What is general delivery? Post Office General Delivery is a worldwide service provided by the post office for people to get mail without a permanent address. To find USPS general delivery locations, go to the mobile app and choose location and under “Services Available” look for “General Delivery.” If it is not listed, pick another location. If you do not want to download the app and/or do not have access online, you can call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) and request Customer Service or find the local post office phone number and call them directly. 

UPDATE: I recommend the latter since we’ve had many followers mention they couldn’t get a hold of anyone at the basic 1-800 number. 

It’s a good idea to confirm with the local post office directly. Make sure even if you do not live in the area, you can still receive mail with general delivery. 

Sometimes it's necessary to receive packages and get mail on the road. Lost your credit card? Need to order new contacts? It's not that difficult if you follow these steps.
If sending mail to post office, make sure it offers General Delivery service.

Step 3: Address the Package or Letter Correctly 

General Delivery Address: In order for the letter or package to be sent General Delivery, you MUST address it in the following manner:

FULL NAME

GENERAL DELIVERY

CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE – 9999

Sometimes it's necessary to receive packages and get mail on the road. Lost your credit card? Need to order new contacts? It's not that difficult if you follow these steps.
How to Mail to Someone without an Address using USPS General Delivery.

Make note: there is no specific address, use “GENERAL DELIVERY.” Also, “9999” must follow the zip code.

ANGELA TRAVELS

GENERAL DELIVERY

PENSACOLA, FL 32502-9999

Step 4: Pick up Within 30 Days

Now let’s talk about how to pick up general delivery mail. Once delivered, the USPS General Delivery rules state they will only hold your mail for thirty days. Head to the regular line and bring proper identification when picking up your mail.

NOTE: We use the Tracking Identification Number to follow our packages to know when it arrives. If that’s not an option, you can call the local post office to find out if your letter or package has been delivered. 

Sometimes it's necessary to receive packages and get mail on the road. Lost your credit card? Need to order new contacts? It's not that difficult if you follow these steps.
How to Get Mail when RVing – USPS General Delivery is one of the options.

That’s it! Those are the four simple steps to getting mail via General Delivery when traveling if need be. Other than arriving too early in one location and having to request the credit card again, the process is smooth.

Tips for Receiving Mail or Packages at the Post Office

  • In the United States, USPS General Delivery is free but other countries may charge a fee.
  • Verify the item being shipped is via USPS; items shipped via FedEx or UPS may not be delivered.
  • If you are in a location like Florida, known for seasonal visitors, call the Post Office directly to make sure it is not an issue to use the General Delivery option. Because of the high volume of deliveries, these locations may limit the number of packages received or may need to add you to a list.
  • If you are accepting a large package, ask if there are size limitations. 

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links, if you book through our link we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting the blog!

Have you ever had to get mail on the road? What was your experience like? Let us know in comments section below!

18 Responses

  1. Leslie Davis

    The 800 number listed above does not give access to a customer service representative.
    Also just had an experience with the Post Office in Corsicana, TX today. They accept General Delivery, but only for people moving into the area. They told us that ‘Transients and Customers Not Permanently Located’ referred to homeless people. We usually don’t have trouble with General Delivery, but this time we did. Always call ahead to ask. We tried, but got a ‘not in service’ recording.

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Leslie. I just called the number and no issues speaking with someone so I’m not sure why you were getting a “not in service” message. Thanks for letting us know though about not being able to use GD in Texas. It’s always a good idea to call ahead. We’ve used it a few times in various states and have not had that problem before as long as the office states it had General Delivery.

  2. Auntie JPEG

    I recently learned that you can receive FedEx packages at Walgreens for no charge. They have info about it on the Walgreens website. I may need to use this in January when I am traveling to the Tucson, AZ area.

  3. monkey

    Just witnessed a pretty terrible thing at my local post office and wanted to warn others. 2 men came in to pick up general delivery packages. There were 4 of them. They were delivered through UPS and FedEx (not USPS) so the post office had to charge them for each package the full price of shipping that it would’ve been, even though they had already paid for the UPS and FedEx shipping. All in all, the 3 small-medium sized packages and one semi-large (but not huge) package were $150 to pick up. The guys were super distraught, and were confused why they’d never been charged before, but it’s because their other packages had been shipped through USPS, so it was free to use that service then.

    So, if you do plan to pick up mail on the road, MAKE SURE it is shipped via USPS or you could be in for a rude surprise! Anything UPS or FedEx should have other alternative shipping locations to pick up your packages for free, like Walgreens, or the UPS store.

    • Dang Travelers

      Yes, under the “Tips” section I have to make sure any packages are being shipped via USPS. I knew it was an issue but I had no idea it would be that much money! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Dang Travelers

    Some issuers will only ship to billing address but others are more flexible. We did indeed have a replacement card sent via General Delivery while out on the road.

    • Dang Travelers

      We follow our packages via their Tracking Number so we know when it arrived at the post office. I’ll update that info in the post! Thx for asking.

  5. Judith G Parker

    Great article, but I have an additional piece of information regarding the gentlemen whose items had been shipped general delivery via UPS and Fed Ex, picked up at the post office and had to pay additional shipping charges. .

    We’ve been full-time RVers for 8 years now, do a great deal of mail order shopping, and have had the same experience when having items sent general delivery from Amazon. After many futile conversations with Amazon, several nasty postal clerks and one actually hostile woman in Conway, NH, ~ $50 in double postage, and even a couple times chasing a UPS truck, we came across a nice, knowledgeable postal employee who gave us Information that has worked for us.

    If Amazon happens to ship an item labeled general delivery but there is an actual street address, the algorithm they use picks up the street address and the item may go by mail or UPS. At this point, if Amazon sends it UPS, and the post office accepts it, the post office has to handle the package, store it, and perhaps even return it without any fee for that service. If you have an item sent to a UPS store, you’ll pay a minimum fee of $5 for this, and it’s only fair.
    The key to shipping with Amazon to General Delivery is DO NOT put a street address- just your name, general delivery (we’ve been putting PO BOX on a separate line to be certain it’s picked up by Amazon’s computers), City, State, zip-9999. This will then go SurePost, which is a UPS service where a part of the shipping fee Amazon pays gets put on the package separately as USPS fee and everybody is happy.
    Definitely call the post office prior to having an item sent this way. We had one postal clerk who told us they were getting ready to return our item after one day, another town had us drive in and complete a form in person before they would accept mail, while others just take the info over the phone, and still others just ask your name and the dates you’ll be in that location, and other locations simply don’t handle general delivery at all.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Paul

    I am not sure about no credit card through general delivery as my bank sent it through Fed-Ex even though I requested general delivery. The statement about only sending it to the associated address is false though as the bank did send a replacement card to the address I requested. This was all done utilizing FedEx so general delivery might have different rules regarding that.

  7. Kenneth Musson

    I am from CA and traveling through Arizona. The first thing I did was to misplace my CDL. Nearly everything I purchased required proof, and apparently, I either did not recieve it after showing it, or I absent mindedly misplaced it. I had to return to CA to apply for the duplicate, but had it delivered GD to Arizona. I was not informed, nor required to add the ‘9999’ after the zip. I had the registration renewal sent to Flagstaff, and again, no ‘9999’ was required. The only issue I may have is my CDL address is Tonopah AZ and my vehicle registration address is Flagstaff AZ. All the other mail is sent to a street address in my home town, and once a month or so my friend addresses a large envelope to a general delivery address where I show my ID, and recieve my envelope. In the AM, I will beat the post office and ask about the ‘9999’ after the zip. Thank you for the information on this subject.

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Kenneth, Thanks for the additional information. We were told by a few different places to include the 9999 so we always followed the instructions. I’m glad you were able to receive your CDL without it though!

  8. Nasser Abbaszadeh

    Any ideas for sending packages to yourself in Europe? Does general delivery work in the old continent?

    Thanks.

    • Dang Travelers

      I don’t know much about it but some European countries do have Poste Resante, a general service where the office will hold mail. I’d look it up for the specific country.

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