One of the most common questions we deal with is how we manage postal mail while moving around constantly with our digital nomadic lifestyle. While living in the cloud is ideal for 90% of everything you need to do to manage your business and life, there’s that pesky 10% which refuses to go paperless. Here are the options you have to manage and deal with physical mail when you’re location independent…
How To Receive Mail While Overseas
Maintain A Private Address
This is the cheapest solution but relies on having someone you can trust (family, ideally) to deal with your mail.
Your “mail agent” needs to be someone who:
- You can trust
- Is efficient & organised
- Doesn’t mind doing this task
- Doesn’t mind you using & giving out their mailing address
- Is also unlikely to be moving house any time soon
You’ll need to ensure you set up any re-directs from existing correspondence addresses you use and that you remember to use this address going forward. Having multiple addresses that you’ve used for various services/companies is confusing, unwieldy to manage and unnecessary.
Top Tip: 3-4 months before you leave, start keeping a spreadsheet record of all the mail you receive and begin to contact them to change your mailing address. Not only will you then be likely to have covered all the people who send you mail, you’ll also have a handy list of all the businesses/services who have your address should you need to change it with them in the future.
Use An Online Postal Box
This is the more costly but perhaps more permanent solution for those of you who plan to live a nomadic life for the foreseeable future. There are a number of online postal mail solutions to check out, including:
Here’s how they work:
- Both of the above provide you with an address which remains yours while you’re a subscriber to the service (for a monthly fee).
- You use that address as your correspondence address and whenever you receive email, you’ll be notified by email that you’ve received something (and receive a scan of the envelope/external package)
- When you log in to the service, you’ll have a number of options:
- To have the mail opened/scanned & emailed to you
- To have it archived
- To have it forwarded to somewhere
- To have it recycled
- To have it shredded
The only drawback with these services is that they can become expensive to maintain if you only receive the occasional mail. Earth Class Mail also have a check-deposit service making this pretty handy for business owners who still receive physical checks which need cashing.
How To Send Mail While Overseas
If you need to send mail while overseas, there is sometimes no substitute for heading to the nearest post office and popping your letter/parcel in the post box. On occasion however, there are ways you can send something offline online (an online service which prints and mails out for you). The following may be of use:
- Send physical greetings cards online with Hallmark or Moonpig
- Send physical mail online with Postful (letters) or Hazelmail (custom postcards from photos)
The above are exceptionally useful if you’re in a remote location or unable to speak the language at a post office and you want a quick and easy way to physically mail someone while you’re overseas.
Other Tips For Managing Mail
There are a number of things you can do to help keep the process of managing postal mail while travelling simple and easy. They include:
Reducing the amount of mail you need to send & receive by:
- Moving to online statements & correspondence with banks, credit cards & other statement-based services.
- Reducing junk mail & removing yourself from junk mail lists. Here are a few handy guides to do this:
Sending signed documents, where possible, by email by using tools such as:
The key to managing your postal mail while you’re travelling round the world as a location independent professional is to put everything in place *before* you leave – don’t leave it until the last minute or until you’ve actually hit the road.