For VacationCounts readers living in America, telling the U.S. post office to hold your mail is an easy way to make sure it is minded while you are traveling. One limitation is that you can only put your mail on vacation hold for up to 30 days. Therefore this cannot work for people who have a vacation home, travel extensively, or for expats that are out of the country for extended periods.
The other limitation with USPS vacation mail hold is that you cannot view and respond to important bills and letters when you are away from home. Without a family member or trusted friend that is willing to put in the time and effort to not just pick up your mail but go through each piece, what other options exist?
Fortunately there are several services that will receive mail on your behalf and offer ways for you to get it whether you are home or away traveling. Most of these services are a simple hold and forward operation. You redirect your important mail to an address and private mailbox assigned by your mail forwarding service provider. You may have the option to have it held while you are traveling and forwarded to any address worldwide when you need to receive it.
The advantage of a mail forwarder over the U.S. post office is the ability to have your accumulated mail sent to you regardless of whether you are home or away on business or pleasure. Some may even offer you the ability to discard your junk (bulk) mail so you save money by only forwarding the most important mail.
A virtual post box is also critical for those bloggers, freelancers, and self-employed people who run an online business. With a business mailing address, you won’t ever have to ever give out your home address on the Web or in email newsletter sent to your subscribers and customers. You can certainly rent a PO Box at your local post office or UPS Store, but you can save a trip to the mailbox by managing your mail online 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
The most advanced service is delivered courtesy of Earth Class Mail. They offer a Virtual MailBox Service that goes beyond the hold and forward model. The biggest difference is their scan-on-demand capability so you can preview and view your mail online.
How does this work? Here is what typically happens when you are using Earth Class Mail (ECM):
Trust is a natural concern for most of us who first learn about virtual mail services and are unfamiliar with Earth Class Mail. To address these concerns, ECM offers several layers of protection which are outlined on their site. This includes security cameras, locked down mail processing rooms, secure data centers, and encryption of files. Is it any more or less secure than letting your mail pile up at home (unlocked mailbox on the street) while you are away for an extended period?
Now as with any service for those who travel often for pleasure or business (plus those who live part of the year at their second home) there are both pros and cons. The pros are highlighted in the overview above but here is a list of the reasons why you would consider a virtual mailroom service:
Now there are several considerations when it comes to choosing a service that offers mail holding and forwarding services whether that is Earth Class Mail or a less advanced option. Based on my use over the past years these are the important points to be aware of:
To use ECM efficiently and keep your monthly fees low, there are a number of suggestions to keep in mind.
This article should have helped you decide if a mail hold and forwarding type service is right for you and if Earth Class Mail is the best mail option for frequent travelers, business executives, people with second homes, and expats that live and work abroad. For many it is the right step to take to free themselves to travel, live, and work wherever they choose.
Here are two screenshots of how it looks when you securely login to their website to manage your mail from your computer. The mobile web interface is mostly the same.
There is a sense of freedom that comes with not having to worry about your mail piling up, getting lost and being ignored. If only the U.S. Post Office offered this service, but I don’t expect that to be happening anytime soon. So when you are often away from your primary home, make the decision to save time, be more productive, and feel more secure about receiving and dealing with your bills and important mail online.
Your next step is to review their Virtual Mailroom options and do some calculations in your head. Figure out how much mail you expect to receive and what is the best address for your mail receiving needs. The Earth Class Mail pricing page details the options and you can sign up right away. Give it a test drive first before redirecting important mail and accounts and using your new address for your family and for your business.
Disclaimer: Meliovation, the parent company of the VacationCounts blog has been a satisfied customer of Earth Class Mail since 2011. If you decide to try out any of the service providers in this article using our partner links, Meliovation may receive affiliate compensation for the new customer referral. Thank you for supporting VacationCounts and our efforts to help people take more time off!
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