How I Get My Mail While Globetrotting

Working and living at sea,
sailing from one itinerary to another,
ending my day in one port and waking up the next day in another port
(sometimes in a different country) —
how in the world do I receive important mail?

Yes, I still get snail mail.

I also occasionally shop online. 😉

So how do I get them delivered to me while I’m sailing around the world?

I have two ways…

#1 – Via Port Agents

Working on ships, I can ask our Purser or Crew Office for a list of all Port Agents’ addresses — e.g. the address of the ship’s port agent in Miami if it’s part of our itinerary. The port agent will receive mail at their address and deliver them when our ship arrives in port.

If it’s mail that I am expecting and I can give the sender a different address each time mail is sent to me, then this way of receiving mail is good enough.

I just have to estimate when my mail will arrive and where in the world I’ll be around that time. So, for example, if mail will take about 2-3 weeks to arrive and 2-3 weeks from now my itinerary will be Central America, I just pick one of those ports and give the port agent’s address to the mail sender, and hope that I get my mail.

#2 – Via Mailbox with Mail Forwarding Service

Fortunately for me, there exist these mail-forwarding services.

These services are useful to all sorts of people, but most especially for:

  • nomads, like myself
  • those expecting to receive mail at any time wherein the sender does not advise before sending mails, e.g. mail from the bank
  • those receiving mail or parcels of U.S. origin
  • those who want a physical address and not just a P.O. box — goods cannot be delivered to P.O. boxes
  • those who want forwarding service — a P.O. box won’t do this for you
  • those who like to do online shopping and want to consolidate packages — to save money on delivery charges

I know of these companies…

Shipito (USA to anywhere)

This is the one I’ve actually been using for years. They have 2 flavors of mailbox service:

  • Individual Packages
  • Virtual Mailbox

For details, the best source of information is their website. I’ll keep it simple and just say here why I picked Shipito

No Monthly Fees for the “Individual Packages” Service

I only spend when somebody actually sends me mail. Main thing for me is: I don’t want to have monthly expenses for a service that I would only use 2 or 3 times a year, on average.

Once mail arrives, Shipito informs me. Then I log in and decide how it will be shipped to me and by which courier service. I can also decide to not have it sent to me and ask them to trash it, if I know that that piece of mail has no value to me.

If you like shopping and expect to receive several pieces of mail in a month, then you might opt for “Virtual Mailbox” which will cost you around $4 to $10 a month. With that service, they’ll collect your packages and ship them to you all in one go.

My Shopping Box (USA to Philippines only)

I know about this company because every so often my Philippine bank would send promotions about it. It’s affordable, but I haven’t had any reason or need to use it. They only do forwarding to the Philippines, which means nothing to a seafarer like me. It’s good for Philippine-based shopaholics though.

They only have one U.S. address for you to use but they ship directly to your door anywhere in the Philippines, and the rates seem reasonable. I’m making a note of it here in case I decide to do some major online shopping later.

Shipping Cart (USA to Philippines only)

[Added 01 June 2016]

Another company discovered via my Philippine bank. According to their FAQs page, they have a Customer Care team in the Philippines.

I find the following item in their FAQs interesting…

Is my item/s safe at my Shipping Cart U.S. Address?

Yes. Only Shipping Cart employees who are trained in all Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules and regulations will have access to your goods.

Hmm… Does having TSA-trained employees really mean safety of my package whilst in storage? :-/

Traveling Mailbox (USA to anywhere)

This one I discovered just recently while composing this post.

There is no zero monthly plan. The cheapest is $15 a month.

Interesting company. They have more physical addresses for you to choose from, and more features to their services. Just visit their website and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s excessive for me though. So unless I’m busy like a bee and receiving over a dozen mail and parcels a month, I have no need for this one. But I’m adding it to my post here because I want to be able to find it again in the future… just in case 😉

Share what you know…

Do you know of other mailbox mail-forwarding services out there? I’d really like to know about them! 🙂

I’m also interested in affordable Philippine-based mailbox services with mail-forwarding as well as pickup options. I’ve been searching high and low. Either Google doesn’t know everything or such companies really don’t exist.

Post a comment or zap me a Twitter tweet. Comments here are all moderated and may take a while to appear. Needless to say, spam will not be approved for posting. 😉

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About the Author: Evelyn Yap

The Cruising Shutterbug. Seafarer. Photographer. Nomad. Chinese material, made in the Philippines, God's property.

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