Author Topic: Shipping Supplies to Yourself  (Read 2372 times)

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Offline spiewaker

Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« on: April 05, 2013, 09:45:44 am »
Hi everyone!  I am new to the community and about to embark on my first trip across the western part of the States!  I was wondering if anyone has advice about how to have items shipped to you on the road, ex. I need to buy something online or have a faimly member ship me a box.  What are good ways to do this?  I am thinking along the lines of a UPS store, or something like that, If I know I will be meeting a friend at their place along the way that would work, but that will not always be the case.

Thanks

Rob

Offline DaveB

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 10:07:52 am »
Try calling Fed Ex or UPS and see what they will offer in the way of holding a package for you at one of their locations.  I know after three attempts at home delivery for a package that requires a signature, they return it to the sender so you may not have a big time window to get it.   

I've never done it but I understand the US Postal Service will take packages addressed to "General Delivery" at a specific post office (by ZIP code I believe) and hold them for the addressee.  Contact your local Post Office to see how this is done.

Finally, bike shops are often used as drop-ship locations for touring cyclists but you better let them know in advance and be sure they are ok with it.

Offline geegee

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 10:09:31 am »
I've used General Delivery to a post office to send stuff I no longer needed ahead to my end destination. The post office will hold a package for 30 days, while the UPS Store generally charges $5 per package per week.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 10:37:18 am »
There's a fine art in shipping things to a cyclist on the road.  You guess how long it'll take the package to get to you, guess how long it'll take the person or company to actually ship the box, guess how far you'll ride in that total amount of time, and pick a post office in a small town(with zip code) off your AC map.  (Nowadays, of course, you can look the zip up on the web.)

USPS is the way to go.  They'll hold the package for you, and if you hit town 30 minutes after they close at noon on a Saturday, pull out a piece of paper, address it to "Postmaster," and ask them politely to ship it the the town you think you'll be in next Tuesday or Wednesday, fold it over, and drop it in the outgoing mail box inside the post office.  It's a free service from the Post Office.  (So far...)

You can ship to yourself on a one month trip, but if you're going longer than that, you'll need some one to ship to you.  Cell phones make it easier to stay in touch and request stuff; before cell phones and the web, AT through hikers had to send a post card from Hot Springs, NC asking friends or family to ship the box to Damascus, VA, where they'd send another post card, and so forth.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 10:50:50 am »
There's a fine art in shipping things to a cyclist on the road.  You guess how long it'll take the package to get to you, guess how long it'll take the person or company to actually ship the box, guess how far you'll ride in that total amount of time, and pick a post office in a small town(with zip code) off your AC map.  (Nowadays, of course, you can look the zip up on the web.)

USPS is the way to go.  They'll hold the package for you, and if you hit town 30 minutes after they close at noon on a Saturday, pull out a piece of paper, address it to "Postmaster," and ask them politely to ship it the the town you think you'll be in next Tuesday or Wednesday, fold it over, and drop it in the outgoing mail box inside the post office.  It's a free service from the Post Office.  (So far...)

You can ship to yourself on a one month trip, but if you're going longer than that, you'll need some one to ship to you.  Cell phones make it easier to stay in touch and request stuff; before cell phones and the web, AT through hikers had to send a post card from Hot Springs, NC asking friends or family to ship the box to Damascus, VA, where they'd send another post card, and so forth.

Good advice above.  I'll add a few things though.   If you decide that you need the package forwarded because the post office was closed when you hit town, or even if you just aren't ready for the package and want to forward it, you can also stop in any other post office and arrange for your package to be forwarded.  I recommend picking a post office in a town that isn't tiny but is small enough to have only one post office to avoid confusion over which post office to stop at.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 11:39:58 am »
The best bet in my opinion is to use USPS fixed-rate priority mail boxes and have them mailed to you c/o general delivery. They say it takes two days, but it's not guaranteed so allow four. Pick someplace where you will be in four or more days. Use https://www.usps.com/ to find locations. Record the city, state and zip code of the post office, as well as noting the hours of operation and the address of the post office so you can find it. I find it's best to pick a town with only one post office--otherwise, you'll have to figure out which post office in that town handles general delivery. I like to plan some place where you plan to be on a Wednesday or Thursday. This gives you some flexibility if you are early or late, avoiding closures on Saturdays and Sundays. Plan your riding so as not to arrive when the post office is closed. Allow enough time to find the post office once you get to town. Note that many small-town post offices have pretty weird hours on some days.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 01:15:34 pm »
If you have a smartphone (iPhone or Android) or iPod Touch/iPad, there is a USPS app that is pretty useful for finding zip codes, post office locations/hours, rates, and the like.

Another option is getting stuff shipped to a place you are staying at, if you know in advance. If you know you're going to be staying at a particular hotel/hostel or even a Warmshowers host, you can contact them and ask if they'd accept a package for you.

Offline spiewaker

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2013, 09:14:20 am »
Thanks everyone, this should help out a bunch!  Great advise.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2013, 10:18:51 am »
If you have a smartphone (iPhone or Android) or iPod Touch/iPad, there is a USPS app that is pretty useful for finding zip codes, post office locations/hours, rates, and the like.
Also if on an Adventure Cycling route the zip codes for all towns on the route are listed.

Offline matthewjsteger

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2013, 07:29:54 pm »
I shipped a few trinkets to myself while riding the TransAm last fall.  My advice is to skip it if you can.  It's far more effort than it's worth.  The only thing that was "useful" in those packages were the home-baked items that my super kind friend had included. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2013, 10:09:20 am »
I shipped a few trinkets to myself while riding the TransAm last fall.  My advice is to skip it if you can.  It's far more effort than it's worth.  The only thing that was "useful" in those packages were the home-baked items that my super kind friend had included.
I agree that it can be and often is more trouble than it is worth, but there are times when it might be worthwhile.  A few examples where mail drops might be worth the effort are:
  • The need for prescription meds that you can't carry for the full length of your tour
  • Warmer clothes or gear that you won't need until a month or more into your tour
  • Parts for a needed repair
  • Replacements for worn out or broken items that are not available where you are

I am way more likely to mail stuff home than the other way around.

Offline DaveB

Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2013, 10:13:01 am »
    I agree that it can be and often is more trouble than it is worth, but there are times when it might be worthwhile.  A few examples where mail drops might be worth the effort are:
    • Parts for a needed repair
    • Replacements for worn out or broken items that are not available where you are

    I am way more likely to mail stuff home than the other way around.
    I would thing these items will be needed where you are, not where you are going to be in a few days, so they can be sent to a specific address or Post Office where you are currently stranded.

    Offline zzzz

    Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
    « Reply #12 on: April 11, 2013, 09:42:28 pm »
    Hi:

    I tried mailing stuff "general delivery" as a way to stage what I was carrying last year on the Western Express" route and it was a problem at both places I tried it.

    The first post office was in a very small town and closed at noon every day of the week. The second place I didn't snap that I was getting there on a Saturday (my fault) and another early closing.

    I thought afterword that I should have arranged with hotels I knew I would be going to stay at to take delivery for me. If you get there after 5, they'll still be open.

    pm

    Offline staehpj1

    Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
    « Reply #13 on: April 12, 2013, 10:37:17 am »
    The first post office was in a very small town and closed at noon every day of the week. The second place I didn't snap that I was getting there on a Saturday (my fault) and another early closing.

    A few things can make that more manageable:
    1. Pick a town big enough to have a real post office with reasonable hours, but small enough that it is easy to find the right post office.
    2. If you know that you will be hitting the post office you shipped to at bad time, or if you changed your route, or if you decide you are not ready for the package, stop at any post office and they can arrange to forward the package ahead to another town.
    3. If you have someone shipping the package to you, plan on using a town that you are pretty sure you will hit mid week.  This is easier if you do not ship too many days ahead.

    I thought afterword that I should have arranged with hotels I knew I would be going to stay at to take delivery for me. If you get there after 5, they'll still be open.

    Be careful with that strategy because if the pickup doesn't work out for any reason it will be harder or even impossible to get the package forwarded ahead.

    Offline mbattisti

    Re: Shipping Supplies to Yourself
    « Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 02:14:10 pm »
    We had our kids mail us packages "general delivery" during our tandem XC trip.  We layed out supplies like zip-locked gatorade powder, laundry detergent, inner tubes, tires, sample sized toiletries etc.  out in our garage along with some flat-rate shipping boxes and just directed them what to send.  Worked great!  The kids even stuffed the boxes with wads of the local newspaper so we could keep abreast with the hometown news!  Besides, who better than the local postmaster of a small town to fill you in on what's not to be missed in their community (like the best diner)!