When I talk to folks about our life on the road, I often get questions about logistical issues. Questions like: How do you get your mail? What about doctor’s appointments? How do you handle banking and other business items? Here are our solutions!
Mail handling: When we sold our South Florida home, we converted our Orlando house (where our son lives) from a rental property into our primary residence, at least on paper. That’s the address we use for everything – banks, credit cards, driver’s license, auto registration, etc, so all of our mail goes here too. I find that most campgrounds accept mail and packages for campers, so when we are going to be at a place for a couple of weeks, I’ll request that Sean forward our mail to us. He uses pre-paid Priority Mail envelopes (which I buy online from USPS.com) and ships to the address I provide. Since Priority Mail envelopes have tracking numbers, I can track the package to its destination and haven’t lost any (yet). I also signed up for informed delivery, a free USPS service that provides a daily email of scanned images showing the envelopes to be delivered at your address that day. It allows me to screen for anything urgent, which Sean can open and text a photo, if needed. To reduce the mail load, he tosses obvious junk mail and we’ve converted to digital communications as much as possible. Most of the time, forwarding our mail once or twice per month has been sufficient.
Banking / Bills: As mentioned above, we’ve converted to digital communications wherever possible, including digital billing and bank statements. We do still have a few invoices that can only come on paper (mostly relating to our rental property in Gatlinburg), and we watch for those in our mail and then use online payment to either pay directly or pay by check. We almost never physically write a check any more. All of our banks and brokerage firms have apps now, so we can monitor and manage most accounts on our iPhone. We can even deposit checks by phone. Also, before we left Florida, we withdrew a sizeable cash reserve and stashed it in our onboard safe to supply our daily cash needs and avoid foreign ATM fees. Unfortunately Jeff’s company stock payout is currently coming to us by way of monthly hard copy checks, which is a bit of a hassle and causes a delay due to the circuitous mail handling required. They are investigating direct deposit options, so hopefully that will be resolved one day.
Family business: We planned for the scenarios described above, so all that has gone smoothly. What we didn’t plan for was the need for Jeff to assume control of his dad’s finances. Just before our planned Launch Day last year, Jeff’s dad’s health unexpectedly deteriorated, forcing a flurry of last minute decisions and actions for his care. One of those actions was to make Jeff his dad’s financial power of attorney. Even though Jeff visited every bank branch personally and provided the POA evidence, time has proved that the banks did not fully process the POA during his lengthy in-person sessions. Working to restructure his dad’s assets for long term management has proven to be an exercise in extreme frustration as he has had to deal with each bank’s idiosyncratic bureaucracy. We’ve made multiple treks to FedEx, UPS, and local bank offices to notarize and fax or mail hard copy documents, since they typically won’t accept scanned and emailed documents. Anything CAN be done remotely, but it is far more difficult than simply walking into the local bank where the account originated.
Medical and Dental care: Our route takes us back to Florida at the end of the year for several months, so we can take care of any annual appointment needs during that time. Non-routine care can be a bit more complicated. Jeff set up a teeth cleaning appointment in Paso Robles California, and learned there that he had a (silent) infection in a root-canal tooth. After researching options and conferring with his South Florida long-time dentist, he elected to have the tooth extracted and prepared for an implant. We had to plan the procedures around our itinerary. Jeff set up his extraction and bone graft appointment with a periodontist in Lodi, and the Paso Robles dentist forwarded his records there. His stitches were taken out by another periodontist here in Salem, Oregon. The rest of the implant process will be completed in Florida, since it needs several months of healing anyway. These things do get complicated when you’re a moving target. Fortunately, we are typically very healthy and these scenarios don’t arise often. I can see why medical problems can force RV-ers into an extended stay somewhere or off the road entirely, due to the need for medical care continuity.
Any other questions, just ask me!