Elai asked yesterday about how we stay paperless.
As much as we're promised the paperless office, the fact is that lots of people still send mail. Some insist on receiving things as faxes. That doesn't mean that WE need to use paper, but it does mean that we need to figure out a way to get it virtualized.
The first step is to get a mail account at Earth Class Mail. These guys are one of a kind, and are totally amazing. I used them when I was living in my RV as well.
They accept your mail AND packages, and will allow you to decide what happens to it. The'll scan it, shred it, recycle it, forward it to you (physically) or even archive it for you. Chances are that's more actions than you actually take with your mail now. Their service is totally awesome.
We both use tablet PCs, so we can receive a form in the mail, write on it using the tablet PC, and then send it off without ever having printed it out.
How do we send it off?
One tip is to ask if they'll accept an e-mailed PDF. Photoshop and the new version of Word (which is otherwise terrible, btw) can both output PDF file that you can e-mail.
Once in a while they won't accept PDFs. This usually happens with bigger companies who have lots of red tape and rules (although you might be surprised).
If you need to fax something, I recommend FaxItNice and Fax1. I've used FaxItNice many times before, but today I gave Fax1 a whirl and liked it a lot. Both of them offer free faxes to try them out, so give them both a shot.
One really good tip for those of you who don't have tablet PCs is to scan your license, credit card, and your signature. That's pretty much all people ever require that can't just be typed. In a pinch you can use a digital camera to "scan" a document. I've done that a few times.
Todd also wrote an excelsior post on how to get phone service everywhere, so I won't get into all that.
The ONE issue I haven't totally solved yet is how to get checks deposited while I'm gone. USAA.com offers a service for this, but I can't become a member because I'm not in Army. Earth Class Mail will offer the service eventually... until then I'm having checks sent to my parents' house and they're bringing them to the bank for me.
That picture on top is a picture of me writing this article. One of the most important tools for me is a nice couch or bed that I can lie down on while I work.
What do you do about auto insurance? I have never been able to figure this one out, if you are on the road and do not have a regular job and no permanent address.
Respond by email if you can, bit I also will check back here for comments.
I've got a question just cause you mentioned the Tablet PCs: What kind do you have? I just looked at some briefly and noticed that most are really expensive as far as laptops go, but then there are some that go for $500. What gives? I don't really know enough about computers and specs to be able to say what I'd be losing out on with the less expensive models. What do you use?
You may also want to try out Online Mail Scanning services. MyAdmin professionals will take care of your mail and will get rid of all junk.
Sprock, I've received credit cards (and even had both sides scanned and emailed to me) and haven't had a problem.
I continue to be totally satisfied with ECM.
Earth Class Mail is a great service, I find it very useful when I travel. I also use the services of Private Box Ltd http://www.privatebox.co.nz , they are based offshore so I can get around some of the international mail issues.
I love your website and the level of authenticity with which you write. Thank you. Your sites and the recommendations on travel gear have been extraordinary.
I do however want to WARN people about EARTHCLASSMAIL. Upon reading your blog and doing some of my own research, I thought Earthclassmail sounded like a legit great alternative to having my mail sent to my friend or mom. So I signed up and went off to Fiji for 3 months.
One day when looking at my bank statement online, I realize that someone in Oregon had been charging groceries and gas to my credit card. I immediately contacted Earthclass and sure enough my credit card had been stolen from an employee and the card was not archived as I had instructed.
Needless to say, this was a major pain in the ass. And a double major pain in the ass handling it from overseas.
In another incident, they also lost over $700 in checks when the package I sent to my power of attorney was lost by their mail provider, DHL.
Being an entreprenuer, I am very careful not to trash someone else's hard work and ideas. But, when a company is not of integrity and unlawful, I also feel it is my responsibility to let people know so they can make an informed choice.
My recommendation (and a strong hint without actually saying from the local authorities when I filed my police report) is to STAY AWAY FROM EARTHCLASSMAIL.
Please let your readers know.
Thanks, Tynan. I'm glad you are back and look forward to meeting and you the Art of Charm crew someday soon.
Here are links for some similar services. I have not used the mail drop, but the fax services are free. OneBox.com is good, too.
International Mail Forwarding:
I understand. What about when you had your RV? I don't have a permanent residence.
Also, I was trying to find out how you guys make a living on the road, but cannot find any posts on the blog.
When you go to Hong Kong be sure to make a day trip to Macau.
We don't have cars so we don't need it. You can buy it when you rent a car, or you can live dangerously like us and waive it.
I contacted CheckFree (which is behind the Fiserv scanned check depositing service). However, they told me that they do not currently offer the service and they are re-evaluating offering it. Bummer.
However, I did not know that I could have other people deposit checks for me, or send it directly to the bank. I will try that instead.
To say that we packed light is an understatement. We packed super light. Someone recently told me a saying that stuck in my mind.
"No one ever wishes they packed heavier."
So true. With fewer baggage comes more freedom, and that's exactly what we're after. Still, when Todd suggested that we take only a small backpack each, I thought he was crazy.
I recently got an email from a friend that said simply "I am getting too many e-mails. How do I organize them? Sometimes I need to research an answer, but then forget for whom it was and I totally forget about it as they get buried. How do you manage your e mails?"
Here's how I do it:
No software email client: I used to use an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, but I found that by switching to a web interface for email I have much more control over it. I have multiple inbound email addresses -- two work addresses, a gmail address, an Apple email address, an alumni address, etc. I have all my mail forward into my personal email account, which is a Google Apps-hosted address. Here's what that looks like:
Using the web-based email interface also lets me leverage all sorts of great advanced stuff, like using Rapportive, Boomerang, and many other email tools that I rely on. Also, using the Google Apps interface for my email allows me to use Google's powerful "important and unread" feature which prioritizes emails from people I know or that Google otherwise thinks I should see first.