Every time I am about to take an extended trip, I stop to consider what to do about our mail while away from home. With email and paperless (electronic) billing so common I certainly receive less snail mail of a critical basis. However with charity requests, catalogs, and other bulk (junk) mail received almost daily, my mailbox does fill up in a matter of days. So do I…
Put the mail on hold at the US Post Office (local post office branch)
Let it pile up in the (never quite large enough) mailbox
Ask a family member or a neighbor (someone I trust) to pick it up regularly
As someone who prefers not to inconvenience others, in the past I have tended to put the mail on hold with the post office which seems like the most secure option. Unfortunately my experience while living in Pennsylvania (house, townhouse) and California (apartment) has been mixed and therefore I have gone back and forth among these three options to ensure the mail does not overflow the box nor get lost while away enjoying some earned vacation time. Twice the mail was never held but somehow fit (was shoved) in the mailbox during a 7-10 day trip, and at least once the accumulated mail was not delivered as requested upon return and I had to go to the post office in person anyway.
So if you have decided to put your mail on hold for your next (amazing?, relaxing?, adventurous?, romantic?, …) trip, now comes the easy part. To put your mail on hold at the U.S. Post Office you no longer have to visit the local post office branch in person (and wait in line). Simply visit their website and follow the step-by-step instructions to submit your request online including home address, family member names, begin date, end date, and delivery option. Best of all this service is absolutely free.
Click Here for Hold Mail Service (United States Postal Service)
As you can see on this form, you are limited in two important ways:
Mail can be held from 3 to 30 days
US Postal Service Hold Mail may be requested up to 14 calendar days in advance
Based on past experience I highly recommend that you put in a mail hold order 1 week in advance since this electronic request must still be handled manually by a postal worker at your local branch. If you forgot and must submit this request at the last minute, I suggest that instead you visit the post office in person (your branch and not the one closest to work) to complete and hand in the paper version of this form (yellow in color). You can view a PDF copy of this form by clicking here.