December 3, 2009
When packing for a trip lasting anywhere from three weeks to three months, you might find that your gear needs can change dramatically from the beginning of your tour to the end. Change in elevation or climate, or traveling in the "shoulder season" (where you may experience a rapid shift from fall to winter-like conditions) might create a sudden need for different clothing. But why oh why carry that extra fleece jacket or pair of wool tights when you could send them to yourself on the road and save the weight and room in the meantime?
And how to do this you ask? Simple, use the zip codes you find in the Service Directory on our maps. We list the United States Postal Service (USPS) General Delivery zip code for every town that has a post office along our routes. These can come in really handy when you need a change in wardrobe, a refill of your prescription medications, or simply a care package from a loved one. If you wanted to receive a package in Dubois, Wyoming, on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, all you'd have to do is address the package to yourself, care of General Delivery as shown below:
We suggest using the General Delivery service in smaller towns. They tend to have only one post office and you won't have to bike all over town trying to find the right one. Leave plenty of time for your package to arrive ahead of you, but not so much that it gets sent back. Typically, a post office will hold General Delivery items for 30 days.
Beware however, most post masters enjoy a good mystery and by the time you arrive to pick up your package, a story will have developed about who you are and what you're up to. Be ready to field their questions and satisfy their curiosity.
Have you sent or received packages via USPS General Delivery? What worked? What didn't?
photo courtesy of Library of Congress' photostream on Flickr
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.
Post Offices are the way to go! I used them exclusively to resupply myself while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2009 (2660 miles), and plan to send myself goodies and other items that could be hard to find or outrageously expensive in smaller towns etc. By law, the PO's have to hold the package for 2 weeks, but as noted, many will hold it longer (if they have room!) Also, you can 'float' a package from PO to PO for FREE if it is unopened. Pack some extra spare parts, hard to find consumables etc and keep forwarding it to the next PO until you need it. The postmasters aren't supposed to forward a package without confirming you are the actual person it is addressed to (meaning you usually have to tell them in person/fill a form instead of leaving a note on the door) however, smaller towns probably overlook this since they probably get very few 'Care of' packages.
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Hi Ryan: Those are some good extra hints I didn't know about General Delivery. Thanks for writing in to share them. Hope you have a great experience on your upcoming trip. .JHM.