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Staying in Touch is Easy

by Peggi McDonald

So many RVers think of their rolling home as their permanent residence. Unfortunately when it comes to government, round pegs must fit into round holes, so everyone requires some form of official address. However with a few modifications it is simple to enjoy the Freedom to Fulltime RV.

Although each Province or State have acceptable minimum residence requirements, each area differs. However in all cases a basic form of residency is required. Simply using an address especially a post office box may not be sufficient for drivers licenses, income tax, census, bank accounts and insurance coverage or even when crossing the border.

For instance, in Ontario, Canada, the minimum residence for medical coverage is a room that's all yours, British Columbia has a new program referred to as a 'Deemed Resident'.

In some states if you stay longer than six months you are expected to call that state home. Regulations vary so check thoroughly before leaving your home area.

When John and I go "home" we usually camp in the driveway, but although we're fultimers, if you asked us where we live, our answer is "Brockville".

Keeping In Touch by voice mail is really simple.

The most economical way to Stay in Touch is using a voice mail service. John and I are only 24 hours away from good and bad news because we check our voice mail for messages via an 800# every evening. Sometimes we leave messages to rendezvous with other club members. We use the service of Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) but several US clubs offer similar benefitsrefer to International RV Magazines (on sale at major newstands) for details. NOTE: Canadian RV Clubs don't offer these services. However I recently heard of a new form of contact for Canadian RVers. It's a credit card registry which doubles as a message service. Cost is only $16.00 Cdn per year, the access number is 800 387 1949.

Another type of voice mail service is provided by the telephone companies in both countries (cell phones too). As long as a phone line is connected, for a low fee your system will record incoming messages plus you can leave a welcome greeting for your callers much like an answering machine. By dialing an access number it's easy to pick up these messages at regular intervals from any telephone.

Other ways to Stay In Touch include

--a 'Pre-Paid per minute long distance card' which includes taxes and surcharges in the overall costs of the purchase price. These cards are sold at gas stations and convenience stores in both countries. A 'telephone calling card' is another source of contact, RVers without a home phone, can borrow a card from a friend or family member. They are issued free for the asking from all phone companies. Calling Card long distance rates and surcharges vary but they are more economical than putting coins in a call box. Most phone companies in both countries offer special packages for those not connected to a landline. Some Canadian features include a 'Call-Me' card that allows calls to one specific number at home phone rates. and of course a 'fax machine' sends photocopies of documents over the telephone lines. Several RV friends stay in touch using 'ham radio' but that's another story as is using cell phones and e-mail on the road. Maybe next time.

"How do we get our mail?" is the question we are asked most often.

Our Canadian mail goes to our home address. My sister, opens anything official looking(maybe it's a bill or payment for an article); she also has access to our checking and savings accounts. At periodic intervals she bundles correspondance minus the junk mail and sends it to our USA mail forwarding service--or to wherever we are in Canada. This procedure too will work in reverse for American visitors to Canada. Canadian Mail Forwarding Services are available too!.

The majority of RVers ask a friend or relative to handle their personal mail, However USA Postal Service or Canada Post will forward mail to a specific address. Roaming residents of both countries can also have mail sent to International businesses such as Mail Boxes Etc., they even provide a suite and street address. These offices will forward contents from their rental boxes to various addresses anywhere, including International destinations, as often as you wish for a small service charge per mailing, plus the cost of delivery (mail/courier/express etc.). Although it is more costly than asking a friend or relative, it is a viable alternative. Look under business services in weekend newspapers for additional options.

An address in the country your visiting is a definite asset. We use Family Motor Coach Association's (FMCA) free Mail Forwarding Service; many others are available. It provides us with an official USA street address which we give to American RV clubs and my US editors etc. Club dues for us are sometimes cheaper because club mail stays in the USA. Mail sent to our US address frequently arrives faster and we only pay postage from the mail forwarding address to our location, rather than from Canada to our USA Mail Forwarding to our present address. Keeping this weekly service active year round works well for us.Frequent US Canada may find it convenient to establish a similar mail forwarding service in the friendly country to the north. While we're in the USA, American Priority Post mail reaches us in three days (the same is true of Express Post in Canada) but we allow 7-14 days for mail to cross the border. When we don't provide an address, FMCA holds our mail. These mail forwarding services either charge a low monthly fee plus postage, a small fee including postage or postage only. Some services require a three month minimum; most fees are payable via credit card. Peruse the International RV magazines and weekend newspapers for
additional choices.

Other advantages of having a local address...we reap the benefits of purchase rebates. We also have an address to send product warrantees, plus the street address (not a PO Box) opens the door to various discount/credit cards of the country your visiting.

'On the road' banking is also simple.

Most Banks offer telephone banking for a minimal fee. By dialing an International 800# and punching in your client card numbers plus your secret PIN#(personalized identification number), you can pick up a list of latest transactions including deposits and debits, obtain updated balances of accounts and credit cards, pay bills as well as transfer money. You simply follow voice prompts or talk to a real person by pressing 'O'. Computer Internet banking is also available for those who are on line but it's not as convenient during 'on road' travels.

Since we're Canadians who travel throughout USA and Canada, keeping all bank accounts in Canada including a US dollar account suits our lifestyle. One drawback, when we are not in Canada we must send all checks (either Canadian funds or US$) to my sister, our Banking Power of Attorney, for deposit. This solution too would work similar for residents of either country.

As you can see Staying in Touch while living on the road is really not much of a problem. Enjoy the journey, "Catching the RV Spirit is such fun".


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