Inside My Nomadic Jewelry Business: 6 Ways to Receive Packages While Traveling

Julia standing in the open doorway of her campervan

     Hi, I'm Julia, the owner of Topaz & Pearl. I'm a small business owner and van-lifer. I've been traveling full time since March 2021 in a campervan that I converted with my fiancé. I operate my handmade jewelry business from the road, and I love encouraging other makers to think outside the box. This blog explains the ins-and-outs of all the shipping methods I've used to receive packages while traveling, without a "real" address of my own! 

How I Receive Supplies & Inventory for My Handmade Jewelry Business While Traveling Full Time


      In today’s modern world there are many ways to live a nomadic life. Whether you’re into van living, full-timing in a glamorous RV, or fifth-wheeling with the kids, you’re probably thinking about how you’ll make income on the road. In my opinion, working for yourself is a great option for most people.

     I started my handmade jewelry business years before we hit the road, and I didn’t want to leave it behind when we downsized. After all, I can't think of anything I'd rather do with my days than craft personalized, meaningful jewelry for you! But product-based businesses pose unique challenges like receiving, storing, producing and shipping inventory. Is it possible to run a six-figure handmade jewelry business from a tiny space, without a workshop or even a stable mailing address?

     I’m here to report that the answer is: YES. I’ve been doing just that for 18 months now and I think more people need to know how possible this lifestyle is, once you figure out all the complexities.

     So if you are a maker or already run a product-based business and are considering nomadic living, don’t rule out the possibility of your craft fueling your travels - it’s working for my family and others, like one of my inspirations b.e.happe co!


a white campervan is parked in the desert. The side door of the van is open and the owner of Topaz & Pearl is inside making jewelry from her nomadic studio.

A little background on my story:

     I’m a jewelry designer and seasoned road-tripper making my way around the country in a self-converted campervan. I started my handmade jewelry business in 2017, transitioned to working for myself in 2020, and dove into tiny living & traveling in our converted van in 2021.

     As a digital nomad, I’m leveraging the power of technology and the internet in order to escape the busyness of society and seek a simpler life. What a time to be alive!

the owner of Topaz & Pearl making handcrafted jewelry inside her campervan jewelry studio

For daily behind-the-scenes peeks into my van life business, connect with me on Instagram.

Running a product-based business while living on the road:

     If you want to become a self-employed digital nomad so you can have the freedom to travel, you’ll want to consider the differences between a product and service-based business.

     A service-based business such as a consultant, freelancer, or remote worker is simpler in the sense that all you need is access to wifi and your equipment to be in business. You won’t have to worry about shipping and receiving if your end product or service can be sent digitally. That being said, it’s still great to know about the options for receiving shipments on the road for when you need business packages delivered, so keep reading!

     Businesses like mine that sell a physical product have a supply chain to manage. In some cases, a business owner can minimize their supply chain by using dropshipping services or a warehouse that ships their products for them (this is usually the case when it is not a handmade product sold by the maker). A great example of this is fellow van-lifers Eamon & Bec who run their chai company & other ventures from the road by working with a warehouse that ships their orders for them. This is a great way to scale a business and I recommend it for mass-produced items.

     Makers, artists, and small business owners like myself usually ship every order ourselves, it’s part of the handmade charm that makes us unique. In order to ship things, I’ve got to have inventory on-hand so there is a constant need to receive supplies. How do I do that when I am constantly in a new place without an address?

     The ordering of supplies for a product-based business that operates nomadically is much more complex than when you have a stable workshop, home, PO Box, or any other conventional way to receive your shipments.

shipping products from a campervan. the counter has boxes of jewelry laid out and supplies are on the bed in the background.

Here are the methods I’ve used to receive supplies for my business while working from the road:

     I’ve shipped over a thousand orders from the van in the past 18 months and probably received over a hundred orders of supplies and packaging. I have received shipments in dozens of cities and states and have tried most of the shipping methods available, so here’s a run-down from my experience:

1) Enlist help from family or friends:

When we first began our van life journey in March of 2021, we had a lot to learn and I definitely didn’t know about all the creative ways to ship and receive packages while on a road trip. So naturally, my first solution was to have everything sent to a family member’s house. They’d collect all of my packages and then when I finally landed somewhere long enough to receive a shipment, they’d put everything in one big box and send it to me.


  • This is easy for me because most of my packages are small to medium sized. Anything that is large, like packaging supplies, I would not use this method.
  • When you don’t have solid travel plans and aren’t sure where you’re going to be and when, this is a great way to keep building your back-up supply stock by ordering over time, and then receiving it all in one big package when you’re ready.
  • For international packages that take longer to ship and often incur delays, this is a great solution so your travel plans don’t get derailed by waiting on a delivery.


  • Increased lead/wait time, not good for last-minute deliveries
  • Increased shipping costs
  • You still need to use a combination of another method listed below in order to receive the final shipment
  • This system is reliant on other people to work, and therefore you need trustworthy people to rely on that (ideally) don’t care about getting paid for the time. In my case it has worked out well and doesn’t seem to be a hassle or nuisance for my family. At least they don’t say so!


Independent shipping stores are usually privately owned and are surprisingly common. I’ve come across these shops in small towns and big cities. They are not an official postal service, but rather have contracts to accept and distribute USPS, UPS, FedEx, and all the other shipping services so they typically offer mailbox services to locals. A great example of this and a reliable business that I used frequently during my time in Arizona is The Office Toolbox in Surprise.

The best part is, all of these independent mailbox & shipping stores that I’ve asked will accept one-off packages WITHOUT signing up for a monthly mailbox. I always call them first to talk through the details, cost, and make sure I feel the place is responsible and well-managed before relying on them. If all that checks out, here’s how it usually works:

  1. I will have the package sent to their street address with my name on it (or however they instructed me to address the label, sometimes the store will ask you to put a special code after your name so they know it’s to be held for pickup)
  2. Once it’s arrived, they will either let me know based on their protocols or I will keep an eye on the tracking myself
  3. I go pick up my packages and pay the fee, usually $2-5 per package. That’s it!


  • Quick and easy with no commitment
  • The stores usually sell other packaging supplies and take outgoing packages which saves a trip to the post office/UPS
  • Supports another small business


  • Additional fees per package can add up quickly, so you might end up saving money on a monthly mailbox if you’re expecting a lot of shipments


At different parts of our road trip journey, I have opened both a UPS mailbox and a USPS PO Box. They both technically have a 3 month minimum, but more on that below. This is usually the best option for me when we will be in the same general area for 1-3 months. Small, independent shipping stores like the ones I mentioned earlier often offer monthly rentals.

Most UPS Stores offer many services including mailboxes. The great thing about a UPS mailbox is that they receive shipments from all carriers, as opposed to a USPS box (that’s the United States Postal Service a.k.a. The Post Office) which can sometimes only accept USPS mail, but check with each office to be sure.

  • 24 hour access
  • Fees vary by location but are usually lower than other mailboxes
  • Ability to get unused rental time refunded up to 50% if canceled early
  • Can be managed online


  • Sometimes don’t receive UPS and FedEx Shipments unless you sign up for additional service
  • Mailbox can receive shipments from all carriers


  • 24 hour access costs extra, if available
  • Fees vary by franchise, some are higher than others
  • 3 month minimum, no refunds


a campervan parked in nature by the beach


If you’re receiving a package that’s shipped by UPS or FedEx, their respective stores will usually receive the shipment for you at no cost. Always call ahead to the location to ensure that they provide this service and ask if there’s anything special you should put on the label. Usually, it is just your own name plus their address. This is how I would usually receive my shipments sent from my family members, as I mentioned above.


  • Quick and no additional fees


  • Only accepts packages from their own shipping service
  • You may have to stand in line a while and wait to be helped if the store is busy


If you happen to be hanging your hat for a while, ask your hosts if you can receive shipments at your location. I have received shipments via UPS and FedEx at my campsite. The driver sometimes brings my packages directly to my site! More often than not, they will deliver it to the campground office where you can pick it up.

I’ve not yet received a package at a hotel, but I have heard that it is possible so always call ahead to see what your options are. I have received shipments at an AirBnb, but due to the wide variety of property types, you should definitely ask your host in advance if this is possible. When we spring for a stay, we tend to rent entire homes with their own mailbox so this is an added benefit for me.


  • Quick and (usually) no additional fees
  • Delivery to your location


  • May not be available at all your stays
  • You may be subjected to campground office hours


Last but not least: one of the best advances in modern technology (in my humble nomadic opinion) is Amazon pickup locations. They are free to use and allow you to receive Amazon shipments all over the country. 

An Amazon Locker is a locked, individual compartment that opens via a unique combination code sent to your device. These are usually located at businesses and can be inside or outside, depending on the business. You may see them at gas stations, Whole Foods, or other commonly-frequented locations.

An Amazon Counter is simply a business who has an agreement with Amazon to accept packages on your behalf, and hold them there until you pick them up. Similar to the locker, you will receive a unique code that’s needed to redeem the package, but it’s different because you will deal with a store employee or owner, rather than a DIY locker. These stores could be anything from independent small businesses to large chains like Auto Zone and GNC.

You can easily find your nearest Amazon pick-up location by logging into Amazon, clicking on “Account” in the top right, then scroll down to “Ordering and Shopping Preferences” and click “Your Addresses”, then “Add Address”. Then, you’ll see a link that says “Find an Amazon pickup location near you”. Once you click that, you can search both lockers and counters.


  • Quick and no additional fees
  • Lockers may be accessible 24 hours, but check with the location


  • Only works for Amazon shipments, which really limits your options
  • Depending on the locker/counter, you may be subject to business hours and closures

Helping Your Nomadic Handmade Business to Run Smoothly

     All this might seem like a lot of information and to someone who hasn’t lived on the road yet, it might be overwhelming. But the reality is that it’s never been easier to operate a small, handmade business while living on the road. With all these convenient options for shipping, I've been able to operate my business everywhere from a large city to super remote areas. Whether you’re selling knitted scarves, stickers, paintings, or jewelry (like me), you can absolutely create, sell, and ship from anywhere (well, as long as there’s internet for the last two parts)! I hope you’re encouraged to monetize your craft and make additional income while living as a modern nomad where inspiration abounds!

     For more insights on my van life jewelry business, sign up for the email newsletter to be notified of new blog posts, and connect with me on Instagram @topazandpearljewelry.

Julia, the owner of Topaz & Pearl, is making handcrafted bohemian jewelry from inside her campervan mobile studio

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