Hackpacking: Using Poste Restante or General Delivery

| March 23, 2011 | 10 Comments
great idea lightbulb Hackpacking: Using Poste Restante or General Delivery
We share some of our favourite hacks for backpackers and vagabonds…

Occasionally, Kathryn and I come across some great travel ‘hacks’—tips and shortcuts that help backpackers, vagabonds and long-term travellers get things done smarter, cheaper and more efficiently. So, with no further ado, here’s an inexpensive solution that might be deserving of a place in (or on) your backpack.


Over on BootsnAll—a web-based travel publisher, online travel community and provider of services and information for travellers need—we discovered a post by fellow Bootie Mr Tree. He writes:

I had a clever idea, but need some specifics. What I’d like to do is store a four-season sleeping bag during the warmer months at a post office—and swap it with my two-season for the winter. I figured, this way I could also mail the bag to a different location, so that I could make a swap at any post office. Is this possible?

We suggested that Mr Tree go the route of Poste Restante. Poste Restante (dubbed ‘General Delivery in the US’ and ‘Lista de Correos’ in South America) is a service whereby the post office holds mail until the recipient picks it up. Before the advent of email, it was commonly used by backpackers who were visiting a particular location and had no need, or no way, of having mail delivered directly to them.

Services vary

Poste Restante in most countries will hold mail for a few months before returning it to sender (or throwing it away). Some countries, like China, send it back in just a month.  Be advised, however, that other countries, especially those in Europe, have stopped accepting Poste Restante for security reasons. Check on your destination in advance to see if this is an option. In Canada, for example, General Delivery is  offered to the travelling public for a