We’ve all had times when we miss that shipment that we had to sign for, or thought it was coming one day only to have it sit out in the rain for hours when we aren’t home.

While Amazon Prime deliveries often offer photographs of the package on your doorstep (or, in my case, sometimes ending up behind my garage), UPS and FedEx offer some pretty dynamic tracking services as well. It’s perfect to plan out when your next fancy piece of camera equipment will arrive.

This helps to avoid any surprise deliveries, alerting you of your package’s status from the time it leaves the facility to the time it arrives on your doorstep. Here’s how to get started.

UPS My Choice

In my experience, UPS is usually the most reliable. Though I’ve talked with others who say the opposite holds true. I suppose it just depends on where you live.

Regardless of your experience, UPS My Choice is by far the most dynamic system I’ve used. Integrating things like real-time tracking where you can follow along the truck on a map, UPS makes it easy to know exactly when your packages will arrive. And if you need to make any changes, it’s easy to do that too (with a small fee).

UPS will not only track shipments you’re receiving, but also shipments you’re sending, too. Meaning if you need to return something, or if you need to send a gift to your favorite photographer, it’s easy to track the progress. Plus, you can sign up for text and email notifications.

To get your own UPS My Choice account, just head over to UPS and sign up.

FedEx Tracking

While not quite as robust as the UPS My Choice offering, FedEx also lets you track your packages. It presents things like the dimensions and weight of your packages, plus the FedEx service being used.

It’s good to keep an eye on those white vans and trucks as they go through your neighborhood, and to pay attention to the lettering on the truck. Things like Home Delivery, Ground, Overnight … they’ll often have different delivery times.

You’ll see in the screenshot above, there’s a map present … but it’s a totally static map, just showing you the last update for your package. It does not track in real time.

However, you can receive text and email notifications — just like UPS — in addition to making delivery changes (with a fee).

To get started with your FedEx Tracking account, just visit the FedEx website.

What about the post office?

While the United States Postal Service does offer online tracking, it doesn’t have a complete solution for things like notifications, changing deliveries and more. You can learn more about what the USPS does offer at usps.com.