A couple of times now I had to travel alone with two small children, which is hell on earth (for me anyway). But now I have a trick on how to travel light which I’m sharing with you! I searched for tricks and hacks everywhere on the internet and eventually, I found the solution in a Facebook Group of fellow expats. I decided to dispatch as much as I could in advance and travel light with the children. It was a much more relaxing experience!
What’s the trick?
Dispatch your ‘luggage’ separately via one of the many courier companies operating around the world. It’s not as expensive as you may think.
I certainly found this solution works for me, especially if I’m traveling alone with small children or traveling for a short period like Christmas when we also have to take the Christmas presents with us.
How to do it
Please note: this is based on our experience. We were traveling from the UK to Portugal in the summer and back. The courier companies operating to other countries, and their own restrictions will be different.
- I searched on myparceldelivery.com. To get instant quotes from different companies you’re asked for the collection and delivery locations (I wanted door to door but other options are available), and the size and weight of the parcel. DPD turned out to be the cheapest company at the time for our journey. Because we were staying with family I could do the cheapest rate which cost around £25 for up to 30kg.
- I found it harder than expected to find a big enough box for my needs. Mostly, boxes were sold in packs of multiples. I just wanted one big box. So I went to a local self-storage company – The Big Yellow Storage Company. The largest box was 51 cm square and cost under £5. It was much cheaper than it would have been elsewhere. I collected it by car but they also offer home delivery.
- DPD stated on the site that it would take up to 5 days to deliver but it only took 2 days and all was in good order. DPD only tells you on the morning of the day of delivery the time slot when it’s expected which could be inconvenient.
Good to know
- Remember to reinforce the corners and sides of the box with tape before filling it. After filling the box, tape as much as you can around to protect the box and the items.
- As it turns out we didn’t have enough items to fill such a big box but we filled the empty space with light items such as scrunched up paper and plastic bags.
- It’s important to check with the individual company what is allowed to be packed. Some companies on specific routes will not allow liquids and other potentially hazardous items and doing so could turn an expensive mistake
A few days after arriving I received an email from DPD asking if I wanted to book another delivery. I was there for 4 weeks and didn’t want to do it then so deleted the email, I wish I hadn’t because booking the collection and delivery of the box back home to was not as straightforward. The service I had used for the outbound journey was DPD Classic Europe so I searched for that but it was not clear how to actually book it. So I googled for other worldwide delivery companies. I tried a couple that returned ridiculous quotes, well off what I had paid first time around. I then found transglobalexpress.co.uk which appeared to be good and returned more reasonable quotes.
Again, DPD offered the most competitive quote. However, this time around the communication was not so good. I was left in the dark as to when they would deliver. Transglobal Express called me soon after my booking to check if everything was ok and to go over somethings which I was impressed about – they offered great customer service, even when I called to chase for the DPD delivery time.
I wanted the box to be collected and delivered door to door. Other options are available but if you want the door to door service, you should have a trusted destination address, such as friends and family, to accept the package. I also wanted the cheapest and I was prepared to wait for up to 5 days for that trade off, instead of paying a premium for a guaranteed next day delivery, though it never got to that the parcel arrived much quicker than expected.
Below are the pros and cons of this solution based on this first experience.
- Cheaper than dispatching luggage at the airport – I paid £25 for 20kg. Checking in luggage with a company like British Airways and Easy Jet these days costs on average an extra £50 each way.
- Save time in departures – no need to check-in luggage can go straight through security and the departure lounge
- Save time in arrivals – no need to wait for luggage in the luggage reclaim
- Hands-free and less stressful, especially if traveling with children
- Not know if it will take 2 or 5 days but that’s for the cheapest option – for a premium you can have next day delivery
- The return journey may not be as straightforward
Why not do it the traditional way?
The traditional way being, taking public transport or being driven to the airport and dispatching bags on arrival (unless of course, you have a private jet and staff, in which, case, good for you!).
If you’re an expat living abroad and you’re going on a long holiday back home with children, or even a just a short holiday but you want to take presents for family and just can’t carry it all, or find it awkward to travel with children AND carry or look after all the bags, this is the ideal the solution: dispatch a box ahead of departure!
If you are raising bilingual children and stock up on resources when you go back home, then you might seriously want to consider this option, as toys and books can be bulky and heavy.