Here’s my packing philosophy. Lay out everything you want to take and have somebody else remove half of it. Read the comments for many great tips.
But there are times where shipping your luggage makes sense. This New York Times article has some valuable information.
By STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM
John F. Stephenson/Topical Press Agency, via Getty Images
Family vacations, especially multigenerational trips, can involve a lot of baggage, if only literally.
Last year, airlines in the United States made more than $3 billion in fees for checked luggage. But it’s not just the cost that can dampen a family trip; it’s hauling all those bags. Is there an easier way to get clothes, baby food, golf clubs and hiking boots to and from your destination?
Perhaps it’s time to consider a door-to-door luggage shipping service, be it a newcomer like DUFL that packs and dry-cleans your clothes for you, or a veteran like Luggage Forward that delivers your gear — even to a cruise ship. Such companies allow you to track your bags and travel with little more than a wallet and a mobile device.
Tempted by a package service like UPS? It’s not necessarily convenient. Will UPS pick up at your off-the-beaten path rental? And, honestly, do you want to be boxing up suitcases on vacation?
Below, a guide to the latest in luggage transport.
Geared to business travelers, DUFL doesn’t just ship clothes: It stores, packs and dry-cleans them for you, too. After signing up through the app or website, you’re sent a suitcase (free to use as long as you’re a member of the service). You fill it with your usual gear — clothes, accessories and full-size toiletries if you like (aerosols are an exception) — and then use the app to schedule the bag to be picked up. You need not do this for every trip. DUFL stores your clothes and suitcase in a warehouse year-round.
The first time you send the company your packed suitcase, it photographs your items and creates a virtual online closet so you can see everything or read a description. Whenever you’re about to travel, use the app to select which items you’d like and when you would like the bag to arrive. Then DUFL packs and sends the bag to your hotel. When it’s time to leave, you schedule a pickup online, and DUFL takes the bag back to a warehouse, dry-cleans dirty clothes, and stores everything until the next time. If you ever want to add clothes by, say, buying something online on Amazon or Saks, you can have the items sent directly to DUFL where they will be photographed and added to your virtual closet. You can also pay to have your bag sent home to change the clothes inside, or just swap them out when you are on the road. Families are most likely to benefit from the DUFL Sports service, which allows members to store and ship items like surf boards, ski equipment, golf clubs and bikes — particularly handy for those with small homes.
Cost $9.95 a month for storage and $99 for each round trip (three-day shipping) within the United States, which includes dry-cleaning fees. Most deliveries are on weekdays; Saturdays cost extra. Overnight shipping is an additional $49.
DUFL International is available in Europe and Canada as well as business hubs in places including Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. Prices depend on locations.
DUFL Sports is $9.95 a month for a locker, which is large enough to hold several items, such as golf clubs and ski equipment. Standard three-day domestic shipping for golf clubs starts at about $75 round trip, including cleaning.
Bottom line Best for business travelers, people who regularly travel with sports gear, and those who can be without certain wardrobe items (or own doubles). Note that not all international destinations are served. A spokeswoman for the company said that it hadn’t lost a bag yet but that if there is a delay in delivery, members are notified and can send more items from their closet, expedited at the company’s expense. There is no set-in-stone refund policy: Refunds for delays depend on the circumstances and vary case by case.
This company, which has acquired a number of experienced competitors, has been shipping clothes and sports gear like skis for more than 10 years. It’s also one of the more far-reaching players, shipping among hundreds of countries and territories worldwide, as well as to and from cruise ships and golf courses.
Pack your clothes in bags the same way you would for air travel and then have Luggage Forward pick them up from you. And the company will complete and submit all customs documentation. Within the United States, you can generally choose from overnight to seven business days from pickup to delivery.
Cost To send a standard bag (about 50 pounds) from New York to Miami in mid-June was $198 round trip for five-business-day shipping. Certain times of day and weekends cost more (cruise ships are an exception). You can price your bag at App.luggageforward.com/trips/new. Each bag and its contents are protected up to $500, though you can buy more insurance. If your bags do not arrive by the end of day on or before your scheduled delivery date, you’re refunded and reimbursed for incidental expenses up to $500 for each late bag.
Bottom line Especially appealing for cruise lovers, golfers, and those traveling internationally. All-inclusive pricing, including customs documentation, makes it easy to ship and stick to a budget. And the guarantee offers peace of mind. To get the best prices, ship about a week in advance.
Send My Bag
Last summer, this popular Britain-based luggage service introduced shipping within the United States. SendMyBag.com pickups typically take place on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Or you can choose from more than 5,000 drop-off locations nationwide.
Cost Sending a 66-pound bag round trip between New York and Miami was $140 (for five to six-business-day shipping), according to a recent price quote. A bag up to 44 pounds was $117 round-trip. Each bag is insured for $250. You can increase that, though, to $450 for $4.50, $850 for $8.50 and so on up to $2,500 per bag. If you ship your bag Express (two to three business days) and it doesn’t arrive on time, the company credits your account with half the transit costs (if the delay is two or more working days, those costs are refunded).
Bottom line Good prices, and you can buy more insurance. The current collection window for domestic services is long, which may be tough for some travelers. However, the company is rolling out shorter windows for domestic services this summer.
If you’re checking only a bag or two and you’re on a budget, go with the airline. Airlines’ fees for the first bag are typically affordable. For those traveling in the main cabin of a flight within the United States, the first checked bag on American Airlines or Delta Air Lines is $25 one way. The second is $35 one way. And there are several ways around those fees. For instance, if you have an airline credit card, your first checked bag is usually free.
But that doesn’t save you from having to carry your luggage to the airport, to your lodgings and back again. If you plan to check more than two bags, or very heavy or oversize bags, use a shipping service. It’s likely to cost the same or less. Checking a third bag on a domestic flight on American, for example, is $150 one way. Four or more checked bags cost $200 each, one way.
If you do ship, be aware of any potential pitfalls like a last-minute trip change, which could mean that your luggage arrives in one place while you’re in another.
Then again, that’s been known to happen on airlines too.