We Mailed Our Luggage To Save Money

Not just money, but hassle too!

After going through the exercise of finding the cheapest airline tickets to my destination, I was faced with a simple problem.

We had far too much luggage. It was going to cost us a huge premium over the plane tickets to get our stuff to where we were going.

Large collection of luggage
This is not my luggage. In fact, my extra large suitcase is bigger than any of these!

We were going for a very long trip – we were basically moving city for six weeks – so we had a lot to bring.

The three large bags were in addition to a collection of smaller luggage, including a backpack, two small rolling suitcases and an additional piece of cabin luggage. I didn’t know how we were even going to get all that in the taxi, let alone to the airport.

So after much fumbling around, I decided to look into something that often results in surprising savings. I unbundled the purchase.

Everything’s Sold In Bundles

Why is a hotel more expensive than a holiday rental apartment?

Because you’re not just renting space. You’re also getting premium bedding, daily sheet and towel changes and room cleaning. You’re paying for a greeter service at the door and an on-site bar, a restaurant, a gym and a tiny office area. Whether you use the concierge or not, the cost of that additional staff is also covered by the cost of your room.

It’s a bundle, and you don’t get to pick which bits of it you buy.

Budget airlines exist because they decided to compete by unbundling the cost of an air ticket and only selling the absolutely essential service – flight, airport costs, security, check-in. Everything else is both optional and expensive.

This means that an airline like Ryanair or Vueling can sell a ticket cheap because they sell every little thing as an add-on. Is your carry-on larger than a small hamster? That’s $20. Did you expect a glass of water? I’m sorry sir, we only sell bottles. Didn’t want to pay for the hold luggage? That’s fine, we sold your hold luggage space to a freight company and made more than your ticket cost you.

So You Bought A Budget Ticket, So What?

Well, I still needed to get all that luggage to the other end of the journey.

Once you’ve unbundled a purchase, you can check the price of all the different parts of that purchase against competing suppliers. It turns out that DHL, FedEx and TNT all compete with airlines on luggage transportation, we just don’t usually think about it that way.

But beware! Shipping companies also bundle. There’s the cost of shipment, but then the cost of residential pickup, a fuel surcharge and a hidden penalty because you’re a one-off customer rather than a business client.

To get around all this, there are companies that specialize in putting your luggage through these shipment channels. They make their money on the spread between what it costs you to ship a piece of luggage, and what it costs them to ship one of a thousand pieces of luggage each day.

The worldwide leader is SendMyBag, but there are a host of alternatives who do basically the same thing and you should shop around. Here are a few places to start:

And It Worked!

We arrived at our hotel with our little rolling bags containing a toothbrush, a couple of changes of clothes and a decent book. We had 3 days at the hotel before we would be moving into our short-term rental for the next few weeks.

The next morning, a call from reception…

“Sir, there’s been a delivery for you, would you like us to send it up to your room?”

There they were, two humongous suitcases filled to bursting with everything we’d need for six weeks. An odd little bonus was that having our belongings delivered to us in this way had made the entire trip easier. We felt like we’d had better service than if we had dragged our bags along with us. This was a little slice of the VIP experience – other people dealing with the cumbersome stuff and my wife and I travelling light.

An Additional Tip

The eagle-eyed reader will have spotted in the article above that we magically went from 3 bags to 2 between the beginning of the article and the end.

This is not an error.

Once I’d decided to go with luggage shipment, I obviously started to optimize that too. I discovered that sending two large and heavy suitcases would be cheaper than sending three not-quite-so-large and not-quite-so-heavy suitcases.

So I pulled our very biggest suitcase out of the closet and repacked our things to fit into one large and one huge suitcase. I also checked the weight was distributed to keep the larger suitcase beneath the highest weight category. This little trick saved me another £69.