Forwarding a suitcase from Italy to Toronto
January 12, 2013 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Currently I'm in Italy. In March I'll be travelling to Scotland by train and making stops along the way. Then I'll be flying home to Toronto. My problem is that I have a lot of luggage that I needed for an extended professional stay in Italy, but which will only serve to encumber me when I go traveling. What is the best way for me to forward one large (standard checked baggage) suitcase home to Canada from Italy when I head out? I would especially appreciate any advice based on personal experience.

I've done a little searching and poking around on services like et cetera. I would prefer not to spend as much as my flight home ($500CAD) just to freight one suitcase. I don't care if it takes two weeks to arrive home. I can do without most of my clothes. I only don't want to have to lug around a big 24Kg suitcase everywhere I go between Siena and Glasgow.
posted by Evstar to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
FedEx and UPS can do this, but I'm not sure about the cost, or whether those particular services are thick on the ground in Italy. Years ago in a comparable situation, my company used DHL for international shipping, but I'm not sure if they're still around for this or competitive or convenient.

Definitely check the major international shipping companies, is what I'm saying.

Very briefly playing with the FedEx website, it's easy to get to their Italy portal, and relatively easy to price out what you want to do. No idea how much it will cost, though, or whether there is a FedEx drop off location convenient to wherever in Italy you are.
posted by Sara C. at 12:50 PM on January 12, 2013

When I was traveling in Italy, I shipped home a mid-sized box of stuff that I didn't need for the second leg of my trip which was going to be much more hiking and backpacking so I wanted to lighten my load. Get a box, fill it, ship it. Can you get rid of the suitcase? Or do you want to keep it? It's an odd size so I'm not sure if you could ship it as is. If you can, make sure it's secured closed with tape around all the seams -- otherwise you'd need to box it. Are you staying in a hotel? Perhaps the proprietors can help you with this.
posted by amanda at 12:55 PM on January 12, 2013

Do you care about the suitcase? You might find it cheapest to just pack the stuff into a couple of big boxes and mailing it "surface mail" (ie, not airmail). It might take a couple of months. Also check out air freight outfits.
posted by beagle at 12:58 PM on January 12, 2013

You want a luggage courier. I used one on an extended trip to the UK and it worked out very well.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2013

FedEx and UPS can definitely ship suitcases. I've done it before.
posted by Sara C. at 1:02 PM on January 12, 2013

I'm not too attached to the suitcase but I hadn't considered ditching it. That might be a good way to go. The tool on the FedEx website for finding a quote requires that I label the package as either Documents or Commodity/Product. This is neither, and I don't want to be charged customs in Canada to reclaim my personal effects.
posted by Evstar at 1:03 PM on January 12, 2013

Decant the contents of the suitcase into one or two boxes and then send it back via regular post. The Italian post office can help you here. It won't be cheap but it won't be $500 either.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:36 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Commodity/Product. Used clothing. Value: $10. UPS or DHL surface, or regular post. All will get it home for you, eventually.
posted by DaveP at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have used the post office (in Finland though) to simply ship the packed suitcases as parcels.

Also found out later that the airline would have taken it as "unaccompanied baggage" for less money.

Check with the local post office if they'll take the suitcase. Also with Air Canada or some other airline that you know flys to your final destination.
posted by infini at 5:44 PM on January 12, 2013

In this situation, you label it "Household goods" or "Personal effects" - I used FedEx when shipping out from San Francisco.
posted by infini at 5:45 PM on January 12, 2013

I would be wary of the Posta Italiana. Their reliability is poor.

I once shipped most of my personal effects from Italy to the US. I think it was around 250 kg (in boxes) and it cost me around EUR 2,000. So maybe < EUR10 a kg (this was in 2005). I used Pony Express on via Labicana in Rome--no idea if they have offices in Sienna. IIRC they arrived via UPS.

On edit: And I didn't have any issues with customs. They just arrived at the house.
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:58 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did have customs "breaking into" the FedEx boxes then attempting to tape them back up with bad tape in SFO--->New Delhi and the authorities "breaking into" one box only from HEL--->SIN but that was to remove an aerosol spray can. They also sealed it back up better.

Just ensure you're not packing anything remotely dangerous in unpressurized cargo holds.
posted by infini at 9:34 PM on January 12, 2013

Have you considered just posting it to Scotland instead of Canada?
posted by Marauding Ennui at 6:10 AM on January 13, 2013

I once shipped skis back to Canada through Air Canada freight. It works out well if you're already heading to an airport for a trip somewhere else. You have to go to a separate freight building. I don't remember the cost though.
posted by dripdripdrop at 2:12 PM on January 13, 2013

Posting it to Scotland! There's an idea. I don't want to pick a best answer. You've all been very helpful. Thank you.
posted by Evstar at 5:45 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

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