Risks of shipping in lieu of packing it on a plane?
July 21, 2015 4:13 AM   Subscribe

Asking for Gnik Nus. Flying across the country to go rock climbing, a sport which relies on lots of heavy (and need I say pricey) gear. Will also be taking a bus from the airport to the destination. So, in an attempt to avoid lugging all the equipment, thinking about using USPS flat rate shipping boxes to have the stuff go to the house that's been rented specifically for this trip.

Has anyone ever shipped stuff instead of packing it for a trip? If it goes missing does the post office make good on replacement? (Will insure it to the max.) It's going to a vacation rental house-- will it complicate things if it's not going to his own residence?
I know this is very vague, but I'm just thinking that there must be some risks, just not sure what they could be. Thanks!
posted by Neeuq Nus to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't be overly descriptive when asked to describe the contents. "Climbing equipment" might be too enticing for a thief to pass up.
posted by cecic at 4:19 AM on July 21, 2015

If it doesn't make it, will you be able to repurchase things at your destination?
posted by backwards guitar at 4:33 AM on July 21, 2015

I would consider using USPS general delivery rather than shipping to the house, so that the eqipment is held at the post office.
posted by exogenous at 4:34 AM on July 21, 2015

Best answer: I've shipped a lot of expensive stuff via USPS and never had anything disappear from the system, but delays are relatively common, whereas UPS and FedEx are almost always on time. I'd ship it to arrive a few days early.
posted by jon1270 at 4:42 AM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you're using USPS flat rate boxes, that implies either Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express (which used to be called just Express Mail), both of which offer delivery guarantees and constant tracking. Theoretically, that means your package can never get lost.

Whether sending it to the vacation rental property is a good idea or not depends on the nature of the rental. If someone is there (say, an AirBnB owner) to receive and safeguard the packages, great. But I would think just having packages delivered to an empty house, and a vacation rental at that, would be dicey in the extreme.

As to insurance: I've learned the hard way that the USPS insurance is really only good for new merchandise for which you have a receipt. If it's used equipment and is damaged or lost in transit, too bad.
posted by DrGail at 5:29 AM on July 21, 2015

Best answer: Over the past year I've had several usps priority mail packages fall off the grid for days or even weeks at a time. I've never had anything totally lost so I don't worry too much about that, but I definitely wouldn't rely on it for anything that needs to arrive at a specific time.
posted by primethyme at 7:09 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have used both Luggage Free and Luggage Forward. I prefer Luggage Free because I have found them to be a little bit more convenient to work with.

They guarantee a delivery date. While I have a relatively small sample size, my luggage has always arrived before the guaranteed date, ahead of my departure.

I have shipped luggage when staying at both hotels and a vacation house rental. With the house rental I asked the owners if there was a local address I could ship to and if they would be willing and available to receive the luggage.
posted by Shanda at 7:55 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can also ship to a UPS store, if there's one reasonably accessible. If he's going to ship directly to the house and it needs to be there in the first couple of days that the house is in use, I wouldn't use USPS or UPS, because they sometimes deliver things early. You don't want the stuff delivered to an empty house. I think FedEx will deliver on a specific day but is generally more expensive.
posted by mskyle at 8:54 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you a frequent flyer? I am with United, and they have special allowances for things like scuba equipment. It might be worth checking your airline for similar allowances.
posted by Brittanie at 9:58 AM on July 21, 2015

Best answer: Not sure if it also applies to domestic flights, but a buddy and I were legit harassed by TSA for our (checked) haul bag full of trad gear.

I've shipped climbing equipment by UPS - ensure if you do so, the burst strength of the box you pack in meets the minimum to be covered by their insurance (which you should definitely get). Many UPS Stores will sell you the insurance without checking the box, but if your package splits and you have to file an insurance claim, I think the minimum they'll cover is 200lbs burst and 32lbs edge crush.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:08 PM on July 21, 2015

Considering how much mail I've had stolen over the years, I wouldn't risk screwing up a vacation by shipping my gear, even if I was pretty confident in my insurance. Even if you do get enough money to cover stolen/lost/broken stuff, you won't get it right away, and logistically how are you going to replace things fast enough to continue the vacation you've been planning for weeks/months? (Granted, I am a packing wizard and can get my scuba gear into a carry-on size rolling bag, so I don't have to suffer carrying stuff around.)
posted by ktkt at 9:32 PM on July 21, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all for wonderful answers, and so quickly. Gnik went with the post office, $48 for 2-day delivery for 2 flat rate boxes including insurance; UPS wanted more than twice that. It arrived on time at the vacation property. :-) Whew!
posted by Neeuq Nus at 4:04 PM on July 25, 2015

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