Shipping home my luggage from Nepal.
December 17, 2007 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm in Kathmandu, Nepal for the week, and I have a big, very heavy suitcase that I really don't want to drag around on the rest of my trip. Any advice on shipping it home to the USA?
posted by Hollow to Travel & Transportation around Kathmandu, Nepal (9 answers total)
How heavy is it? When will you need it? Are there things in it that are very important to you? Will it really bum you out if you never see it again? These are all questions that you need to answer before we can REALLY help you.

You can probably ship it surface for as little as a buck (or less) per pound, but that could take months-- or longer. And you may well have customs issues. (Or you may not.) Other transportation methods (air cargo, air courier, etc.) will be quicker but more expensive. Depending on what you have and how heavy it is, it may not be worth it to ship your suitcase back. Or maybe it is. Your question is far too general right now to really answer.
posted by dersins at 11:14 PM on December 17, 2007

1) Buy a cheap second suitcase and fill it with the things you don't want.
2) Mail the second suitcase home.
3) More space for souvenirs in suitcase 1!

According to the USPS rate calculator, a 20-lb package sent to Kathmandu will run about $37 for Priorty Mail International, and will take only 6-10 days. I doubt Nepal Post has a similar service, but surface post wasn't offered as an option.

But really, you need to go to a Nepal Post office and just ask them how much it would cost to mail your suitcase (or perhaps you should use a box?) home. Since you're in Kathmandu it shouldn't be too hard; even with the language barrier, which I don't think would be too serious, you could draw a picture of your suitcase, write "9 kg" above it, then draw an arrow and write "USA".
posted by mdonley at 1:46 AM on December 18, 2007

Nepal Post might take a looooooooooooong time. Our group shipped a small package to a member in Kathmandu from Germany and it took a month.
posted by divabat at 1:59 AM on December 18, 2007

Or just leave things behind (in an organized, tidy, clean manner!) at the places you're staying. Unless you're asking about the weight of the empty suitcase itself. In which case our advice about the contents of the suitcase doesn't seem so apropos.
posted by mdonley at 2:04 AM on December 18, 2007

Is there anything in your suitcase you don't want lost or damaged? If so, then don't send it in the mail. If not, might I suggest you give those items away?

In my experience unless you are sending things out by a professional, private ($$$) delivery service, bad things will happen. Egypt is a lot more connected than Nepal, I imagine, and it still took 3 months to deliver a letter to the States. So that sort of thing could happen to you. There are things sent to me in Egypt that I never received, but apparently that is expected here. I realize that Nepal is different than Egypt, but I am just assuming that mail delivery services tend to drop off once you leave developed countries.

Also, sending things by post from the States is blessedly cheap, for some reason. Sending them from anywhere else is expensive. I would be very, very surprised if you could send a 20lb (which I'm guessing is lighter than your suitcase; 20lb is not that much to lug around) package home to the States for less than $100. I had been contemplating doing this from the UK and just went for excess baggage instead -- it's so much cheaper.

A lot of people end up shipping things like books and clothing which may cost less to replace than the shipping costs. Basically my feeling is that anything that you can't just buy later (unless it costs a decent amount) is something you should try selling/giving away instead. If it is precious, then you should carry it with you, not leave it in the risky hands of the post office.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:54 AM on December 18, 2007

There's a UPS office in Kathmandu, or at least there used to be (been a while since I was in Nepal). Used to be one in Thamel. There's probably more. It wasnt really cheap, but its likely its the most reliable shipping service.
posted by elendil71 at 5:03 AM on December 18, 2007

So I guess to actually answer your question: I can't offer any concrete advice about shipping from Nepal itself, but in general:
  • It will be expensive
  • It will be risky
  • People might try to take things
So, in response, before taking your package to the post office you should
  • Get plenty of cash...I'd be bowled over if Nepal Post accepted any other kind of payment
  • Move everything to a box and ditch the suitcase...this should save some weight and thus some of the cost
  • If there's clothing, put it along the outside of the package for two reasons: first, it shields the more delicate items inside, and secondly if someone rips open the package and sees all that's in there is clothing, they might not bother searching for more valuable items inside
Ideally you would wrap the box many times over in tape to keep people from sneaking into the box...unfortunately many layers of customs officials will probably need to open and reopen the box so this is not really an option. And as far as customs is concerned, make sure to indicate that these are personal belongings that you owned before traveling, otherwise you can be hit by serious customs fees. This is also why you should transfer all of your valuable items to whatever luggage you plan to keep.

Also, let this be a lesson to everyone: pack as lightly as possible! There is nothing worse than having too much stuff to haul around. I've never gone "backpacking" (although I usually *do* use a backpack as my luggage), so thankfully I've never run into this problem.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:04 AM on December 18, 2007

It's been about six years since I was in Nepal, but I was in a similar situation-- I was traveling about Asia by backpack and had a large bag of stuff and gifts I decided I didn't want to lug around. So I sent it via surface. As I recall, there were maybe a couple little outfits that specialized in shipping things. Check your guidebook. If there's nothing in there, ask at the Kathmandu Guest house, I'm sure they get this question all the time.

I think it took around 6 weeks for my stuff to get home, but nothing was missing. I wouldn't send valuables this way-- I just sent clothes, a few gifts, and some outdoor hiking equipment. The cost wasn't ridiculous, but I couldn't tell you how much it was.
posted by justkevin at 5:52 AM on December 18, 2007

Thanks everyone. For the record, after checking with FedEx and DHL, I found that shipping home 20 kg (a pretty optimistic estiment for my five months worth of clothes and gifts and such) by air freight would likely run me US$400-500. Considering this is my budget for my whole trip, I've decided to just lighten the load by selling/giving/leaving some things and lug the thing around as best I can.
posted by Hollow at 2:52 AM on December 19, 2007

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