Packing all your overseas shopping into your luggage might not be the best solution, especially in these 6 situations.
Uh oh, your overseas shopping has gone just a tad overboard. With high value or bulky products in tow, you may not want to chuck it in your luggage – a lot can happen on commercial airlines, and that includes losing your valuables.
You may want to ship it back from your location instead. Here’s when that would be a better idea.
When You Exceed Your Travel Insurance Coverage
Most travel insurance policies don’t insure individual items for more than S$500. Some policies may not provide any coverage at all, for items such watches and jewellery. This will be described in the terms and conditions of your travel insurance (if you’re not sure, call the insurer to check).
If you ship an item however, you can opt to insure it in full (most major courier companies, such as UPS and DHL, will have insurance options).
As a rule of thumb, any item that significantly exceeds the travel insurance coverage should be shipped back instead.
However, we emphasise that you must insure the shipment, otherwise it could be even worse than relying on travel insurance.
Some courier companies, for instance, have a maximum liability of only $100. Without insurance, that’s all you’ll get if they lose your item.
When You Want to Board Fast
If you’re a business traveller, you sometimes find yourselves on a tight schedule. You might, for example, have an important meeting that would leave you with exactly 90 minutes to get to the airport.
One way to move faster is to ship your belongings home instead. That way, when you get to the airport, you don’t have any bags to check in – you can just grab your ticket and run for the departure gate.
You may also want to consider this if you’re travelling alone. Besides the potential for exceeding luggage restrictions (see point 3), you’ll have a harder time travelling up and down the airport.
If you ship your items first, you can head to the departure gate with nothing but your carry-on luggage.
When You’ve Busted the Weight Limit
Weigh your luggage at the end of each travel day. This will give you some sense how close to the weight limit you are.
If you want to buy something that will take you over the limit, consider shipping your things instead.
Aside from the benefits in point 2, the cost of shipping is offset by what you’d save paying for overweight luggage.
Depending on your airline, going over by just five kilograms can potentially set you back as much as S$40 to S$60. Also, you should know that overweight luggage fees get more expensive the further you fly.
When You’re Bringing Prototypes or Samples
Shipping is safer than using your luggage, when it comes to critical items such as business prototypes or samples of new or secret formulas.
The reason is that large courier companies have advanced tracking systems – you can always determine where your stuff is, and retrieval of lost or delayed items is quicker.
Most airlines still don’t offer luggage tracking; and for many, their cargo management systems are less specialised than large courier companies.
This makes it a risky proposition bringing home product prototypes or samples of groundbreaking formulas in your luggage.
When You’re Travelling With Dependents
If you’re travelling with children, the elderly, or other dependents who need your attention, then seriously consider keeping things light.
You may already be weighted down with essentials like medicine, warm clothes, milk powder, and so forth – adding purchases on top of it will likely bust your luggage restrictions.
More importantly, you want to be able to focus on your dependents, and that’s easier when you’re not dragging a warehouse worth of goods with you.
Ship your items back, and keep only the essentials in your carry-on luggage. It will make your trip a lot easier.
When You Need Speedy Delivery
Sometimes, you just can’t wait till you fly back. Maybe it’s a birthday present, or something that a friend/family member needs to do their job.
Courier companies often offer express services, and some can even deliver overnight (albeit at a higher cost). Thanks to these services, you don’t have to wait till the end of your trip to get the items home.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.