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When you move overseas, how do you send your luggage to your new home? This is something that I had to deal with recently, with my move from the United States to the Czech Republic.
There was a time when the vast majority of my belongings fit into one backpack — a time when I dressed exclusively in hippie pants and beer t-shirts. That’s not the case anymore (AND THANKFULLY SO!). I’ve acquired a lot of things that make me happy over the years.
I moved out of my New York apartment in November 2019. I kept most of my furniture, books, and belongings in a storage unit for the time being; I brought an SUV’s worth of personal items to my mom’s house.
My plan was to spend the next few months in Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador, then come back home and move to Prague in May; when COVID hit, my plans went haywire.
I ended up flying from the US to Serbia with two suitcases, plus my carry-on backpack and purse. I was originally planning to return home in September and perhaps again for Christmas; had that been the case, I might have brought extra bags when flying. But with COVID, I didn’t have that choice.
So what did I do? I used My Baggage, a company specializing in door-to-door international luggage shipping. This way, I got to send all the items I wanted to have with me in Prague — and receive them just a week later.
Last fall, My Baggage reached out to me, asking for potential promotion. It was perfect timing! They provided me with free shipping for four bags, a value of $964, in exchange for this review. I paid an additional $179 out of pocket because two bags were oversized.
My Baggage Review
Why use a company like My Baggage instead of working with a delivery company? It works out to be cheaper than shipping with a traditional provider. Plus, it’s easier: they give you all the forms ready to go, it’s shipped from door to door, and they help you with the customs process.
MyBaggage started in the UK when Managing Director Paul, a native of Scotland, was studying in Northern Ireland. Getting his belongings back and forth between Edinburgh and Belfast was a huge hassle — not to mention expensive. And that’s just a domestic journey!
He knew there had to be a better way and founded Uni Baggage, a company designed to help students send their belongings back and forth easily. Eight years later, the company was rebranded to My Baggage and their focus became people who were traveling and moving abroad.
Today their routes have grown from three to 40,000 (!) and they donate 5% of their profits to charity, including the Down Syndrome Association and Comic Relief.
Now that COVID has hit, they’ve been helping people send their belongings back and forth.
Why Ship Luggage?
There are times when you might want to ship pieces of luggage rather than wait months for them. Especially if they tend to be bulkier items.
A lot of people say, “You can buy whatever you need there!” but that is NOT always the case. Try finding underwear bigger than a size 2 if you’re in Thailand. Or decent winter clothing anywhere the temperature rarely dips below 50.
I was particularly anxious for my heavy winter coat and snow boots. It was getting colder, and what if I got a winter campaign in a rural area? (Yeah, no winter campaigns ended up happening, even domestically.) I could buy something locally, but the clothing selection in the Czech Republic isn’t great. Some of my Czech friends drive two hours to Dresden, Germany, to buy clothes!
I also wanted more of my home decor. Over the four years in New York, I slowly and beautifully decorated my apartment. As for here, this apartment is in need of some decor. You might remember from my post about redecorating our apartment that we were basically starting with a blank slate.
This would give me the opportunity to make my new Czech apartment feel more like home.
What Can You Ship?
You can ship quite a lot of stuff — clothing and personal items are no problem for the most part. But there are some items that are a bit dicier.
Most of the prohibited items aren’t surprising — you can’t ship firearms, live animals, alcohol, tobacco, cash, lottery tickets. You can see the full list of prohibited items here.
But keep in mind that nail polish and liquids (including creams and gels) are prohibited as well. That might be an issue if you’re planning to ship your cosmetics collection.
Additionally, there’s a long list of items that you can ship but for which you’ll receive no compensation: art, electronics, musical instruments, confectionary items, etc.
If you’re shipping boxes, they can’t be regular boxes — they need to be double-reinforced boxes. You can find these at home improvement stores and online.
What You Should Know
There are two things that you especially need to know before shipping your items:
You will need to fill out paperwork for customs — which means that you need a list of every item in there. Yes, every eyeshadow pallet, every pair of socks, every book. Don’t make the mistake of packing up your bags and then doing the list afterward by memory. It needs to be done while you’re packing!
You will need to print papers for the labels and customs forms. Just know that you’ll need access to a printer. And if you don’t own a printer and usually do your printing at a shop or library, know that you may not have that option during COVID. This might be a time to find a local friend with a printer.
How It Went
My mom very generously packed three suitcases and a box for me at her home. Some were friends’ old suitcases that didn’t need them anymore. To figure out what to pack, she sent me photos of my belongings and I would color in which ones I wanted to pack!
We decided to send three suitcases full of my clothing and personal items, and we would ship several of my framed prints in the box. The box was packed tightly with extra clothing and towels to keep the artwork secure.
We filled out the customs form and priced everything out. She then printed the customs forms and all of the labels for each piece of luggage.
Once we decided on shipping dates, she was given a window of a few hours for a pickup. She received text notifications letting her know when they were arriving.
The driver showed up on time and went over the paperwork with her — all safely from a distance and masked in the time of COVID — then packed them up on the truck.
Each day I tracked the delivery — from Boston to New York to Leipzig to Prague. Six days after the luggage was picked up, it arrived in Prague.
Then for a few days, it was stuck there.
Customs was where things got a bit complicated — but I understand that this may be more to due with the country itself. I’ve had a few international deliveries to the Czech Republic and sometimes I’ve needed to verify the value of the contents of the package.
For four days, my luggage was waiting in the Czech Republic and the tracking information said “waiting to clear customs.” I contacted customs and they needed more information about my situation in Prague.
I told them that I had just moved there, and they asked for proof. I sent them my lease and all the information I had provided to allow me into the Czech Republic as a partner of a Czech permanent resident.
Then they asked for additional proof of where I had lived beforehand. I suggested my lease from New York, and they accepted it. Good thing I knew exactly where it was in my mom’s house!!! She took photos of the lease and sent them. I sent them to customs.
A few days later, the items were delivered to my door — and I didn’t have to pay customs fees at all!
I HAVE MY STUFF!
One of the toughest things about leaving New York was saying goodbye to a beautiful apartment that I had spent years decorating. So it was really nice to get some of my items and add my touches to the Prague apartment.
I am especially happy to have my bedding — the textured white West Elm duvet and matching shams, the silvery decor pillows, the champagne-colored sequined pillow that I found on Etsy, the gray and white woven throw blanket that spoke to me on One Kings Lane.
We’ve since painted the bedroom a warm pale gray, and I love the rainy-day feel it gives you! The perfect color palette for a cozy day.
Winter is now here, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have my winter coat — it’s black, it’s long, and it’s WARM. My winter boots have proven indispensable on some snowy walks here.
It’s just so nice to have my STUFF!
As a bonus, it turns out that one of those old suitcases is my kitten Murray’s favorite spot! Sometimes his brother Lewis joins him there. We’re not getting rid of this one. They love it too much!
I’m just thrilled to have my belongings here in Prague, and I’m already planning out what the next shipment will be. I’m positive that I will be using My Baggage again in the next few months.
And if you’re interested, you can get a $10 discount off your first order with this link.
Have you ever moved luggage? How did you do it?
Thanks to My Baggage for providing me with $964 worth of credit in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are my own.