Try this route around dastardly baggage fees

Question: Not sure if you ever heard of this, but we are considering a Daytona Beach 2015 vacation and also strongly considering renting a home there for two weeks. Are you aware of the possibility of having our things shipped out there and allowing us to fly in? Certainly would free up time, and we feel it would add quality to our vacation if we didn’t have to worry about all of the luggage restrictions. Are you aware of any local companies providing this kind of service? Your assistance is appreciated. – Sharon

Answer: Shipping what you need is an alternative worth considering, especially if you pack light and your airline charges for every bag. It also can be a great way to have the extended vacation you want, especially when you’re going to become a temporary resident of a home. How else are all of the pool toys, skateboards, surfboards, golf clubs and more going to get there, considering you need clothes, too?

There are lots of services that specialize in shipping luggage, many of which offer door-to-door service (and most of which actually ship your stuff via FedEx, UPS or DHL). But there’s no particular reason to limit your options to a specialist, and you can save a lot of money if you don’t. You can ship directly with one of those companies yourself, or even through the U.S. Postal ServiceMail. Find companies to do the job by searching the Internet for “luggage shipping.”

Whichever you choose, you’re going to pay by weight, so packing light still matters. And last-minute decisions also can take the price into the stratosphere; the difference in price to ship the same bag with overnight versus four-day delivery can be more than $500.

The best way to decide whether shipping your things is better than flying with them is to go to your airline’s website and look up its fees for excess baggage, overweight baggage, sports equipment and “unusual items” (Delta allows you to check a natural Christmas tree as luggage, believe it or not).

You’ll then need to decide what you’re taking and find out how much it weighs, along with find out how much your preferred shipper will charge, and compare.

If you ship, you’ll also need to arrange for someone to “catch” the shipment on the other end. At a hotel or resort, it’s vital that you notify them that your things are being shipped so they accept the delivery. For a rental home, you could arrange with the owner to receive your things before your arrival. Alternatives include having your stuff held at the shipper’s office for pickup or having it delivered to your rental the day after your arrival.

But don’t fly too light.

Take a small carry-on bag for your family that has your medicines, any vital medical devices, valuables and anything you need to make your first day or two worthwhile in case your delivery doesn’t happen as planned. Swimsuits come to mind for a Florida trip. This advice applies to people checking bags with their airline, too.

Send travel questions to lschwarz@stcloudtimes.com. Get travel news at www.sctimes.com/travel, www.facebook.com/sctimeslisa and on Twitter @LisaSSchwarz.
Lisa Schwarz

About Lisa Schwarz

By day, I'm a St. Cloud Times editor guiding coverage of politics, government, public safety and business beats. By night, I'm leading the cubicle jailbreak as the Times Traveler. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LisaSSchwarz and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimeslisa
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