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February 2006 Vol. 32, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Ship Ahead Rather Than Carry Your Gear?

from the February, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

PADI instructor Ken Davis travels to the Florida Keys 2-3 times per year. He purchased a padded Akona gear bag, but reports that “My new dive bag has holes, broken zippers, grease, and looks 10 years old.” Although his gear has escaped destruction, Davis says, “In the future, I plan to mail my mask, fins, and computer to the dive shop ahead of time and will take a pass at letting the airlines trash my expensive dive gear.”

Besides the post office, several companies pick up at your door and deliver directly to many destinations. Rates and speed of service vary. Frommer’s has found that FedEx is the low-cost domestic provider for fiveday ground service ($33.80 to ship a 54-pound bag from New York to Seattle). For faster deliveries, a competitor called Luggage Free was cheaper.

International rates are sky high. FedEx quoted almost $600 to deliver a 44-lb. bag from the San Francisco Bay Area to Belize City in three business days. DHL will ship the same bag to Australia for $400. (Get quotes for any destination at Rates drop dramatically if you can ship weeks in advance

Shipped luggage can be insured cheaply. You’ll need to provide customs declarations, including your itinerary, passport number, and an inventory of the contents. Some countries charge duties and taxes.

So while the cost of shipping internationally is extreme, international carriers are charging more for extra bags. And if you’re off to Australia and you left your camera gear at home, a timely call from the airport to a friend or spouse might still get the bag to you in time to not ruin your diving. Or, if you’re returning home with suitcases of artifacts, shipping by slow boat may be much less expensive than paying for excess luggage. A hotel concierge can find a shipper for you.

A few unique shippers: Luggage Express ( or 866-744-7224); Luggage Free ( or 800-361-6871) and Virtual Bellhop at or 877-235-5467.

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