Packing vs Shipping when moving abroad

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Jul 29th, 2010, 03:23 PM
  #1
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Packing vs Shipping when moving abroad

Hello. I am a student at the University of Washinton and I am going to be leaving for a year-long study abroad program in South Africa in a few months and I am having trouble deciding how to pack my significant amount of clothing and personal belongings. I have been considering everything from space bags to Fedex, but I can't decide on the best option. I am concerned about theft and the amount of time shipping takes. I would love any suggestions on how to balance cost and security.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 03:38 PM
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I think a combination approach would be good, including:
1) Don't take as much stuff as you are contemplating. Really cut back to the bare essentials.
2) Max. out your allowance on the flight over.
3) Ship another couple boxes, if required.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 04:06 PM
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Cut waaaaay back on 'stuff' -- you'll find most students in most parts of the world make do w/ a lot less.

Then max out two large suitcases and your carry on. Yes, you'll likely have to pay a bit of overweight but that won't be as much as shipping costs.

Then after you are there, if you discover something really essential you forgot, either have your family mail it to you, or buy it locally, either new or used from a departing student.

Your storage space is likely to be pretty skimpy - don't take much more than the basics.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 05:17 PM
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I was originally considering taking 2 suitcases, I just wasn't sure if it would be better to take one and ship the rest instead. I go to school close to home so this hasn't been a problem for me before. Thank you for the advice. It will be very helpful.
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Jul 29th, 2010, 06:03 PM
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If you can get it on the plane with you, that's always a better value than shipping. So I'd max. the 2 suitcases at just under 50 lbs. each (assuming a typical allowance, check with your own airline to be sure).
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Jul 29th, 2010, 06:23 PM
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One thing you might want to consider is instead of two large suitcases, is a rolling duffle bag(s).

You could take a large suitcase and a large rolling duffle bag, or two rolling duffles. Just as easy to manuever, packs just as much, but it's easier to put away at your destination. You might want to look into where you'll be living and see what kind of storage space you'll have. When I lived in a dorm there physically was no place for a large suitcase. A rolling duffle could have been slid under the bed, or stood up in a small space between a bookcase and wall, etc.

Space bags are a good idea for clothes, but really, take fewer clothes than you think you'll need. You're not leaving for a few months so you have time to pretend pack a few times. Write down the things that you wear for a month. I'd bet you likely wear a handful of things over and over (most people do). You don't need to take something that you wear once every 3 or 4 months. Put together a packing list and put it all out on a bed. Now, cut it down until it all fits into two laundry baskets. That will easily fit into two suitcases and if you pack well you'll probably be able to add a bit more. You'll still have your carry on for a laptop, a few books, etc.

Is anyone planning on visiting while you're away? Are you planning on flying home at some point part way through your year abroad? If so, more things could be transported at that point if needed.

What are you planning on taking other than clothes? You really need very little beyond clothes as most students have very little space for decorating. Bedding could be purchased once you get there, as could bathroom stuff like shampoo and body wash.

Put up a post on the South Africa board and ask if there's anything that's hard to get there that you should be sure to bring with you.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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You have received some great advice. Truly, the packing list will be your biggest helper. Once you keep writing things you need and then seeing how much you have accumulated, you will decide to leave many items behind.
Two suitcases or duffels can pack a lot more than you can imagine since your basic everyday outfits will be simple shorts, t-shirts, jeans etc. All can be rolled and thus every inch of space can be used up in your luggage.
American students are used to just too many items that are really not essential for everyday living but I think are luxury items.
So, chop down your list and take the most basic items needed. Then buy other stuff there. Remember things will also be cheaper at your destination. After using them you could sell them to another student at a low price.
A flashlight is always good to take. But try to limit stuff with batteries as they tend to be expensive.
More Fodorites who have traveled to Africa may give you additional advice.
Have fun, it will be great memorable experience.
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Jul 30th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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Great idea to use two duffle bags instead of actual suitcases. Maybe you don't even need wheels since you'll be staying in one place after arrival. That could really help since wheels/frames/handles add a lot of weight to your empty bag. A straight out duffle weighs almost nothing.

If you have 100 lbs. checked & 18 lbs. carryon allowance on the flight (for example) I'd try to make that work, and only take that much 'stuff'.
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Aug 13th, 2015, 07:26 AM
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Maybe anniesmith, you failed to notice that the original post was from 2010 and the student has been back home for years?
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Aug 13th, 2015, 09:39 AM
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I picture the OP at the airport with her bike (!), her musical instrument (!), her family albums (!), her pc tower (!) and her pets (!!) balanced atop her two suitcases like something out of Dr. Seuss.

I therefore thank anniesmith for the mental image.
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Aug 13th, 2015, 11:27 AM
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Welcome to Fodors anniesmith . . . now, just what are you advertising
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Aug 13th, 2015, 11:42 AM
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Assuming she's some kind of travel agent hoping someone will Google her based on the posting.

A bit better attention to detail might have been helpful to her "brand", however.
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Aug 13th, 2015, 01:31 PM
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I'm sorry I commented on an ad--one shouldn't, I know. I couldn't resist!
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