When deciding the logistics of getting our stuff from the states to France, we decided to try to sell as much as possible and to then mail over the rest. We didn’t own anything worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it was easier to just sell everything. We did have a family member mail over a number of boxes for us though, which was very helpful. Here are some things to note from our experience.
- Mailing boxes is expensive. It was about $80 per box for us. This was the cheapest option as it was a flat rate type of thing.
- Mailing boxes takes longer than letters. Some boxes took two weeks; some boxes took 4 weeks and were then held at customs until we mailed them a letter explaining exactly what was inside the boxes and the exact value of everything.
- Boxes are mistreated at the post office. Whatever your current idea of “mistreated” may be, it’s actually worse than that. We’re talking they throw it off of buildings and then play soccer with it type of mistreated (see the image below).
Here are tips on packing that will help smooth things along during the whole mailing process.
- Use a large garbage (construction) bag to line the inside of it so that water won’t damage the contents.
- Put the soft things near the outside and fragile things near the middle.
- Pack the box as FULL as possible, especially if anything fragile is inside. Packing the bag full means that the contents won’t shift while the postman is playing soccer with the box. The contents of the box help it keep it’s shape and it’s the best defense against mistreatment.
- Write the exact contents and the exact value of everything inside the box on the outside of the box and tape it to the outside of the box. The tape should completely cover (like laminating) the paper so that water won’t ruin it. Or if you’re worried about things getting stolen you may just note this somewhere. However, we had two boxes that arrived in customs for which we were asked for their contents and there was no indication as to which box was which and no way to tell them apart. It didn’t pose a problem though, so use your best judgement.