Fed up with schlepping bags around airports, and paying more and more to airlines? Here’s an alternative.
Last year, airlines in the United States made more than $3 billion in fees for checked luggage. But it’s not just the cost that can dampen a family trip; it’s hauling all those bags. Is there an easier way to get clothes, baby food, golf clubs and hiking boots to and from your destination?
Perhaps it’s time to consider a door-to-door luggage shipping service, be it a newcomer like DUFL that packs and dry-cleans your clothes for you or a veteran like Luggage Forward that delivers your gear — even to a cruise ship.
Geared to business travelers, DUFL doesn’t just ship clothes: It stores, packs and dry-cleans them for you, too. After signing up through the app or website, you’re sent a suitcase (free to use as long as you’re a member of the service). You fill it with your usual gear and then use the app to schedule the bag to be picked up. You need not do this for every trip. DUFL stores your clothes and suitcase in a warehouse year-round.
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The first time you send the company your packed suitcase, it photographs your items and creates a virtual online closet so you can see everything or read a description. Whenever you’re about to travel, use the app to select which items you’d like and when you would like the bag to arrive. Then DUFL packs and sends the bag to your hotel. When it’s time to leave, you schedule a pickup online, and DUFL takes the bag back to a warehouse, dry-cleans dirty clothes and stores everything until the next time.
Cost: $9.95 a month for storage and $99 for each round trip (three-day shipping) within the United States, which includes dry-cleaning fees. Most deliveries are on weekdays; Saturdays cost extra. Overnight shipping is an additional $49.
DUFL Sports is $9.95 a month for a locker, which is large enough to hold several items, such as golf clubs and ski equipment. Standard three-day domestic shipping for golf clubs starts at about $75 round trip, including cleaning.
Bottom line: Best for business travelers, people who regularly travel with sports gear and those who can be without certain wardrobe items (or own doubles). Note that not all international destinations are served.
This company, which has acquired a number of competitors, has been shipping clothes and sports gear for more than 10 years. It’s also one of the more far-reaching players, shipping among hundreds of countries and territories worldwide, as well as to and from cruise ships and golf courses.
Pack your clothes in bags the same way you would for air travel and then have Luggage Forward pick them up from you. And the company will complete and submit all customs documentation.
Cost: To send a standard bag (about 50 pounds) from New York to Miami in mid-June was $198 round trip for five-business-day shipping. Certain times of day and weekends cost more (cruise ships are an exception).
Bottom line: Especially appealing for cruise lovers, golfers and those traveling internationally. All-inclusive pricing, including customs documentation, makes it easy to ship and stick to a budget.
Send My Bag
Last summer, this popular Britain-based luggage service introduced shipping within the United States. SendMyBag.com pickups typically take place on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Or you can choose from more than 5,000 drop-off locations nationwide.
Cost: Sending a 66-pound bag round trip between New York and Miami was $140 (for five to six-business-day shipping), according to a recent price quote.
Bottom line: Good prices. The current collection window for domestic services is long, but the company is rolling out shorter windows for domestic services this summer.
If you’re checking only a bag or two and you’re on a budget, go with the airline. Airlines’ fees for the first bag are typically affordable.
But if you plan to check more than two bags, or very heavy or oversize bags, use a shipping service. It’s likely to cost the same or less.