Have you ever wondered if you could lighten your travel load by shipping your suitcase to your destination? Believe it or not, you can in fact send a suitcase anywhere you like…and doing so is more common than you might think. Depending on the size of your suitcase, USPS and UPS both offer viable, cost-effective options. So, the next time you take a trip, try shipping your suitcase a few days before you leave instead of carrying it with you. That way, you can smile to yourself when you see other travelers hauling their luggage around and fighting for coveted space in those overhead compartments!
You Don’t Need to Pack Your Suitcase in a Box, Unless You Want To
First thing’s first: you don’t need packaging to ship luggage! The suitcase exterior itself is already built-in packaging for the contents inside. As for the process of measuring and weighing your suitcase, treat it just like you would any other package: measure the length, width, and the height, and then weigh it. Once you’ve done that, plug all of that information into the shipping software you use to purchase and print your shipping labels. Pretty simple, wouldn’t you say?
Pro Tip: Just because you don’t need packaging doesn’t mean you’re exempt from following industry-standard shipping procedures. For instance, consider whether or not your luggage contains any hazardous materials before you buy your label. Also, comb through your contents to make sure you’re not sending any items that either USPS or UPS prohibits.
You can see the items that USPS and UPS prohibit in the following links:
USPS Offers the Cheapest Rates to Ship a Suitcase (though You Might Get Slower Service)
If your suitcase is small enough, USPS will offer the cheapest shipping rates out of all three major carriers in the United States. Most suitcases that USPS will allow you to ship will qualify for Priority Mail service, but don’t go committing just yet! The cheapest USPS service by far for shipping a suitcase will be Parcel Select Ground (aka “Retail Ground” when you go to the Post Office).
Parcel Select Ground is one of the most competitive shipping services that the US Postal Service offers, and beats Priority Mail prices in the majority of cases. The thing is, it’s also the slowest service that USPS offers. USPS advertises estimated delivery timeframes for Parcel Select Ground to be between 2-8 business days…but in our experience, some packages can even take up to 2 weeks to arrive.
All in all, you might save the most money with Parcel Select Ground, but you get what you pay for, and you might run into some spotty service.
For Larger Suitcases, Ship with UPS
For larger suitcases that are outside the maximum dimensions USPS allows for, your next best bet is to ship with UPS. UPS allows for larger packages than USPS in general, and also gives you a higher maximum weight threshold of up to 150 pounds per shipment.
On top of higher size and weight limits, UPS also offers faster Ground service than USPS does. Instead of typical delivery timeframes of 2-8 business days, UPS delivers Ground packages between 1-5 business days. Sometimes they even deliver Ground packages overnight, if the destination is close enough to the shipping origin! So, if you’d like more reliable service, it may be worth it to pay the extra money to ship UPS Ground no matter the size of your suitcase.
Learn about the differences between UPS Ground and USPS Ground.