Save Money by Shipping Your Luggage

You may spend less by using a shipping company -- rather than the airlines -- to get your bags to your destination.

You may be able to save money by shipping your luggage rather than checking it in the next time you fly. The idea might sound absurd. But if you do the math – as has done for you in this chart -- you’ll see that it would cost you less in some cases to send your bags to your destination by FedEx, UPS or U.S. Postal Service ground shipping.

Passengers who have luggage that exceeds airlines’ size and weight limits will score the biggest savings. They’ll spend about $50 less by shipping one overweight suitcase than checking it in -- and up to $200 by shipping two overweight bags.

Even if the cost is the same for shipping and checking bags, you get so much more from FedEx and UPS, says founder George Hobica, who ships his luggage. They have better delivery records than the airlines, they provide tracking numbers so you can follow your shipment online and they let you insure items that the airlines don’t, he says. Plus, you’re more likely to get a refund from a shipping company than an airline if your luggage is damaged or lost.

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Another benefit: You won’t have to wait in long lines at the airport to check your bags. And if you have small children, you’ll be a lot less stressed if you don’t have to lug your kids and luggage from the parking lot to the terminal.

The key is to ship your luggage a few days BEFORE your flight so that it arrives at your destination when you do. If you’re visiting a relative, the shipping logistics are easy. But if you’re going to be staying in a hotel or condo, you should consider having the shipping company hold your items so you can pick them up. Otherwise, you might have to pay a fee to have the hotel or rental office hold your luggage until you arrive.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor,

Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.

Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.