Ship or pack? What to do with all your stuff when moving abroad

Once all the paperwork is said and done, you are well on your way to moving across the pond… but how do you actually get all of your stuff overseas?

The number one rule: Reduce your stuff.

Before you even consider a move, you should begin slimming your wardrobe, your home accessories, and all of your other worldly possessions. Not only will this add some cash to your pocket, it will allow you more flexibility in your move.


Begin checking airline’s baggage limits before booking a flight.

For instance, Icelandair, allows 2 FREE checked bags, plus a carry-on, and a personal item. It doesn’t get better than that.

Meanwhile, major airlines like Delta and American Airlines generally allow 1 free checked bag for overseas flights. Even if you have a domestic connecting flight, that bag flies fo’ free.

Because general restrictions apply—weight limit of 50lbs per bag—I recommend paying the fee for a second checked bag.


  • Going over this weight limit results in a $100 fee.
  • Paying for a second checked bag generally costs between $100 to $200.

So basically, you can get twice the space (at a 50lb limit on the second bag as well) for the price of one extremely heavy, clunky, stuffed checked bag.

For anyone planning to settle in the U.K. without many valuable personal items, I’d always recommend packing over shipping.


The giant myth is that sending things via a shipping container will save you money. Now, that is true if and only if you are packing up your entire house—furniture, cars, pots, pans, the kitchen sink—and moving it overseas with you. Otherwise, it is not worth it.


  • Shipping services can be crazy expensive.

For a 20 ft. container from the U.S. to the U.K., it comes in between $5,400 to 6,400. To see how much would fit in one of those bad boys plus the other details, you can find  more info here.

Meanwhile, shipping by mail is also a spendy feat. Sending a 30 x 20 x 10 in. package weighing in at 45 lbs from my hometown to England via UPS cost a minimum of $453.00.

I was better off paying a measly $100 to bring an additional 50 lbs worth of goods packed in a second checked bag.

Skip this unless you plan to ship everything you own and meet it on the other side.

Research will be your best route when it comes to what is best for you, but in my comparison between shipping and packing, no contest exists. Packing wins all the way.

What are your top tips on what to keep, pack, throw, and ship?

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