Work Abroad

Packing Tips

Now you’ve invested all your available cash it would be nice if what you bought actually gets back home with you, wouldn’t it?

By Post

Do not leave it to the locals to post it for you. In most cases they will ‘forget’ to send part of it or else completely fuck up the packaging. I once left a shopkeeper to send me my clay boxes – he put a single sheet of newspaper in as packaging. They arrived 90% smashed to pieces.

If you are posting stuff back home there’s the question of tax. You can generally get past this by writing ‘gift’ on the front of the package and sending your parcels to different friends – not more than one per address. Generally this class of post allows you 15-2o kg at a time.

Get receipts from the shopkeeper for far less than you actually paid. That way if the parcels are intercepted the tax you’ll pay will be far less.

It is of course far cheaper to send stuff back home by boat but make sure you know how long it might take. From India the average is 4 months but I’ve heard or packages that have turned up 2 years later.

If you’re sending stuff by sea make sure it’s all packaged in waterproof plastic.

If you send by air do your maths first and make sure it’s worth it.

Taking it with you on the plane

If you’re carrying it with you by hand be ready for trouble with your airline. You’ll probably be murdering your baggage allowance. One friend once took 75kg from India to the UK by hand (50kg overweight). He managed this by howling, chewing his sandals and finally breaking down in tears. The Indians had never seen a 40 year old Englishman in hysterics before and let him and his tat through.

‘No, of course I’m not planning to sell all this stuff, officer!’ There are a number of excuses you can come up with for customs. Be very, very nice to them and try:

1. I’ve been travelling around the world for 3 years and these are my souvenirs.

2. I’m getting married this year and this is all decoration for our new house.

3. These are just free samples (all 30 kg) so that I can reorder if any shops show any interest.

4. These are gifts for my family. I have a lot of cousins.