We are planning a trip to Australia. We are going to spend some months there and we would like to take with us more than the current baggage limit. One option would be carrying in the plane just what we strictly need, and sending the rest of the things (between 3 and 4 large suitcases) by boat (we don't mind if it takes several weeks, or if it is not a door-to-door service). We though this was possible... however, this seem to be expensive: the best estimates we could get are around $2000 (container spaces, or international moving companies). Maybe our research wasn't pointed in the right direction... do you have any advice?

We are travelling from LAX (Los Angeles, California) to Melbourne.

Edit: this would be a one-way service. It doesn't matter if we can't bring everything back.

  • This service maybe useful carrymyluggage.com
    – Simon
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 16:34
  • Their site is rather limited.
    – Karlson
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 17:00
  • What is so essential that you just can't buy in Australia and then sell again / donate away when you leave? $2000 (each way I guess) is a lot of money that could be saved. On the longer trips I've been on (up to 4 months or so), I've always packed the same as if it was 2 weeks. You just need to wash your clothes frequently.
    – daamsie
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 6:33
  • @daamsie If all the stuff that is being sent is less then $2000 it might be worth it but generally it won't be. Plus not everything available in the US is available in Australia.
    – Karlson
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 16:15
  • $2000 each way -- that's $4000. Admittedly you outlined some possible cheaper options below. Still... expensive. That's got to be some pretty special US-only stuff to warrant shipping it over for just a few months. There's really not that many things that you could only get in the US that you couldn't live without for a few months. To me it just sounds like a case of over-packing. Where I would consider it reasonable is if there is some unique US-only thing that you wanted to bring here and leave with someone in Australia.
    – daamsie
    Commented Apr 6, 2013 at 5:49

3 Answers 3


(1) Container: Freight forwarders will send cargo by sea by container at rates far far far below those being quoted. Rates are usually by the cubic meter and weight is usually irrelevant as long as you are not shipping pig iron or similarly dense material. There may be a 1 cubic metre minimum size. Pack it all in :-).

You will have to get somebody who will arrange to incorporate your "tiny" load into a container full and pay extra accordingly. I do not know rates from USA to OZ but eg from China to NZ is about $US80 per cubic metre !!!! and delivery times are in the 4 to 6 weeks range. Even after paying freight forwarder and customs agent charges at the receiving end you should be comfortabley ahead of the other alternatives suggested so far.

(2) JUMBO boxes: Companies like DHL offer "Jumbo" boxes or similar with a 25 kg weight limit and fixed size. This may be useful. They are not cheap compared to container freight but otherwise are about as cheap as you can get for airfreight.

(3) Buy it there: What are you taking that is not already sold in Australia?
Consider buying or hiring. Second hand buying (look at ebay) may help. You may be able to get somebody in Oz to buy for you in advance. If you have no contacts there I have some friends who MAY be willing to assist for a reasonable fee.

(4) Prebooked bag - new service: Air NZ has as of November 2012 introduced a pre-booked bag service and this may be being copied by others. This allows you to book in excess baggage (check in with the rest , just pre book) at far less per kg than normal excess baggage rates. Hong kong-Auckland cost me about $US70/23 kg for a first bag ans about 50% more for a second.

(5) Bilge class: OTW far far shot department: Talk to some yachtsmen - somebody may be willing to carry your well sealed gear bilge class :-). They may want signed in blood indemnity re contents. Same may apply to freighters. Choose well :-).

  • Upvoted! this is a nice answer. Re: "You will have to get somebody who will arrange to incorporate your "tiny" load into a container full and pay extra accordingly": this is the part I'm missing.. so far, we couldn't find this somebody :(
    – Sebastian
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 1:18
  • @Sebastian In China there are people who spend their whole time piecing together parts loads into containers. I'd imagine tha a version of this exists in the US. I imagine that companies who freight forward large quantities by container would be able to point you in the right direction. Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 7:32

It all depends on the weight of your baggage and its size.

  • Luggage Forward quotes about $1300-$1500 for the standard size bags (50lb).
  • Luggage Free offers $7.75/lb so to get to $2000 you will need to ship about 260lbs.
  • Discount Shipping charges $560/150lb for the door-to-door service.

So depending on how much stuff you ship it could come out more economical then $2k.


Almost certainly the cheapest and easiest option is to just take it all with you on the plane. For example, on Qantas each you can take two bags up to 23 kg each for free, which means that with two passengers, the total cost for four bags with up to 92 kg of stuff is zero.

If that's not enough, additional bags for flights to/from the US cost A$123 (~US$115) each, still way less than any complicated container schemes. Also remember that any freight arriving in Oz has to go through Customs inspection, which is slow and costly, whereas if you bring it with you on the plane, this is completed instantly and for free as you leave the airport.

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