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Shipping clothing back to the States

Okay, I've read all the packing tips and they were all so very helpful for my trip last year to Italy. This fall I have a different problem. I am scheduled to be in Barcelona for business for 5 days in November. I need to have corporate wear available for each day as well as some evening items. But, I plan to extend my trip for another 12 days or so for a leisure trip through Spain (still working on an itinerary). I know my bag will be heavy. (When I travel for leisure I limit myself to 2 pairs of shoes. For this trip I will need at least 5 pairs.) I don't want to schlep a heavy bag around when I leave Barcelona. I was considering packing up all my business attire and shipping it back before leaving Barcelona. The expense is an issue but I can't think of another option. (I don't plan to fly out of Barcelona.)
Any thoughts, suggestions? Please don't tell me to "dress down"--Europeans dress so much more formal for business than Americans and I've yet to be in a corporate setting abroad where people were "dressed down."
Thanks!

Posted by
21865 posts

There are no other options other than ship it or carry it unless one of the attendees at the meeting could take the bag back as checked luggage. You can check the actually expense by going to any of the shipping sites and plugging in your data - size, weight, etc. It could be a $100 but it is worth it not to drag that bag around.

Posted by
4724 posts

Please don't tell me to "dress down"--Europeans dress so much more formal for business than Americans and I've yet to be in a corporate setting abroad where people were "dressed down."

But are five pairs of shoes really necessary? Are you intending to wear a different pair every day? Surely one suit would suffice (two at the most) with a change of shirt and tie for each day?

European's are beginning to dress less formally for work, particularly in the UK, but for the most part it's simply losing the tie.

Posted by
489 posts

We were just in Spain and Portugal in April and flew thru Madrid. And yes, you must dress for success in the business community. Definitely different than in the USA or UK.
I would check with your hotel in Barcelona. They may have a suggestion for a good international shipper. I would think you are not the first to have something shipped ahead. Keep it light. See if you can get those shoes down to 4.
Good luck.

Posted by
10126 posts

Mid-trip we often send back items including gifts we have acquired, hiking sticks no longer needed, heavy jackets when the cold part of a trip is over. On average €100-150 for a box. Worth it? You bet! See if there is a Mailboxes, Etc. They will handle it all and ship FedEx and handle Customs paperwork properly.

Posted by
5697 posts

Hey, if you're going to ship stuff back anyway, the marginal cost of shipping an additional pair of shoes is likely small and worth it if it makes you feel more appropriately dressed for the business section of your trip.

Maybe you could run the shipping through your expense account the way you would if you had things cleaned and pressed for a big meeting ?

Posted by
737 posts

Just tried to ship back home mid-trip some clothing, etc to allow more room for purchases and FedEx was ridiculous..... I have an account and it was $300-$400 to ship from Paris to Tennessee. We even tried finding a UPS one morning to compare coats and never were able to locate it. A great idea to do but good luck making it happen! Maybe the post office would have been the best bet.

Posted by
2576 posts

Shipping international is crazy expensive but so is domestic these days. We had good luck with DHL years ago. Also, since you don’t need what you are shipping right away you may be able to save some money with the slow shipping options. Another option to consider would be to ship to your last hotel in Spain, ask them to hold it, repack and check it on the outbound flight.

Posted by
10126 posts

Jane I am shocked! We sent 6 litres of olive oil plus other items and it did not cost nearly so much thru MBE in Italy. I did learn during our int’l relocation that keeping weight under 10 kilos is crucial and also keeping box size as small as possible.

Posted by
1179 posts

If you were returning to Barcelona I would recommend storing the excess clothes at your hotel.

You could also use flat rate shipping and send your clothes to your final hotel in Spain. Arrange for a pickup there. That would be the cheaper option. You’d have to call your hotel and make arrangements. ~20€

The final option is to use flat rate shipping to your place in the states. Clothes are medium heavy so flat rate may or may not be the best value.

Correos International Shipping

Posted by
10 posts

Five pairs of shoes? Really? Hmmmmm.

But are five pairs of shoes really necessary? Are you intending to wear a different pair every day? Surely one suit would suffice (two at the most) with a change of shirt and tie for each day?
European's are beginning to dress less formally for work, particularly in the UK, but for the most part it's simply losing the tie.
*

I know it seems to some of you that 5 pairs of shoes is excessive. As I mentioned, I am on a business trip which includes a number of formal evening events. For daytime I will have a pair of heels and a pair of flats (as I will be in a conference center for long periods) for evening black tie events I will need a dressier pair of heels. I realize many men don't understand this issue, but, honestly, if you are wearing your daytime dress shoes to a black tie event in a tux, YOU are doing it wrong. ; ) The other two pairs are for leisure. If I was traveling for leisure I would have only two pairs. Walk a mile in my shoes and then you wouldn't be so quick to be critical. In regards to your suggestion of wearing the same suit for 5 days, well, I don't even know how to address that. Also, I don't wear ties.

Posted by
10 posts

Another option to consider would be to ship to your last hotel in Spain, ask them to hold it, repack and check it on the outbound flight.
Thanks, Alan. I hadn't thought of shipping within the country to my final hotel. that might be the answer rather than shipping internationally. Thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by
11458 posts

Last year I shipped a small bag back home with Send My Bag.

They picked it up at my hotel and it was there in a couple of days.

Posted by
1341 posts

3 pairs of shoes for a 5 day business event is reasonable to me. The length and cut of the pants, skirt or dress all affect the type of shoe you can wear. I can wear flats with a tapered leg, but not with a bootcut that would need a heel. Flats with a skirt would depend on the look I was going for. Then at night you may be walking to dinner, need a whole other pair of shoes for that. There is not one pair of my work shoes that I would ever use for long/cobblestone walking, except for maybe my boots.

Your getting lots of great suggestions!

Posted by
1179 posts

I could certainly see at least 4 pairs of shoes under the circumstance:

  • waking shoes
  • sandals/casual dress shoes
  • work heels
  • black tie heels

A true black tie affair would require dresses that are too fancy for the 12 day after trip
A true business trip requires a suit which is inappropriate for most women on the 12 day after trip (although it might be workable).

A lot of men don’t get the shoe issue. Different dress lengths mean different shoes. Different pant lengths mean different shoes.

Posted by
4724 posts

I've just realised I've made an assumption on your gender hence my initial disbelief at five pairs of shoes. Now that I've realised that you might be female I no longer have that sense of disbelief!

Posted by
1179 posts

A smart dress and cardigan is just as acceptable and you can wear the cardigan with other stuff.

I can think of several industries where this is grossly underdressed. A cardigan might be OK for a roll-up-your-sleeves working meeting with peers. It absolutely is not OK for a formal meeting.

I’m a big fan of a high end black suit coupled with other extenders. A pair of pants in the same material as the suit expands options. I love textured weave unlined jackets to make it look like I brought more suits. The textured weave is very wrinkle resistant and packs well. Knit blazers also work well.

Example
Example 2

I get the surprise that the traveling worker is a woman. It’s actually pretty distressing that after a half century of the women in work movement that we are still dealing with this.

Posted by
8864 posts

It always amuses me how often people have no idea that a woman might be on a business trip.

Well, until OP made the 6-7 2:28 post, there was no identification in the original post as to OP's gender. ('cclundgren' provides no such info)

Perhaps the statement 'at least 5 pair of shoes are needed' should have been the clue?

Anyway, I think the suggestion to ship the extra baggage to the last hotel and just take it home on the departure flight, seems like a good idea. In country shipping has to be simpler than international and cheaper.

Posted by
1179 posts

@Emma - A twin set is very casual compared to a suit. Especially so if the meeting is with senior level people that are all in suits.

Several industries require suits: finance, aerospace, high end real estate, government, diplomacy, law. A woman needs to dress equally to the man so she isn’t confused with the admins. A power player needs to look like a power player.

Posted by
10 posts

I appreciate all responses and my replies were all meant in good fun--there would be no way for you to know my gender.
Trust me, though, when doing business in the hospitality industry with execs from Rome, London, Milan, Paris, etc. there really is little room to 'dress down.' I find NYC and LA more lax but I find Chicago to be more buttoned up, so it's not just in Europe.

Posted by
4785 posts

Another vote for Mail Boxes, Etc.

In 2016, we shipped some winter clothing back home when my daughter finished her study abroad semester in the UK. The price, £80 for 7 Kilograms, was definitely worth it as we didn’t want to lug the extra weight around on our trip.

We also sent a small package back via the postal service, but the price from Mail Boxes, Etc. was better.

We considered sending via, “Send your Bag”, but didn’t want to wait around for the package to get picked up.

Enjoy your trip! 🌼

Edited to add...
If you plan to travel to Granada, don’t forget to book your Alhambra tickets 3 months in advance 😉

Posted by
4724 posts

Several industries require suits: finance, aerospace, high end real estate, government, diplomacy, law. A woman needs to dress equally to the man so she isn’t confused with the admins. A power player needs to look like a power player.

My wife is a senior contractor, working in various industries including finance, defence and commercial business. She leads entire teams but has no need or requirement to look like a "power player" and never wears a suit. Sometimes she'll even wear jeans, this isn't the 90's and what she wears bears no relevance to her competency. Her current employer, a global insurance company, has pretty much done away with dress codes.

Posted by
5697 posts

After working many years in financial services -- the "back office" people could be pretty grubby, the people with client contact (especially at the executive level) were expected to be in full business attire except when "casual" was explicitly designated ( i.e., when NO clients were scheduled)

Posted by
1179 posts

Laura that is my experience too. I could wear jeans to work on regular days. But when meeting with clients it was full suits. This was especially true for high level people.
It really depends on what levels you are meeting at. That’s especially true if it is VP or higher.

Posted by
3493 posts

Do what I do when I travel to Europe for a combo business vacation trip: have one of your co-workers take your business clothing back home with them. Pay the extra bag charge to your coworker, maybe take them out to lunch when you return as a thank you. This will be a lot quicker, more affordable than shipping, and less of a hassle for you. (I think someone else suggested this early in the comments as well.)

I am lucky that the company I work for has many offices in Europe where we work out of while there and if all else fails, I leave my suitcase containing all my work clothes in that office and simply pick it up next business trip. They have no issues keeping it in the janitor's closet or wherever. I get my left suits cleaned on re-arrival so I don't have to drag all that much with me on those trips.

On shoes. Yes, I am a man. Yes, I will never understand the need for so many shoes. I probably own not more than 5 pairs of shoes right now including my ski boots and flip flops, but not different pairs of dress shoes for day and evening wear. The one very nice custom made pair of black dress shoes I have works perfectly well with a tux for nightime formal events or a suit for the daytime work.