Friday, August 10, 2007


Yesterday Leiya and I decided that we needed to pack our stuff to see how much would fit in the suitcases and how much we'd need to be sending home by mail. Let me tell you folks, I won't be sending any more packages back to Japan and I advise the rest of you to think twice too if you live in the States!

Leiya and I made up a box each. I don't know what she had in her box but I think it was clothes and the blanket she'd made and her quilt. As for me, most of my box was made up of craft articles. Lots and lots of fabric that I got at fantastic prices and some new craft rulers, scissors, things to use with the English kids etc. Actually I was surprised at the weight of all of it together, but it wasn't outrageous.

We lugged our packages to the post office and I said I wanted to send my package to Japan. The post office man knows a little Japanese so the conversation went like this:

Post office man: "Konnichi wa!" (Hi!)

Me: "Konnichi wa!" (Same) "I want to send this package to Japan."

Post office man: "Oohhh. Takai." (Oh, very expensive.) "Hikouki" (Airplane)

Me, laughing: "Dame. Hikouki dame." (No way by air!)

Post office man: "No. We don't ship by surface any more. It's all airplane now."

Me: "WHAT!!!!! I've got to send this airmail!!! You're crazy! Find me some other way!"

Post office man: "That's the only way to do it now unless you want to go down to the docks and find some ship that will take it to Japan for you."

That exchange left me perspiring and my my head started aching when he quoted me a price of $75 to ship the box. To make a long story short, I paid the $75. The nice post office man tried to help me figure out a cheaper way, but dividing the contents into two boxes was going to cost the same and putting them in regulation boxes as $30 a piece (size of a tissue box) was still going to run it up because I'd need at least three.

A couple of years ago my luggage at the airport was overweight and I ended up paying an $80 fine so I've been careful not to have a repeat of that scene since then. I hate wondering at the Check-in counter whether I'm going to be charged extra for my baggage. A couple of days before leaving the States, (like about now) I start to get a little crazy. I pack and repack and drag suitcases on to the scales and move things around trying to stuff the heavier things into the carry-on. I regret all my shopping sprees and bewail about why oh why I bought so much stuff! It was so cheap in the stores but when I have to pay shipping or fines it all runs up to the same as Japanese prices! (Well, not absolutely true, but in fits of hair-pulling that's how I feel.) I have dreams of toodling off to the airplane pulling my cute compact carry-on bag behind me like a little square poodle. It's not going to happen in my lifetime!

Day after tomorrow you're going to find me wrestling with my two suitcases, two carry-on bags (one masquerading as my purse) my camera, a shopping bag or two, my shoulders hunched, my face red, dropping pens and passports and trying to remember to say goodbye to my family who is there thinking "Get on the plane lady! Why does she do this every year?"


Nancy said...

I had no ideas that surface mail to Japan is a thing of the past. Amazing. I wonder if there are other options, like UPS.

Our big suitcase was overweight when we left Greece and we had to pay $25. Since we were staying overnight in Atlanta, we spent some precious time rearranging our stuff, pulling the heavy pottery out of that suitcase and into my carry-on which I did not expect them to weigh. The carry-on was pretty heavy so we were confident we'd removed enough. But they still charged us $25 again to bring it from Atlanta to Phila. We are getting rid of that huge suitcase and getting a more compact model before we fly overseas again. AND we will take less stuff!

Quilt Pixie said...

It is so hard to move things from one country to another now... I know friends who came to visit and they brought VERY few clothes, (mostly empty suitcases) with the intention of filling them up for the return trip. It was still touch-n-go, and they ended up leaving some of the clothes they'd brought behind for next year's visit. Sigh.

Jan said...

My daughter lives in Japan so I'm well aware of the mailing expenses. Since she's been there several years now, I'm (almost) over the shock of it.
I'm laughing a little in recognition at your packing dilemna. Right now we're planning a trip to Japan and I'm thinking about a return day of Tuesday because if we're busy on the weekend, I don't want to have to pack on a Sunday night...might need that extra day to fit things in those suitcases to best advantage and decide what needs to be thrown overboard.

Katie said...

Oh my! Poor you. We found out about the no surface mail thing recently when sending packages to New Zealand.

meggie said...

Isnt it expensive! And they have you at their mercy, because you end up having to pay. I know those packing worries, & the excess payments. Good luck for your flight home.

Mary said...

I'm always overpacking and worried that I'm going to get to the scales and be overweight. So far it only happened once (in Hawaii and we were the people holding up the line while we rearranged a few things in our suitcases!).

Keith was giving me a hard time today about my backpack. I call it my activity bag and it has everything I need to entertain myself (well, no quilting or knitting) including the laptop and it's not light. Luckily, it's easy to carry on my back!

I hope you have a good trip home!

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

Aye chihuaua. I had no idea you couldn't do surface mail to Japan. I wonder what other places that has affected. Shoot. Hope the trip home goes smoothly.

Shelina said...

Wow, it certainly does get expensive! Maybe you can think about leaving some stuff there - give your toiletries and other heavy but inexpensive stuff as gifts to your family so you don't have to carry them. I'm sure it would be cheaper to rebuy them than to pay the extra for shipping.

But think about it this way - now your bags will be lighter and you won't have to lug that stuff all over the airport and worry about anyone telling you you are overweight!

Jane Weston said...

Oh I do sympathise with you. I would be facing the same dilemma if I was to travel from Canada. At least by sending it airmail you won't have long to wait for your goodies. My sister sent me a Christmas gift last year from Canada (surface mail) and it took 2 months to get to the UK. She was a bit surprised at that...but then again she didn't realise that they really put it on a boat!
Hope you have a safe journey!

Patricia said...

We had the same problem some days ago, when we left Los Angeles for Germany. Like you we packed our things early after a 4 week camping vacation and huge fabric and clothes shopping in our suitcases. We threw away our old tents and my sleeping bag lots of worn clothes and so on. We asked our airline for the fare for an additional suitcase, which was $100 for overseas and $ 50 for a domestic flight . We bought an additional suitcase and packed it full ( after buying a scale and weighting every suitcase). At the airport we only had one suitcase that was a little too heavy and put some heavy things in my big carry on suitcase. Unfortunately a bodywash and bodybutter was under these things and we had to throw them in the dumpster later.
For us it was worth the extra money because the fabrics in Germany are about $23 to $30 a yd. With my purchase of fabrics for as little as $ 1.69 / yd
the $ 100 doesn`t seamend to be so extraordinary.

I don´t know how heavy your parcel had been, we were allowed to put lb 50 in our suitcases.

I missed reading your blog for the last 4 weeks.
At Bellagio Las Vegas they had the song " Proud to be an American " with the fountains . You really could feel the national pride Americans must have. We Germans are more like the Japanese, perhaps because we lost the war.

We had also been to the beaches and saw the hundreds of tatoos and piercings. I´m glad you took pictures . I hadn't the courage to take pics.LOL
Have a save trip!