The amount of money your au pair has saved and the amount of stuff she needs to get back home are inversely proportional. That’s a problem, because if she wants to take that stuff home, it’s gonna cost some money.
How can your au pair get that extra stuff home as inexpensively as possible?
One of our readers suggested:
Regarding shipping to Germany, there are something called “M-bags” that are strictly for paper/books shipped via USPS. The M-bags can help to reduce the weight in the luggage because many AP’s have books from college etc. However, USPS is quite restrictive on what to ship so the box needs to be open when you drop it off at the post office (so that they can check). It’s likely that the clerk doesn’t know about M-Bags. But they do exist! (note: check the USPS website.)
Another suggestion? If you have some connection to US Army personnel, you can ship boxes to that person on his or her base in Germany and then arrange to pick the boxes up at the base. The cost to send something to a member of the armed forces stationed overseas is less than the basic rate. (editor’s note: please verify this before you implement this strategy.)
FexEx and DHL are expensive options. Also, paying the cost for an additional bag on the airplane is also expensive.
Nearly every AP ends up with a lot of stuff she can’t fit into her bags. Thus, the question of how to send it home cheaply gets asked of almost every host parent (like the host mom has ever shipped 32 pairs of shoes to Estonia?).
Well, let’s just say that if would be a great help if an industrious LCC would put together a list of shipping options that all Au Pairs could consult. [(I always look to the LCC when there are questions that get repeated by each and every au pair in the cluster. When it comes to questions about the education requirement, ESL classes, driver’s licenses, etc., having an LCC who is on the ball can save every host parent from doing duplicate work. Theme for another post…)]
Some other ideas for helping your au pair with this problem?
— Suggest that your au pair hold a sale. She can invite other au pairs to buy her stuff from her. (Selling at a consignment store usually takes too much time). Maybe she can tag along on a neighbor’s garage sale
— Suggest that your au pair donate the stuff to goodwill. Knowing that the stuff will go to people in need might make it easier to part with.
However, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you permit your au pair to leave packed or unpacked boxes of stuff with you for you to send on later. It will turn into a dreaded chore that hangs on to your To Do list for months, and then when/if you finally do it, it will coast 3x more than what she thought, you won’t get reimbursed, and you’ll be responsible if something is lost, broken or stolen. Don’t do it.
And if you are even imagining that you might do this as a gift for your departing au pair because you love her and will really miss her, let me put you in touch with my host mom friend Margaret. She can send you a photo from her iPhone of the pile of stuff in her laundry room that she is supposed to be sending to Norway. Someday. Right.
If anyone knows of other cheap and safe ways that the Au Pair can send her stuff home– do tell!