Silly me for thinking I was an expert traveler all these years as I flew all over the world on my own for work.
Sure, I had my loyalty plans all lined up earning maximum miles, plus my Global Entry and TSA-Pre number for expedited security screening.
But turns out, you're hardly an expert traveler until you're navigating airports on connecting flights with an infant and spouse.
That's what I've learned in the few trips we've taken as a family with our new daughter. The luggage and logistics seem to multiply on every trip.
For our latest family vacation, our first as a party of three that would extend beyond a week, we were heading to several destinations within remote Northern Michigan. In the back of my mind, I had hopes of sneaking in a few rounds of golf considering this is one of my favorite places in the world to play. We'd be staying in three separate locations, including Mackinac Island, which is famously car-free (that goes for taxis, buses, anything) that certainly has its own logistical hurdles.
As we prepared for our trip, it became apparent that our amount of luggage had outnumbered the hands my wife and I had. What were the options?
I decided to enlist the help of Ship Sticks to deliver not only my golf bag but our largest piece of checked baggage full of my clothes and some baby items that we would have otherwise checked at the counter.
(This isn't the first time I've used Ship Sticks. A couple years ago, I used them on a trip that combined golf with a Las Vegas bachelor party . Ultimately it was a wise decision because a computer outage at Las Vegas McCarran had caused lines for checking bags to swell over two hours, and I would have missed my flight had I not sent them home early. Talk about luck.)
A couple days prior to our departure date, I packed up my golf bag (and stuffed my suit bag in there too - The Grand Hotel requires men wear suits after 6pm), as well as all my clothes for my trip. Packing for Michigan in May is tricky, because the weather could be anywhere from 40-80 degrees, and traveling for 9 days almost assures a rainy day or two, to boot.
Ship Sticks uses the power of bulk purchasing to make shipping companies bid for their business. The result is prices are generally far lower than going to direct to UPS or FedEx. Additionally, customer service at ShipSticks is at a far more personal level than the big carriers, and it's easy to email/call/tweet for questions or update your drop-off and pick-up location/dates. You, however, receive an automatic notification that your bags have arrived, and I was pleased to see an email alerting me that my bags had arrived at The Grand before we did. When we arrived in the room, all of our bags, including those we brought with us on the ferry, were there in one piece. The long journey was over and it was finally time for dad to relax.
On departure day, I left my golf clubs and luggage at Bay Harbor Golf Club and we were one again traveling lighter back home to Texas. A couple days later, my bags arrived at the front door.
With Ship Sticks, you can send bags overnight (which has its cost, of course), but ground shipments domestically are as low as $39. We were flying an airline that charged for bags ($25 for the first). So Ship Sticks may cost a little more at first, but keep in mind you don't have to sign a waiver for the clubs like you do at the airline check-in counter, and shipping comes with a $1,000 insurance included and can be upgraded up to $3,500.
Also, the cars we took too and from the airport were mid-sized, and we would have had to book a larger car if we had our two largest bags with us. And as many golf travelers know, whenever you have a connecting flight onto a full, smaller plane, golf bags have a tendency to not make it on board.
But frankly it was traveling with less in tow that is the true value of shipping luggage. The simple fact of the matter is that if I had to carry the burden of bringing my clubs along, I probably would have concluded they weren't worth the bother and would have ended up skipping golf all together on vacation. But alas, there's no greater travel sin than packing something for a trip and not using it.
Our travel ultimately went about as well as we could ask for, and dad even managed to get in 36 holes, a feat that I'm learning fast is quite an accomplishment on its own.
Video: Colin Montgomerie on shipping your golf clubs with Ship Sticks
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