Sending Your Gifts Abroad – Behind The Magic Curtain

Posted at Monday, September 24, 2012
A friend of mine works for a large international courier company and likes to tell a story that illustrates how some people misunderstand the way global delivery networks operate. In his story a lady is sending a gift to her grandson in China; when he arrives to collect, she asks “How long is it going to take you to get there?” His answer? “Not as long as you might think.”

His point, I suppose, is that he won't be travelling all the way himself which means the package is able to travel much of the way a lot faster than he can personally.

Now, not everyone thinks intentional deliveries work this way, but it's a story he has a new version of every few months. It represents the most obvious of the many misconceptions people can hold about sending gifts abroad using worldwide parcel services. Understanding a few of the basics can help us in a variety of ways so here's a look at what really happens when you arrange an air express delivery:

  • Your local depot collects the parcel
  • From the local depot it will be transported to a local hub and gathered with that day's other international parcels
  • That day's international parcels are then flown to a regional hub; in Europe this would be in a centrally located country like Germany
  • Once at the appropriate regional hub all international parcels are sorted into groups according to their destination
  • Having been sorted the new parcel groups are then flown to a local hub in their destination country
  • The local hub then separates the consignment into smaller groups for transport to various local depots around that country
  • Your parcel is finally handed to a driver at the beginning of the day for delivery

As you can see, your parcel can be handled by more than a few people during its journey and, while the best international carriers go to great lengths to ensure safe and reliable transport, there's still room for error. If your parcel is in any way fragile, then packaging it correctly can save a lot of hassle further down the line.

The more your parcel is handled along the way the more chance there is that it will be damaged in some way before arriving. Additionally, if your goods are valuable then selecting an international courier that offers extra insurance and pro-active tracking can really pay dividends.

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