The most important thing when shipping fragile items is to properly package your items so that they don’t break in transit.
- Always wrap fragile item(s) with bubble wrap or other packaging material.
- Place wrapped items into a box and make sure they do not have room to move around in the box.
- If shipping multiple fragile items, make sure each item is wrapped in enough packing material not to touch any other fragile item in the box.
- Take advantage of double boxing. Once you’ve put your wrapped items in one box, wrap that entire, inner box and stick it into another, outer box. Use enough packing material around the inner box, so that it does not move around in the outer box.
- You may consider marking “Fragile” on the box but know that those instructions are generally ignored by package handlers.
- If you ship a lot of fragile items, save packing materials from other packages or even ask folks in your community (Buy Nothing groups, neighborhood list-serves) for their extras.
- Fragile items generally do not need to be packed cold or disclosed. But, aim to make sure your items will arrive to their destination in a timely fashion. During summer or climates that are consistently hot, it may be best to pack items cold. See “Shipping Items Cold” section below for tips.
Buying postage is fairly straightforward but there are a few tricks and tips that are helpful. Generally, I would recommend the USPS for shipping fragile items.
- Priority Mail is the way to go. It takes 1-3 days to arrive to a destination within the continental U.S. It is more expensive the further away you are from the destination and the more your package weighs.
- Priority Mail is a better offering for shipping low weight fragile items versus First Class and Flat Rate. First Class takes much longer to get to the destination and Flat Rate will be more expensive.
- You can order supplies, such as boxes, to be used with Priority Mail on the USPS website for FREE. Note, that these supplies can only be used with Priority Mail offerings.
- Postage can be purchased on the USPS website using “Click & Ship.” However, you need to know the weight of the package you are shipping. This can be found using a postage scale or food scale. You also need access to a printer in order to print the label.
- If you have a designated place where mail can be picked up and use Click & Ship, you can schedule a USPS Pickup for free with your regular mail delivery. This means you may not have to go to the post office at all.
- Shipping costs round up to the nearest pound. The price difference between 2.01 pounds and 2.99 pounds is the same — so if you’ve crossed the pound mark already, might as well add extra packaging.
- You need to know a person’s name and address in order to ship them an item.
- If you do have to go to a Post Office, consider if there are any Approved Postal Providers in your area who deal with USPS shipping. This can be helpful if it is hard to make it to a regular Post Office during business hours.
- It is okay to ask recipients of your items to cover shipping costs. Also, consider reaching out to members of the community (and, me!) to help cover shipping costs.
Shipping Items Cold
In the summer or where climates are consistently hot, it may be best to pack and ship items cold.
- Shipping items cold is allowable under the USPS. Make sure your package is leak-proof and can withstand liquid condensation.
- Save supplies when receiving orders that have been shipped cold to you. Styrofoam coolers, cold packs, insulated bags and freezer packs can all be reused.
- Small, insulated bags and lunch boxes can be purchased for less than $10. Reptile shippers are another economical option if shipping fragile items frequently. However, you will want to cover up any mention of live reptiles if using as an outer box. Both of these options can be packed with a freezer pack treated as an “inner box” when double boxing.
- Reusable ice sheets are a great option if you are planning to ship fragile items often. A few cubes from the ice sheet can be taken off, packed with the fragile item and wrapped to ensure no leakages.