Traveller essentials - what you can send and where
Travelling is one of life's greatest pleasures - the joy of experiencing other cultures, standing in the presence of iconic sights and discovering hidden gems is incomparable. Those that are fortunate enough to be on the road for extended periods will understand this well - having the freedom to travel is an enviable luxury.
However, there are downsides, believe it or not. There may come a time when you realise you forgot to bring that essential item and although there may be shops around you, as many a backpacker will attest, the funds to buy a replacement may not be available. What do you do? Get someone to post it to you, of course! Here's the low down on what you can have sent to you:
Sounds stupid, but sometimes you can't be without a favourite food for too long. 'Proper' chocolate, if you're staying in the US, for example or Marmite when you are in Australia (Vegemite? Pah!). However, there are rules about posting food items and they vary as per country. A general one that transcends border control, though is this: anything that is deemed perishable and may go off while in transit is a big no no. No fresh fruit or veg, no dairy and definitely no meat. Foods should have a 'best before' date of at least six months. Items that are store bought and packaged tend to be acceptable, providing they remain in their original packaging.
Prescription medicines are understandably subject to restrictions, to ensure that they are used properly and safely. They generally need to be sent by, or at the request of, a qualified doctor or nurse. In some cases, therefore, it might be easier to go to the local doctor or chemist to obtain a prescription. Should medicines from home be the only option, you may need to obtain an export licence from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA), so check first to avoid having the parcel seized. If you are really lost, ask your parcel delivery service for guidance.
Another frequently forgotten item is contact lenses. These can be difficult to post as they contain liquid, but posting a pair of glasses won't be a problem, providing the recipient won't mind sporting their specs instead. The alternative is for sender to post a copy of the recipient's prescription, so that they may buy the right lenses in the host country.
In these days of internet banking, there shouldn't be much need for posting money abroad. However, there may be circumstances which do necessitate the sending of physical notes (never coins) and in which case, it's best to make sure the parcel is securely packaged and signed for upon delivery and receipt.
Some countries will not accept cash though. These include Australia, China, France, India, Jamaica and New Zealand - to name but a few. As such, it's key to do some research, otherwise you may lose your money all together. Again, your courier firm will be able to advise you.
How can you send items?
Sending items to friends or family when they are travelling is no mean feat - many people don't know where they will physically be on a given date and even if they do, is it possible / safe to send parcels to a backpacker's hostel in the middle of the outback?
One function you may be able to make use of is 'Poste Restante' - a service offered by local post offices whereby they receive and hold mail items for you. This is handy, as you can ask a courier to deliver to this address without issue; you can then pick up the item at your leisure. Typically you'll have to register for the service, but it's generally free of charge and senders can feel confident that their package will be safely dispatched into the right hands.