Saturday, April 12, 2014

Голова, встречаются стол

My last post was all about the difficulties of moving to Russia - and it is, indeed, an enormous undertaking. However, I assumed leaving Russia would be a breeze. Throw some stuff in a suitcase, get on the plane, arrive in your homeland and cry when you see a Tim Horton's sign. Easy. And it probably would have been. But you know me - I like to make things complicated. I decided that since I was in Europe anyway, I might as well cross a few items off my bucket list. The result is a planned trip to the Nordic countries and Germany, starting in St. Petersburg and going though Finland and Scandinavia, stopping in Berlin before a brief sojourn in Iceland. Because I'm moving around so much, this is going to be a complicated endeavor, but it's a longtime dream. I'm excited.

The issue isn't so much booking hostels and choosing things to see - that stuff is easy and fun. It's all about tying up loose ends in Russia (let's just ignore for a moment that the Ukraine crisis could unravel all my plans in an instant). First, I need to get an actual date of departure from my work, which in Russia is a bit of an uphill path. I might have to sell my soul, is all I'm saying. Then I need to get my rail pass through the mail, and anyone who's familiar with Russian Post is wincing already. Just picture everything you've done to prepare for a trip as ten times more complicated and you've got an idea. The biggest puzzle, though? Definitely the suitcase.

Since I've been living in Russia for almost a year, I've got quite a bit of stuff. Even after paring it down to the essentials, I don't want to leave my beautiful big suitcase here - and it's too bulky to haul around the fjords. I have to get it to Canada (BC would be preferable, but Toronto is okay) from Russia without breaking the bank and without losing the suitcase. You'd think this would be simple, but once again - Russia. Almost no company deals with them, and the added regulations make it ridiculously pricey.

Right now, I'm torn between several options. So I'm going to crowdsource this. I'm sure there are expats out there who've had to ship large items before. So, guys, should I:

  • Ship it via an airline, like Transaero or Aeroflot, as cargo?
  • Go with one of the few private luggage services (and sell a kidney to do so)?
  • Use something like FedEx or UPS (again, kidney)?
  • Stick with good old Russian Post, which is about as reliable as a fidelity pledge from Don Draper?
If you have any personal experiences, please tell me what you did and how well it worked - a ballpark cost would also be very helpful. Thanks for any advice you've got!

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