Remember a couple months ago when we were going through the great weight debate, trying to figure out what to ship overseas and how to maximize the weight requirements to get the most bang for our buck? Well, we sent off our boxes in full glory, packed to the rim with gifts, cards and care package goodies of those things our kids love most from American but can’t get in their home countries.

We sent the box through the USPS to Czech Republic in the second week of October. Alexandra’s birthday was at the end of October, so we wanted to make sure she got her gift in time, but we also included presents for Christmas and Names Day, a Slovakian holiday tradition. Her birthday came and went, but we knew the box would arrive any day, so we didn’t sweat it. Then mid-November came and went, and now we’ve reached December. It’s been more than eight weeks since the box left my hands, and it still hasn’t arrived at our girl’s college in Czech Republic.

The box sent to Denmark went out the door during the second to last week of October (around Alex’s birthday) as the most time-sensitive things in the box were the Christmas gifts so there was no immediate rush. It arrived at its intended destination toward the end of the first week of November, so it took about two weeks to go doorstep to doorstep. If this one already reached its home, then I’m pretty certain the other one should have as well.

We’ve pretty much given up on the Czech Republic box ever getting to where it needs to go, but I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity to learn so I don’t make the same mistake again. Here are some things I’m taking away from this situation:

> Despite the fact the USPS says that a box will ship and arrive at its destination within a certain number of days, that is no guarantee. Things get caught up in customs or otherwise delayed on the other end, and that’s completely out of the postal service’s hands.

> Regardless of how much you pay (in this case, it cost almost $80 to ship), a box can still get lost. I didn’t put any insurance on the box, but even if I had, it wouldn’t really matter. Sure, I would have recouped the actual value of the commercial items in the box, but the truth is that some of the items in the box were personal, handmade and irreplaceable. If you can’t replace it, don’t ship it.

> When you send a flat-rate box, you get a tracking code. Well, we stupidly tossed ours before the box arrived (obviously) because I stupidly made the assumption the box would just reach its destination. When I inquired about the box at the post office, I was told that the tracking information would tell me where the box was, but they couldn’t actually do anything even if I knew where it was. It could be stuck in customs or sitting anywhere in a truck and we’d know that much, but that’s all a tracking code does for you.

> Rumor has it that the box could be returned to us if it is deemed undeliverable. We shall see if said box returns to our mailbox someday. This could happen, as my in-laws had a box they sent to us in Kenya returned to them more than a year after the fact. Methinks the chocolate chip cookies in the box would be stale by then.

Have you ever had a box like this lost in the mail? What do you do now to ensure it reaches its intended destination?

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