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Choosing Between Air and Sea When Shipping Your Furniture Abroad

The process of moving to another country can seem quite overwhelming at times. With so many options and choices to be made, you may be struggling to keep up and make the important decisions necessary.

The reality can quite quickly creep up on you, as to just how much “stuff” needs to now happen to achieve your outcome! What actually needs to be done varies depending on your chosen location, so the best thing you can do is take time to plan, research, and budget for each step.

Amongst the many actions on every soon-to-be expat’s “to do” list will no doubt be organizing how to get your belongings to your chosen destination.

One of the more confusing decisions expats must make is whether to ship their personal and household effects to their new home, via Sea or Air Freight. With such decisions

Both sea freight and air freight have a variety of differences and benefits, most significantly, the speed and the cost. After all, when moving abroad the costs can quickly rack up and the timescales can often be tight. As such, it can be useful for expats to understand the benefits of each method and how this fit in with your overall plans.  

To help you make the most informed choice and ensure your belongs are shipped to your new home safely, cost-effectively, and in the required timeframe, the benefits and differences of each option are outlined below.

Risk and Reliability

When it comes to shipping your items using sea freight, whilst it is quite reliable, you may find that due to the long and potentially unpredictable journey, the risk of damage occurring to your items increases when compared to the safer option that air freight offers.

Both forms of transportation can be affected by bad weather conditions and therefore delays can be incurred. However, the risk of this is considerably lower for air freight.

To ensure you can reduce your risk further still, when choosing your international freight forwarding company, inquire about insurance coverage for both options that will act as an additional safeguard for your own peace of mind.

Speed of Transport

This may seem like an obvious difference to point out and well, it is! The speed of sea transportation is indeed much lower when compared to shipping items internationally by air. It’s also not just by a small amount either, as it can be as much as 30 times faster! With sea freight forwarding, depending on the destination, you can expect for your items to be traveling anything from 2 weeks to around 2 months.

So, when comparing the speed for air v sea freight, air will always come out on top. However, this doesn’t always have to be an issue as long as you factor this into and around the other considerations for your move abroad. If time is of the essence, then it is a no-brainer to choose air shipping, but if your timescales allow, sea freight could still be a contender.

Cost and Budget

It won’t surprise you to know, that is significantly cheaper to ship your items by sea than by air. However, whilst this is true some of the time, it is also not always the case and very much depends on what you are specifically shipping.

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If you have a large and heavy volume of cargo, then shipping by sea is potentially your cheapest option due to the shipment being charged by volume, rather than by weight.

With a smaller shipment, the price gap lessens and, in some cases, it may well end up being less expensive to use air freight.

Whether shipping by air or by sea, you do need to allow budget for the destination and customs charges and it is worth noting that warehousing fees are less expensive at airports.

So, as a rule, if you need it quickly and it’s not a heavy and bulky shipment, air freight might be your best option – but if you have time to play with, have a tight budget, and it’s your entire home’s contents that needs to be shipped, you might be best choosing sea freight.

However, there is another option! Thankfully, most shipping companies also offer a combination of both sea and air, which can be really useful when you have a limited budget and timeframe. For example, you could ship your most essential and valuable items via air to arrive at the same time your move-in date and ship the remainder of your non-essential items separately, ahead of time via sea freight to arrive at a slightly later date.

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