After nearly 2 years of long distance dating and in the midst of a second deployment, I’d like to think that I’m a Care Package Queen. But that title didn’t come easy. In my time as a Navy girlfriend, I have learned quite a bit through good ol’ trial and error. Here are the fails I’m ashamed to admit I made, but happy to tell you how to avoid…
Fail #1: Melting Contents
Of course there’s always the advice not to send chocolate, but in one of my first care packages to my Love, that’s exactly what I sent. I mean what else could I send around Easter time? So my Love received a bag full of Easter eggs covered in a brown liquid… nice picture I know.
How to avoid this: Just as so many before me, I’ll also advise you not to send chocolate or anything else that might melt (starbursts, caramel, suckers, waxes, cosmetics, etc.). Even if it’s Easter time. Especially if your package has to go anywhere remotely close to the Equator. If your package isn’t going near the Equator, I still recommend avoiding items that might melt because along the way, your package might end up in a heated vehicle regardless of geographic location. Just spare your loved one the mess made with good intentions.
Fail #2: Tracking Like Crazy
I’ll admit I’m that person. If I send anything, I track it using the online tools meant to do so. The first deployment my Love and I experienced, I sent him a 4th of July care package. As soon as it was out of my hands, I tracked it. A few days of this obsessive tracking went by only to find that my package was somehow stuck in Chicago. After a little research, I realized that once a package is in the Military’s hands, tracking stops. Obviously this makes sense for location and OPSEC reasons, but it’s a good little fact that I learned the hard way.
How to avoid this: Trust the system! It all works out. You won’t be able to see when or if your package was delivered. Just ask your loved one if they received it yet, and remind them to keep an eye out for it if they haven’t.
Fail #3: Paying Too Much
After forking out $30+ on shipping alone, I knew there had to be a cheaper way to ship packages overseas. Turns out, there is!
How to avoid this: Befriend your mailman! After seeing me twice my postal worker felt bad having to charge me an arm and a leg, so he gave me a ton of priority mail boxes specifically meant for APO/FPO addresses! They cost a little over $16 to ship, that’s half of what I was paying! Better yet, I found out that you can order these boxes right from the USPS website, and they will be delivered right to your doorstep. You can order packs of 10 or 25 boxes, and oh yeah, they’re completely free! Here’s the link to order your own!
Fail #4: Submitting the Incorrect Customs Form
There are always new customs forms being made, so I never know what one to use or which one is better. My poor mailman had a hard time using a newer form because it didn’t have a barcode and the computer was asking him for one when he wanted the computer to give him one… it was a confusing mess. He eventually figured it out, but I felt bad giving him the hassle.
How to avoid this: Create your customs form online! Here you can create a customs form for your package and just print it out at home. Doing this ensures that you’ll have the correct one for the mailman -making his job easier!
I hope this helps you all avoid these newbie mistakes that I have unfortunately made. If you have learned any other care package lessons the hard way, feel free to share in the comments!