The suitcase from Europe to California

The suitcase is a very important part of the move to the USA. Depending on where you are in Europe, you’ll have the option of using one or another airline. I was in Munich and I flew with Lufthansa (a direct flight of 12 hours to San Francisco). As most airlines Lufthansa has very strict baggage rules, for example:

  • NUMBER OF BAGS: in Economy you can check in ONE piece of luggage and take ONE carry-on bag with you. If you are a Lufthansa Frequent Traveler, then you get to check in a SECOND bag for free.
  • WEIGHT LIMIT: Regardless of the flight class, your suitcase won’t be checked in if it’s heavier than 32 kilos. Up to 23 kilos is free, over 23 you may need to pay excess baggage fees (depending on the class).
  • SIZE LIMIT: Up to 158cm (total dimensions: length + width + heigh) is free, as of 159 cm you may need to pay excess baggage fees (depending on the class).

The excess baggage fees differ from class to class and are different depending on what excess you have (weight or size or both) but as an estimation it can cost you between $175 to $350.

I spent a day planning my suitcase. The container with all my home content won’t arrive in San Francisco until mid December and this doesn’t mean that it will clear customs right away. The US customs are unpredictable so it might take extra weeks before my container is delivered to me. As a consequence, just in case, I packed for two months.

The HAND LUGGAGE can’t be larger than 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm and can’t be heavier than 8 kilos. You can take liquids with you following the same rules that you do when you travel across Europe (liquids in max 100ml containers, all packed in a resealable plastic bag, that is max 1L). For more info.

Luckily for me (and for those of you who are also moving to the US) if I make a mistake and forget to pack something (i.e. clothes, house pharmacy, cables, toiletries), I will be able to buy it for probably half the price I would in Europe. Most Europeans that we have talked to and that have recently moved to the US claim that outside housing and groceries, the rest is far cheaper than in Europe.

As a final note I would like to make a mention about the Customs Declaration Form that you need to fill in if you are entering the USA (no matter if you are a tourist, a visa-holder or a US-citizen). In this form you will be asked if you are bringing with you a list of products that are FORBIDDEN (i.e. fruits, plants, food, insects, meat).

How much luggage did you take with you when you moved?

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