Business / Economy

COMMENTARY: How to Take a First-Class European Vacation for Free

Don’t mail it, take your envelopes to Amsterdam

My wife was mailing six printed pages in plastic sleeves weighing a total of 7 ounces to relatives in the Netherlands, so she checked the price on the handy-dandy United States Postal Service website for Priority Mail six to 10 business days, not exactly overnight. The cost was a staggering $32.95.

The package size was 9.5 by 12 inches and a quarter-inch thick. Naturally, we selected a cheaper option, but it occurred to me that if you could only find a few hundred people with similar packages you could take a first-class European vacation for free.

A first-class round trip airline ticket from SFO to Amsterdam will set you back under $9,600 and you would, typically, be entitled to three checked bags weighing 70 pounds apiece (first-class, remember?).

If you stuff your checked suitcases with packages similar to ours they would hold 480, the weight being the limiting factor, you can use your carry-on for clothing and personal items. Charging the USPS rate you would take in $15,816. When you arrived it would cost about $1,500 to mail the packages locally; you’re on vacation so there is no time for all those individual deliveries 

That would leave you about $5,000 to get a top-notch hotel for a couple of nights, pick up some extra clothes and paint the town red.

But who wants to take a fist-class European vacation alone? If you do the same deal but charge the hundred-buck commercial package rate instead you could take your wife and one of your kids along, too.

This leaves only one question.  What’s the deal with all the two-dollar stuff on eBay that comes straight from China with free shipping – do you think those items are delivered by people taking vacations to the U.S.?

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Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.