If lugging those golf clubs or snowboards through the airport is just more than you can take on your next vacation, consider shipping your bags ahead.

A number of delivery services — which contract with the major freight carriers like UPS (UPS), FedEx (FDX) and DHL — will pick up your luggage at your home and deliver it to your destination, even overseas.

That will put at ease the minds of travelers tired of waiting for bags misplaced by the airlines.

Shipping ahead may be a special benefit for business travelers who can't run out and buy two new suits when theirs don't arrive in time for the big meeting or families that travel with four pairs of boots and skis.

Generally, the services allow you to book online or over the phone and someone will arrive at your home or office to pick up your bags. Most companies offer a choice of overnight or economy service; the latter can save you a bunch of money if you don't mind waiting a few days for those skis to return from the mountains.

Sports Express lets you book months, or hours, in advance and will even have your skis waxed and waiting for you when you arrive. If your bags are late, another service, Luggage Forward, will give you a full refund and up to $200 a day to cover expenses.

The only drawback — and probably a good reason why luggage service is popular mainly with business travelers — is the price. To ship two pairs of skis economy from New York to Vail, Colo., and back would cost $165 with Luggage Express, $260 with Sports Express and $404 with Luggage Forward. If you wanted to send a medium-size bag and a set of golf clubs overnight from the Big Apple to Orlando and back, the same companies would charge $305, $445 and $684, respectively.

Of course, you can always lug that stuff on the plane or ship it yourself with any of the major freight carriers, which may or may not cost you less.

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