I met the founder of PiggyBee in Brussels! I don’t get much credit for this meetup. I actually forgot he lives in Belgium. But, as I do with all my trips, for a recent trip to Europe I listed my origin and destinations on a few crowdsourced delivery networks. I have some favorites that get more traffic than the rest. And of course I use the ones that focus on a specific route (i.e. U.S. to Egypt – Zaagel or U.S. to Buenos Aires – Entrusters) when relevant. For travel to Europe I often get requests from PiggyBee, one of the oldest social shipping networks.
When David saw I had listed a trip that included a stop in Brussels he reached out to suggest we meet in person. We’ve met on skype, when I interviewed him a few years ago. And we stay in touch about the latest developments in social shipping, and with PiggyBee as a company.
I really like the concept of crowdsourced delivery. You can make money by using empty space in your luggage to bring people stuff they want. It still hasn’t caught on enough for there to be big demand. But on many trips I do get requests to carry things people can’t find elsewhere, or that are much cheaper in the U.S. I’ve delivered some interesting things with PiggyBee over the past few years. First was a pair of Vibram running shoes, followed by a water bottle, a game, and a backpack, among other things.
While in Belgium I got two requests to bring things back to the U.S. Perhaps not surprising: both were for beer. One man wanted me to carry 6 large bottles of Cantillon beer back in my luggage. I don’t generally check a suitcase, but I’m happy to do it for a delivery request. However, this one happened to be early in a trip that involved a lot of train rides and short flights before my flight home. I declined the request because lugging around an extra suitcase for the rest of my trip seemed not at all fun.
The second beer request came from a woman who wanted beer from the same Brussels brewery: Cantillon. She asked me to buy it and then ship it to her from Brussels. This was far easier for me so I was game. Unfortunately they didn’t have the release of the new batch of beer before I left town so I couldn’t fulfill her request.
These requests brought to my attention a lambic brewery that I decided I should visit. Even though neither delivery worked out, I really enjoyed my tour and tasting at Cantillon. As you might guess, it’s hard to find their beer in the U.S. But it’s quite reasonably priced at the brewery. So if you take a trip to Brussels consider bringing an extra suitcase to carry home some Cantillon for yourself, or for PiggyBee requests.
In the end I did fulfill a request to carry something back to the U.S. from Brussels. It was an old request David himself had created, to carry an advertising plaque promoting PiggyBee. I noticed the request on the website, and asked if he wanted me to take it. I think this plaque will be visiting other countries in the future!
Brussels is an lovely town with beautiful architecture and delicious chocolate and beer. But my favorite part of my visit to the city involved the tip about the brewery from the PiggyBee requests, and hanging out with locals (David and his wife) seeing, eating and learning stuff I wouldn’t have found alone.