10 Helpful Balikbayan Box Tips: Packing, Preparing and Sending

Are you looking for Balikbayan box tips to securely and reliably send your box to the Philippines? I have been an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and Immigrant here in the United Kingdom for more than a decade now. I have sent a few Balikbayan boxes to my family and charities in the Philippines over the years. 

I understand that sending a Balikbayan box is tiring, expensive and yet fulfilling for an OFW, that wishes to extend their love for their families in the Philippines via sending a big goodie box. So you wanted it to be safe and secured during the transit from the origin country to the Philippines. 

Let me share with you some Balikbayan box tips on packing, preparing and sending the box to the Philippines that I have personally done. If you are also wondering about How To Send Balikbayan Box to the Philippines, I have made another article about it that you can read on.

Balikbayan Box Tips in Packing, Preparing and Sending

How to label the Balikbayan box?

In labelling the Balikbayan box, I always use a PERMANENT MARKER pen. This is to ensure that it will not get erased or smeared during transit. Write legibly, in ALL CAPS and in print/block script. Avoid writing in cursive to make sure that your handwriting would be easily read, seen and understood by the cargo staff.

how to label the balikbayan box
Balikbayan box tips: How to label the balikbayan box

If you wish to use a printed label, use and put it in a poly pocket to ensure that it won’t get wet and smeared during transit. Then attach the poly pocket with the label onto your balikbayan box.

LBC Balikbayan Box to the Philippines
Balikbayan Box tips: LBC Balikbayan Box to the Philippines

How to wrap and tape the Balikbayan box for shipping?

I mainly use packing tape (parcel tape or Box-sealing tape), heavy-duty duct tape and the FRAGILE tape whenever I wrap and seal my Balikbayan boxes for shipping. I use packing tape to securely close the bottom part of the box, overlapping the packing tape onto each other, covering both vertical (1s layer) and horizontal (2nd layer) directions. 

how to wrap balikbayan box
Balikbayan box tips: How to wrap the balikbayan box

Once the packing tape is done, I use the duct tape to cover the two layers of the packing tape that I initially put as well as the stapled connecting part of the balikbayan box on the side. Then I use the FRAGILE tape, mainly to use it as a FRAGILE WARNING note on every side of the box.

How to choose a Balikbayan Box company?

Choosing a reliable and trustworthy Balikbayan box company is very important in ensuring that your box will reach your family intact and secured. You need to make some good research and compare the prices of the different boxes and their destination.

Ask around the Filipino communities about which balikbayan companies are recommended for their efficient and reliable service. I personally used the LBC Balikbayan box and Forex Cargo.

LBC Express – United Kingdom
Address: Unit 9, Victoria Industrial Estate, Victoria Rd, North Acton, London W3 6UU
Contact Number: +44 207 373 2331
Email: customercare@lbcexpress.com

Forex Cargo
Address:  7, Alpha Estate, Clayton Rd, Hayes UB3 1BB
Contact Number: +44 20 8813 7064

What can I put in my Balikbayan box?

I have listed down some of the favourite items that OFWs / Immigrants typically put in their Balikbayan box.  I would also like to give some packing tips on how you can securely send these items in your Balikbayan box.

how to prepare balikbayan box
Balikbayan Box Tips: How to Prepare a Balikbayan box

These handy Balikbayan box tips that I will share with you are mostly from my years of experience in sending Balikbayan boxes to my family in the Philippines.

Money

As a rule of thumb, NEVER put money in your balikbayan box. Thus, this will make things simpler and less hassle for you as the sender and for the receiver of the balikbayan box. It is always best to send money via remittance agencies, money transfer apps, or banks.

However, there are still some instances that some Filipinos still send small notes (e.g. £5 notes, £10 notes or £20 notes) inside the box, typically hidden in the most obscured places or within the items that they are sending.  This is mainly like a novelty touch as a small monetary remembrance.

Shoes

Most Filipinos adored shoes as a “Pasalubong” from their Balikbayan box. Having expensive branded and imported shoes tend to have a status symbol in modern Filipino society.

To maximise the space inside the Balikbayan box, I tend to tie the shoes together with elastic bands or shoelaces. In this method, they are paired together and won’t get misplaced.  If the shoes are made from a delicate material or would love to keep them in their original shape during transit, I keep them in their original box.

Then I usually put small items inside the shoe box as well as inside the shoes so I can maximise the precious space inside the Balikbayan box. This is one of my handy Balikbayan box tips!

Chocolates and Biscuits

When sending chocolates and biscuits inside the balikbayan box, I use a shoe box to keep it protected and prevent them from getting squashed during transit inside the Balikbayan box.  If I bought the chocolates and biscuits wholesale, it usually comes in their original boxes, so I keep them that way. 

You must need to remember that due to the months of travel that your balikbayan box will endeavour, the chocolates and the creams of the biscuits will most likely be melted. So to ensure that you would not encounter any leakages inside your Balikbayan box, wrap the box of chocolates and biscuits with a cling wrap. Another favourite Balikbayan box tip in packing perishable items.

Cell phones, laptops, gadgets and electronic devices

It is strongly advisable not to send any cell phones (mobile phones), laptops, gadgets and other electronic devices in the Balikbayan box. This is mainly due to the batteries of these items. The batteries of these items are a fire and explosion risk, hence it is strongly advisable not to send any cell phones (mobile phones), laptops, gadgets and other electronic devices in a Balikbayan box.

I usually just carry these items as handy carry items when I go back home to the Philippines instead.  Alternatively, I just send money to the Philippines so they can buy it from there locally.

Anyway, another risk of sending imported electrical gadgets like cell phones (mobile phones), laptops, gadgets and other electronic devices is the risk of incompatible electrical voltage and plug pins.  So you would still need to source an electrical alternator or travel adaptor.

Clothes

Clothing is a very common item that Filipinos send through their Balikbayan box.  Whenever I’m sending clothes in my box, one of the handy Balikbayan box tips that I can give is to use these pieces of clothes as a gap filler, cushions at the bottom of the box, or as an extra layer of protector for the fragile items.

You can lay it flat, roll it or fold it as long as it will fit in the gap between the items. If the clothing is White or light coloured, I also wrap it with a cling film to prevent it from getting dirty or stained during transit.

Soft Toys and Clothes Vacuum zip bag
Balikbayan box tips: For Soft Toys and Clothes use a vacuum zip bag

Alternatively, I usually put the fluffy clothes like jackets, coats and sweaters inside an extra-large vacuum zip-lock organisational bag. This is one of my space-saving Balikbayan box tips!

Perfume

As a rule of thumb, never send an aerosol type of perfume or aftershaves in your Balikbayan box because this is flammable and has a risk of explosion during transit.

I have sent perfumes in a bottle in my Balikbayan boxes a couple of times. Here are some handy Balikbayan box tips on how you can ensure that the perfume bottles will survive the transit.  Wrap the perfume bottle in a cling film.  This will ensure that it will prevent any leakages. Then cover the perfume or its perfume box with bubble wrap securely.

Another form of protection for the perfume bottle is to put them in a wine protector bubble wrap.  This will ensure they have plenty of cushions to avoid breakage and survive the pressure during transit.  

Medicine

Sending medicines in Balikbayan boxes is ok as long as they are adulterated or misbranded medicines.  I usually send vitamins and other over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol, anti-histamines tablets and creams, heat rub creams, ibuprofen etc. 

Mainly these medicines in tablets or cream forms are pretty easy to slide in through the gaps in your balikbayan box.  If the medicine comes in a bottle form,  I usually seal the cap with packing tape, then cling film it to avoid leakages and then wrap it with bubble wrap. It is mainly to ensure that it will survive the journey inside the balikbayan box without damage and damaging the other items inside the box.

Canned goods

The canned goods are the easiest yet tricky to pack in the Balikbayan box. Due to the size, weight and shape of the canned goods, it can be challenging to fit it around the other items inside the balikbayan box.

I usually stack my canned goods items like spam, cooked ham, corned beef etc at the bottom part of the box. And put the same shapes and sizes together to save space. In this way, these heavy items are out of the way and can be used as a cushion for the other items in the box.

Toiletries and other Bathing items

Toiletries and other bathing items are the usual favourite items to include in any Balikbayan box.  I also include a lot of shower gels, talcum powder, soaps, shampoo & conditioners, toothpaste and denture cleaning tablets and gels in my balikbayan box for my family.

For the liquid items such as the shower gels, shampoo and conditions etc, I seal the cap with packing tape, and then with a cling film to ensure that it would not leak inside the balikbayan box. This is one of my favourite balikbayan box tips when packing these items ready for the journey.

Soft toys (cuddly toys or stuffed toys)

Soft toys are another favourite items to include in the Balikbayan box.  Most especially the young members of the family, get immense joy to see these toys.  I have sent a few soft toys in my Balikbayan box for my family and to the Purple Community Fund Foundation in Tondo, Manila.

One of the packing tricks that I did was to put all the soft toys inside an extra-large vacuum zip bag, mainly for storage.  This fits beautifully inside my balikbayan box, and I managed to squeeze in all the soft toys that I have to send over.  I also use this Balikbayan box packing technique for fluffy clothes like jackets and sweaters.

Balikbayan Box Tips in Packing Wrapping and Sending
6 Helpful Balikbayan Box Tips: Packing, Preparing and Sending

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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