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  • Metrobox Cargo

10 Things to Remember Before Packing Your Balikbayan Boxes

Need any help with putting together that package? Organizing and assembling a balikbayan box isn’t as simple as one might imagine. It’s an expensive, time-consuming ‘trial and error’ experience that MBC wishes to save you from.

With that said, here are 10 tips from the Metro Box Cargo family that’ll get you packing like a pro even if it’s your first time!

1. Make a list of everything you plan on including in the box.

There are 2 main categories: requests and necessities. Both of which are self-explanatory. Never underestimate the planning that goes into packing because the endless possibilities of what to put can be overwhelming. In the end, you might end up forgetting to include the things that really matter.

One useful method to keep priorities in check is to ask yourself if these items are important and/or urgent. If an item is important and urgent, it’s best not to include it in a large box with the rest of the stuff because assembly and shipment could take months. The same goes for none important and urgent items. If they don’t need it, eliminate it. Space could always be used for more valuable items.

2. Don’t overthink it.

What if they don’t like it? What if it’s not enough? Will they appreciate it?

Stop being insecure and just enjoy the experience of giving. You can choose to keep it exciting by just putting the things you enjoy abroad and see if they’ll want more of it in the future. The element of surprise is what makes the experience of opening up a balikbayan box thrilling.

But when in doubt, the best thing to send sometimes can be as simple as tissue rolls, excess plastic bags you got from WinCo, soaps, Cetaphil facial cleansers, and other toiletries that help cut down on the monthly grocery expenses. Whoever’s handling the budgeting at home will definitely appreciate it.

3. Ask what they want or need.

People are either going to barrage you with suggestions or be hesitant about their wishes. Since assembling a large or medium box can take a while, you can ask shy relatives to compile a list of suggestions to send to you over time.

It’s better than constantly guessing. You wouldn’t want to be that tito or tita who fills the box with Smucker’s PB&J while your nieces and nephews pretend to be grateful but deep down, they’re sick and tired of it.

4. Make sure these items are allowed to be imported or exported.

It’s also important to do your share of research on what’s illegal to send home or not. Some countries, like the United States, are very strict with which imported items can go into the country or not. The Philippines is much more lenient with imported goods, fortunately.

Firearms, alcohol, and drugs or prescribed medications are a big no-no. Regardless if it’s for a collection or not.

5. Check the expiration dates of perishable goods.

Imported nga, expired naman.

In other words, the ‘treat’ you’re sending home could very well give your family food poisoning. Balikbayan boxes aren’t assembled overnight. It can take months before you finish filling up a large box and even more until it’s delivered to the shipping address. Do the math before you include items like chocolates, sandwich spreads, and condiments.

6. Seal bottles with tape, cover sharp edges and add protection to fragile items.

If you’re sending shampoos, facial cleansers, lotions, perfumes, and condiments, make sure to seal the caps with durable tape to avoid spilling anything inside. Apart from the hassle of cleaning it up, it’ll be a waste of money and effort, too.

For items with any sharp edges, be sure to cover them with cloth or bubble wrap to avoid puncturing other goods. The same goes for the fragile stuff. If you’re sending that giant bag of Froot Loops for the kiddies, make sure to wrap it up well so it doesn’t get punctured, spoiled, and crushed.

7. Don’t put the soaps too close to the food.

Honestly, what’s worse than M&M’s that tastes like laundry detergent?

Having eaten candy that tastes like soap is something that all people with OFW relatives can relate to. If you’re assembling two or more boxes, it’s best to just keep these things separated. Imagine being an excited 10-year-old seeing a pile of imported chocolates, digging in only to spit it back out because it doesn’t even taste edible anymore?

8. Strategize where to position heavy and lightweight items.

It’s a given that Spam, Dak, and Vienna Sausages are joining the trip. Try to put all the heavy and wide stuff below the fragile stuff to avoid any unwanted deformities. Another strategy to go about it is to scatter the canned goods. To pack a balikbayan box requires the expertise of a puzzle master. Don’t be afraid to be creative in order to fill in those nooks and crannies. You wouldn’t want to waste any space but be mindful of the box’s weight, as well.

9. Add an extra barrier on the bottom and top opening of the box before having it sealed.

On the off-chance that the shipping company accidentally slashes any tape or mishandles the balikbayan box you worked hard on, it’s best to be extra cautious. Even spreading out some old magazines or laying out items at the bottom that can cushion all the other stuff can be a big help. You never know if people really handle your boxes with care.

10. Find a company you can trust to deliver your package.

You need a company that understands that this heavy box filled with goods isn’t just something they can throw around and sloppily stack on top of other cargo. Finding a responsible company that can deliver packages in a short period of time and in good condition is like striking gold and we at Metro Box Cargo understand your needs perfectly. Visit our website at to check out our services and promos.

MBC currently operates and provides forwarding services over the whole San Francisco Bay Area including the San Francisco Peninsula, Eastbay, Southbay, Northbay to Tracy, Stockton, and Elk Grove, and the Greater Los Angeles Area, Modesto to Merced area. Our new branch at Tracy, CA also covers Lathrop, Manteca, Stockton, Lodi, Modesto, and Elk Grove.

Any tips of your own to share with us? You can email us today at or visit our webpage here: You can also reach our US office at 1-855-355-6387 and our Manila office at 374-930 for any concerns.

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