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Top 10 Items In A Barrel From Overseas to Jamaica | Tips to Follow When Shipping Barrels to Jamaica

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

So it’s Christmastime! There is a lot that happens around this time in Jamaica but one very important part of Christmas is the barrel from abroad. A barrel to Jamaica is not complete without these items. Barrel shipping is a big part of Jamaican culture, it was really started by people who went overseas to work and left their children in the care of family members or friends. The barrel would be sent packed with clothes, food and school supplies for the child and their guardian.

Now, while this is still largely a part of it, barrels are also shipped for many other reasons. Many Jamaicans will even send money to loved ones abroad or use a barrel packing and shipping company to get their favourite items shipped to them. Either way, here are some items you dare not send a barrel without.
  1. Cereal - A Jamaican might tell you to put cornflakes in the barrel. They don’t just mean regular unflavoured cornflakes. O no. In fact, don’t send that one at all. We mean Fruit Loops, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frosted Flakes, Trixx. I think you get it now.

  2. Oil - No barrel is complete without cooking oil. At least a gallon of cooking oil must be in any barrel being sent to Jamaica. If you did not, did you really send a barrel?

  3. New Shoes - We love new shoes, even if it is a food barrel, you must have at least a shoe in there so that everyone can know a barrel came. We are expecting something especially if it is packed after Black Friday sales.

  4. Soaps, Lotions and Deodorants - Every soap is welcomed! Laundry, dishes, hair, skin it does not matter! V05, Dove and Dial are the top brands but Irish Spring is the most asked for product in my opinion (the original one specifically). Lotions, Jergens, Vaseline Intensive Care and Bath and Body Works products are essentials, and must therefore be packed in every barrel.

  5. Tuna/Sardine - Actually any canned food is welcomed. Canned food, tuna especially, can run a little expensive for the average Jamaican family especially a large one. Canned fish like pink salmon can only be had at high-end retail outlets. So these foods are much anticipated.

  6. Ramen Noodles and Mac&Cheese - These are popular with children. It’s an easy meal that older siblings can prepare if the adults are busy. We get creative with ours too, adding frankfurters, eggs, vegetables, meat making it a full meal.

  7. Peanut Butter - We can’t get enough peanut butter. At my house, it seems to disappear just as fast as it came. We use it to make sandwiches, cookies, sauces and gravies. Many kids bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school for a snack. It is an easy snack that even young kids can prepare until their parents have finished cooking.

  8. Tea Bags and Chocolate Mixes - For some reason, tea bags and chocolate/cocoa mixes (specifically Swiss Miss with the tiny marshmallows inside) run a bit expensive, especially if you have a family that is larger than average. It is also really handy in the morning when making breakfast for more than a few.

  9. Toothpaste - Now this, even if it isn’t a barrel and someone is merely coming for a few days and would like to bring something for a friend, they know they can’t go wrong with toothpaste and toothbrush.

  10. Sweaters - Pay no attention to the fact that it doesn’t snow here. We love sweaters, especially in the Christmas season when the time gets a little cooler. School students often carry their sweaters to school most days too depending on where it is located. BPO or call centre workers take theirs to work religiously as well. In many instances, there are specific colours and guidelines for these though so be sure to check before purchasing.
Now that I have shared the items we love, I think I should share with you a few items we would prefer not to see in our barrels.
  • Canned Soup - Not sure why, but it just never caught on with a majority of Jamaicans. I guess we just prefer our own Cock Soup(chicken soup mix) instead.
  • Ketchup - Again, we are very particular with the ketchup we use, even from local brands.
  • Tissue - With this, we just believe it takes up way too much space and that is something we get easily in Jamaica anyway.

  • Sausages - This one is a hit or miss with many. It just depends on your family’s preference.

  • Canned fruits/vegetables - Generally speaking, those cans of tomatoes, beets and artichokes are really a waste of space. We have a limited appreciation for those things. Trust me, an extra can of tuna would really hit the right note.

Tips When Sending A Barrel

We know that for many, sending a barrel on your own is difficult, at the end of the day you do have your own bills to pay. Here are a few tips when sending a barrel to Jamaica.
  • Make a budget - A budget is important. Sticking to it as closely as possible is even more important. Don’t be pressured into spending more than you are comfortable with.

  • Make a list - It is always good to have a list of the items and the quantity of each to make sure you don’t miss anything.

  • Don’t start shopping close to the time you plan to send the barrel - Make use of the deals you can get throughout the year. Buy in quantities you can afford and take as much time as you need.

  • Do not put money in the barrel - Do not put money or lots of expensive gadgets in the barrel. No matter how well you disguise it, something will go missing during transit with no explanation as to why. Or customs will place a higher charge if they suspect you might be packing the barrel to sell the items inside.

  • Maximize on Space - What you don’t want is to be sending multiple barrels unnecessarily. I can understand if you have lots of stuff to send but the more barrels you ship the more it costs to clear them when they arrive. It runs a bit expensive if you have more than one or two.
Well, there you have it. I hope it helps.

Rest assured that we appreciate the money, time and thoughtfulness that goes into packing a barrel for your folks back a yard.

I also recommend you read, How long does it take to send a barrel to Jamaica?


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