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What to Pack in a Barrel being Shipped to Jamaica

What to Pack in a Barrel being Shipped to Jamaica

So you read the ‘Guide to Barrels And Drums – Shipping Basics’ and are fully versed on what barrels and drums are all about. Now you are ready to try shipping a barrel for yourself.

If you are feeling confused and hot under the collar about what to put in the barrel and where to buy it, you have come to the right place.

This post gives you a guide as to what to pack in a barrel being shipped to Jamaica so you get the most out of the experience and cost involved in shipping.

More Information: Missed the memo on barrels and drums? A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

What to Pack for Jamaica

Before you go ahead and buy your barrel you will need to think about filling it up. A standard sized barrel holds 210 – 220 litres (about 55 Gallons) and is surprisingly roomy inside, consuming innumerable items to fill it up.

Depending on what you buy,  it can be costly to fill up a barrel due to the internal capacity. So either take your time buying up items over a period of months, or get yourself prepared for the onslaught if buying it all in one go.

If you are stuck as to what to put in the barrel, think about who the recipient will be. Are you sending the barrel to yourself, or to a loved one?

For example, is the barrel going to a child, an adult with a young family, or are you sending it to granny? This will help you determine the type of things you are going to want to initially include as the essential or basic items.

If you want to pack a barrel with provisions, just think about what you, or the recipient normally eat and use inside the home.  After that, buy some things that will be useful. For good measure add some of your favourite treats and a few bits to give away, plus anything else that is expensive and hard to come by in Jamaica.

That might be easier said than done, especially if you haven’t been to Jamaica for a while (or ever before), as it can be hard to know ‘what is expensive and hard to come by in Jamaica’ if you have no experience of living there! So keep reading and I will cover that for you too.

More Information: If you are ready to start packing your barrel, read How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica

10 Tips when Buying Contents for a Barrel

  1. If you are on a budget try buying goods over a period of time, especially when they are on offer
  2. Check the sell-by-date and reach for the products with the longest remaining date printed on the label
  3. Look out for deals, sales, promotions, coupons, buy-one-get-one-free, 3 for 2 deals and special offers
  4. Check out bargain basement stores, such as £1 – One pound, and $1 – One dollar stores
  5. Join warehouse stores, such as Costco or Makro, and buy bulk sized portion packs
  6. Compare the prices of products online before going out and buying everything from one store
  7. Make use of supermarket home delivery, you are less likely to deviate from your list if you buy online
  8. Look for products packaged in plastic containers, rather than glass, as they travel better and require less padding
  9. Second-hand clothing attracts less tax, eCommerce sites, such as eBay has sellers offering ‘bulk loads or bundles’ of clothing, many barely worn, for next to nothing
  10. Remember the climate is different, unstable goods rot and melt, man-made materials have a tendency to suffer from dry rot and un-coated metal products are soon affected by rust

tinned cans

Barrel Content Ideas and Tips

The most important thing to remember is to only pack ‘shelf stable’ products, so don’t pack anything that requires refrigeration.

Think of it as the contents of a pantry, so buy up stocks of kitchen and home basics that have a long sell-by-date and which form part of a meal. Household items, school supplies and hurricane preparation goods are well received, as well as clothes and accessories.

 

Pack a Barrel – Content Ideas 

  • Dried foodstuffs; rice, dried pasta, dried beans / legumes, noodles, couscous, tea bags, hot and cold drink powders (with milk and sugar inside!), biscuits, snacks, breakfast cereal, cornmeal, popping corn, dried seasoning, protein powders and health foods
  • Tinned foodstuffs; fish, meat, baked beans, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit / desserts, milk, (Jamaican’s aren’t usually fans of tinned soup)
  • Jarred / bottled foodstuffs; cooking oil, peanut butter, spreads, sauces, condiments, jams (jelly), coffee, olives, pickles
  • Detergents and Cleaning materials; washing detergent for clothes, washing up liquid, bleach, cloths, sponges, pot scrubbers and other cleaning materials.
  • Kitchen essentials; foil, plastic wrap, food bags, food clips
  • Toiletries; soap, liquid soap / shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body lotion, face cream, deoderant, razors, face scrub / wash, suntan lotion, cotton wool / Earbuds (Q-tips)
  • First Aid; antiseptic cream, plasters (band-aid) bandages, tape, pain pills, allergy relief, muscle rub, vitamins, flu / cold remedies, insect repellent, bite relief, rehydration salts, diarrhoea and sickness relief
  • Kitchen wares; pots / pans, dishes, cups, cutlery, utensils,  mason jars and similar, tupperware /plastic airtight containers
  • Soft Furnishings; bed sheets, blankets and covers, shower curtains, towels and bath mats, tea towels
  • Household Items; washing line, clothes peg (pin)
  • School Supplies; backpack, pencil case, pens and pencils, geometry set, dictionary, coloured pencils, notebooks, sketch pad, craft supplies, embroidery supplies, reading books, educational aids, snacks
  • Hurricane Supplies; tarpaulin, rope, flash light, candles, rainmac / poncho, umbrella, water boots (wellington boots), batteries, counter-top gas plate (DO NOT inlcude the GAS cylinder!!), vessels to hold water

What NOT to Pack in a Barrel

  • Do not pack any items that usually need to be refrigerated, such as meat, cheese, fish or other dairy products
  • Do not pack any fresh fruits or vegetables, plants or flowers, any forms of live animals; including birds (including eggs) / insects / sea life / reptiles or other organisms!
  • Do not pack any freshly prepared products, or part cooked foods, such as breads and baked goods, microwave and oven meals, pizza and pastry items, fast food of any kind (although most fast food could survive a nuclear holocaust the amount of preservatives they contain!)
  • Do not pack anything that is flammable, explosive, corrosive or dangerous in any way!
  • Do not pack matches, lighters, gas cylinders of any kind, fireworks, wet batteries (vehicle batteries)

Items that are Expensive and hard to come by in Jamaica

I would like to say that most things are available in Jamaica, but certain items are really over priced or hard to find, especially if you live in rural areas.

International Foods: If you are into eating international foods and like to whip up your own meals, it would be prudent to include a few grocery items that make this possible.

I enjoy cooking Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Italian Foods, among other things. So I always pack basmati rice, authentic Thai Curry pastes, fish sauce, dry seasonings and herbs, tins of bamboo shoots, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, packet mixes, condiments, stock cubes, dried beans and legumes, olive oil, super-food powders, protein powders / supplements, clean living foods and other similar products.

Point of Note: Cooking Oil of any kind is expensive in Jamaica.

Pharmacuetical and First-Aid Supplies: Pharmacists in Jamaica must get paid great commission from the manufacturers, because they invariably recommend and prescribe the most expensive brands, instead of showing you the generic non-branded options. The cost of the simplest items will make you consider if you really need it.

I would highly recommend packing yourself a box of first-aid items, as outlined in the list above so you aren’t caught out when in a mini-crisis.

Homewares and Soft Furnishings: The majority of items made from fabric are either cheap imported Chinese goods, or expensive international versions. One towel can cost almost the same as a ‘bale of towels’ overseas, you could buy two or more bed-sets or blankets for the same price as one, curtains and nets are in a similar position.

Pots, pans, cutlery and utensils, in fact all kitchen supplies, one word to describe… Expensive.

Hurricane Supplies: All and sundry on the list above is expensive in Jamaica.

School Supplies: You can get cheap pens and pencils in Jamaica, in stores like Bashco, but the rest of the items are pricey.

Toiletries: When you can buy nearly everything on the list above in a pound or dollar store, it seems rude not to bring them with you! Or you can expect to pay 2 to 4 times that price in Jamaica for the same item, if they stock your usual brand.

Clothes et all: Whilst a barrel full of clothes and accessories is going to cost you more tax, a few choice items will make someone’s day. Despite Jamaica’s tropical location the weather is changeable throughout the year, hot and overbearing,  rainy and humid, chilly and wet. So don’t just pack shorts, flip flops and swimsuits!

Anything different, or from overseas is revered in Jamaica and that includes random things like snow boots, which I have seen a couple of people wearing since the ‘winter’ kicked in over here!… I would recommend something a bit more practical though!

 

First Aid Kit

 

What Items are Prohibited or Restricted by Jamaican Customs for Personal Shipping?

Some items are prohibited and restricted from entering Jamaica, so don’t assume because you own it, or it is legal in your own country that it will be allowable in Jamaica. There are laws, rules and guidance about what items are prohibited from entering Jamaica.

The Jamaican Customs website states that Prohibited Items include:

  • Prohibited items are absolutely forbidden from entering Jamaica, some of which include:
  • Indecent and obscene prints
  • Indecent and obscene prints, paintings, photographs, cinematograph films, lithographs, engravings, books, cards or written communications or any indecent or obscene articles whether similar to the above or not and any    parcels, packages or packets having thereon, or on the cover thereof, any  words, marks or designs which are grossly offensive or of an indecent or obscene character.
  • Coin-base or counterfeit coin of any country.

The following and similar publications:

1. All publications of de Laurence Scott and Company of Chicago in the United States of America relating to divination, magic, cultism or supernatural arts.

2. All publications of the Red Star Publishing Company of    Chicago in the United States of America relating to divination, magic, cultism or supernatural arts.

Some meats, fish, dairy produce, seeds, sugar and other items are also restricted.

More Information: Jamaican Customs website has designed a supporting PDF outlining the goods it applies to if in doubt.

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Further Information About Shipping

We have plenty of guides about shipping a barrel or crate, or anything else for that matter. Check out our other posts to read the whole series on Shipping to Jamaica:

Sweet Jamaica Guides to Shipping

Want to know what a barrel is all about and where to get one? Read A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

Want to learn how to effectively pack a Barrel? Read How to Pack a Barrel for Shipping to Jamaica COMING SOON!

Want to learn the process involved in shipping in the senders country? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part One

Want to learn the process involved in collecting a shipment in Jamaica? Read The Art of Shipping a Barrel – Part Two

Want some additional information on Shipping to Jamaica? Read Sending a Barrel or Crate to Jamaica

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

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A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

A Guide to Barrels and Drums – Shipping Basics

Have you ever noticed a big blue plastic barrel sitting incongruously by the roadside in Jamaica, or displayed in a shipping companies window overseas and wondered what it was used for?

Maybe you have thought about sending some items to loved ones in Jamaica and want to find out more about barrels and drums first?

This post will give you a Guide to Barrels and Drums, the shipping basics. So you know what barrels and drums are all about, prior to getting into the nitty-gritty of arranging shipping to Jamaica and traversing through customs.

 

Brief History of Shipping Barrels to Loved Ones in Jamaica

If you have ever visited Jamaica you may have noticed the amount of recycled drums and plastic shipping barrels that are harboured by residents across the island. These barrels and drums arrived in Jamaica aboard a cargo ship at one time or another. After being filled by a ‘pack a barrel’ genie overseas, who invariably knows all the tricks of stocking up on bargains and stuffing every piece of available space inside the barrel until it is ‘cork’ (full to the brim).

Shipping barrels back home ‘to yard’ is a long-standing Jamaican tradition, especially at Easter, Back to School and Christmas time. When a barrel full of love from overseas is carefully packed and sent over to loved ones, or dependents still living in Jamaica. These barrels are highly anticipated and the recipient is full of excitement when fishing into the depths to see what is packed inside. It is a way to keep in touch, reach out and support loved ones living in Jamaica, when they are apart.

 

Shipping a Barrel to Jamaica for an Extended Visit

The lure of shipping a barrel is one that might start to cross your mind when you are travelling to Jamaica for an extended stay, or when planning a trip to visit friends and family on the island. It’s the kind of thought that appears in your mind as a light-bulb moment, when the headache starts and the panic sets in over your luggage allowance and whether you can fit all the things you want to take with you in your suitcase.

I would highly recommend shipping a barrel to Jamaica, as it is a great way of contributing to the people you are staying with, or lowering your grocery bill if you are living independently over here for a while.

I will warn you know though, once you do succumb to shipping a barrel it is easy to get carried away, when you find the one intended barrel, becomes two, and two becomes three… I could go on, but I think you get the idea of what has happened to me before!

More information: Sending a Crate or Barrel to Jamaica

Where to Buy a Shipping Barrel

Barrels are usually sold by shipping companies and shipping agents, where they may offer free, or low-cost delivery in the local area. I have also seen barrels sold at international Money Transfer shops and e-commerce websites, such as eBay and Gumtree.  Shipping companies and international money transfer shops are popular in areas where there is a high population of migrant workers, such as London, Miami and Toronto and in areas where there is a shipping port or transport hub. It may be trickier to find barrels and drums in rural areas, but you can search online if in doubt, to locate the nearest supplier.

More Information: Looking for assistance with Shipping?  Recommended External Shipping Partners

 

What does a Shipping Barrel look like?

The most popular type of barrels used for shipping are made of plastic and are often recycled, after being used to transport raw materials of some kind in their earlier life. The plastic barrels aren’t always blue, but it is a very popular colour! Check the inside of the barrel for cleanliness and aroma, as some have an over-powering smell that may affect the taste of any food items you may wish to pack inside afterwards. If in doubt just leave the cover off for a day or two prior to packing, so that it can air out a bit.

Plastic Barrels are widely available in two sizes and are supplied with a plastic or metal cover, which has a separate ‘belt like’ levered locking fastener to secure the cover firmly in place. The barrels with the metal covers have the larger diameter, but the covers have a tendency to get bent at the edges making them harder to open and close after a time. Whereas the plastic covers are generally smaller in diameter, but they are sturdier are easier to fit creating an air tight seal on the barrel. Make sure you check the barrel opens and closes effectively before taking it home.

You can also buy metal drums or cardboard barrels, if you prefer. Just remember, whilst slightly cheaper, the cardboard barrels will be lighter, not as sturdy and will eventually be affected by the ingress of water. Conversely, the metal barrels will be heavier before you have put a single item inside and will be harder to manoeuvre around – but will be great for cutting in two when emptied to make a jerk pan when it reaches Jamaica!

Dimensions of a Shipping Barrel

  • The largest and most popular plastic barrel is about 36″ high and has a diameter of about 22-23″
  • The wider the mouth of the barrel, the easier it is to pack and unpack the contents
  • Large Barrels hold about 205 litres / 55 Gallons
  • Plastic barrels cost in the region of £32.00 in the UK, or $25.00 – $40.00 in the US
  • As far as I am aware there isn’t a weight limit to the contents (don’t go above 450 lbs!), as long as it can be moved by two men and the bottom does not fall out when it is moved!
  • You can ship almost anything in a barrel from food, household goods, clothes and toiletries to car parts, paddling pools and light tools (More information: The Art of Packing a Barrel – Part One)
  • Do NOT overly stress the barrel when packing it, as it will be stacked like for like in a 20 or 40ft container, and transported on a cargo ship which will be tossed around in the high seas potentially for weeks on end

 

Dimensions of a Shipping Barrel

Barrel Security

Once you have packed your barrel the shipping agent generally collects it from you and a small tamper proof seal is added to the lever.  The seal should not be removed until the person authorised to clear the barrel is present to witness the customs officials strip the barrel at the wharf to work out the tax payable in Jamaica.

There is no key for the seal as the sender may not be travelling to Jamaica to receive the barrel, so it just needs strong pliers to cut it off. If you are concerned ask the shippers to write the unique ID number on the security seal on your paperwork. Then the person that goes to collect the barrel at the wharf would have a record to check the barrels have not been tampered with.

Labelling your Barrel Correctly

Be sure to use a thick black permanent marker pen to write your name (or the receivers details) and address clearly on the barrel and the cover, so it is easily identifiable at the wharf. Do not forget to include the local post office in the address, (despite the barrel being delivered to the wharf) as this is the address they will use to contact the receiver if need be. The shipping agent will generally add their own label as well, but it is best not to rely on it.

In short, YOU are responsible as the sender to make sure the barrel is clearly marked and is easily identifiable at the wharf. Misspelt, incorrect and illegible names and addresses will not aid you in a speedy and stress free shipping process the other side.

Benefits of Shipping a Barrel to Jamaica

  • The large barrels hold about 205 litres / 55 Gallons (some hold more), with a mouth of up-to 23cm making it easy to load bulky, heavy or fragile items
  • You can send grocery items to cut down on weekly shopping bills in Jamaica, such as, detergent for clothes, washing up liquid, bleach and other cleaning materials. Tinned foodstuffs, rice, oil, foil, teabags, coffee, breakfast cereal, snacks and so on
  • You can pack some home comforts alongside gifts for friends and relatives, without compromising on your luggage allowance on the flight
  • Some items such as fixtures and fittings, housewares, soft furnishings and kitchen ware are very expensive or hard to get in Jamaica compared to the deals and choice you get overseas
  • You are able to send down specific and much needed items for loved ones and dependents in Jamaica when you are living overseas
  • The total cost of shipping a barrel, compared to the amount / weight of goods shipped is very economical when compared to sending by air mail, or a courier service

What Can you pack in a Barrel?

I would recommend packing your barrel with what you love, need and want for yourself or the recipient, alongside things that are hard to find or expensive in Jamaica. When choosing the contents be aware of the other costs involved, as the fees to be paid in Jamaica are related to the type and value of the contents.

You also need to sort your items and pack your barrel in a certain way to ensure that the contents reach the destination without spillage or breakages.

More information: The Art of Packing a Barrel – Part One

Do you have to pay Tax when Shipping a Barrel?

The short answer is YES! Regardless of the fact that you have bought all the contents and the barrel itself, and paid for shipping to Jamaica. Anything imported into Jamaica is liable for shipping costs, customs fees and taxes.

Barrels containing a mixture of food, (used) household and kitchen items, cleaning materials, toiletries, used clothes and other sundry items have the lowest tax bracket as they are considered to be items for personal use. When I asked the shipping agent in London how much customs tax I was likely to pay for one barrel containing these types of items they said it would be from $6,500 and would be payable at the wharf in Jamaica. Please Note, there are other fees to pay on top of the customs fee.

More information: The Art of Packing a Barrel – Part Two

 

What Happens to the Barrels after they are Emptied?

The plastic and metal barrels that once carried the goods, gifts and belongings of someone ‘dere a farrin’ to the hands of someone ‘back a yard’ are seen all over Jamaica in their retirement phase. Recycled drums and barrels are used as water storage containers, clothes storage facilities, containers for personal belongings, jerk bar-b-q’s (metal barrels only!), garbage bins and other types of storage vessels.

In Conclusion

A shipping barrel is an ideal way to transport goods to Jamaica from overseas locations. They are sturdy, water-resistant, secure and surprisingly roomy. The cost of a barrel is reasonable and the charges levied by shipping companies and shipping agents is very affordable compared with other methods of international delivery.

 

 

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

Have you shipped a barrel to Jamaica, share your experience? Join the Comments Below….