I moved to the Philippines a few years ago and I thought I was prepared. I learned during my backpacking days that lighter is better. My goal was always to bring as little as possible and just get what I needed as I traveled.
Turns out that backpacking and moving to a place are two different things. Ya think? As an American there are certain things that you should bring with you to The Philippines from the USA; reason being is that those things can be really hard to find once you’re here.
I’ve read on other blogs a slew of things that they ‘recommend’ you bring to The Philippines but I think they were ‘recommending’ those things more for the high affiliate commissions than actual need. For example, you don’t need travelers’ health insurance unless you’re already ill nor an expensive camera unless you’re a photographer. That is why for transparency’s sake I’ll tell you whenever something I’m linking to is an affiliate link.
Related: Best Places to Live in Luzon
Things to Bring to The Philippines from The USA
Assuming you’ve already got your plane tickets, passport, and visa requirements squared away, if you want to come to The Philippines to live you’ll need to bring: shoes & sandals, sleeveless shirts, several razors or a good automatic hair groomer, a good laptop, spam, a high-capacity power bank, a flashlight, sunscreen, hemorrhoid wipes, waterproof bag, a strike pen, a hat, and a teddy bear
#1 Shoes and Sandals
If you have big feet like I do then you need to bring your own shoes and sandals. Finding any sizes above USA 11 is almost impossible. Read about how I ended up paying $70 for a pair of sandals in the Mall of Asia! I go back to America every 6 months or so and I always bring back 2-3 pairs of sandals. Trust me you’ll go through sandals pretty quickly if you live in the provinces since you’ll be wearing them most of the time.
#2 Your own tank tops & shorts (sandos)
The men’s uniform in The Philippines is a sleeveless shirt, tank top, or wife beater with basketball shorts. Again, the issue here is size. Clothes are just hard to find here if you’re a big guy like me and if you’re like me you only have a couple of tank tops and pairs of shorts. So you’ll need to bring a few more pairs as you’ll go through 1-2 shirts a day in the summer. You’ll also need a couple of pairs of swimming trunks.
Related: Moving to Manila Tips
#3 Sun Screen
This is something that too many people avoid but is absolutely necessary. Regardless of your skin color if you’re coming to the tropics you need sunscreen. Even more so if you plan to wade in the water. I know guys that have passed away from skin cancer because they didn’t bother to wear sunscreen.
#4 Hair Grooming Equipment
Asian men have the least amount of body hair of any ethnic group and Filipinos are no different. That’s why if you’re planning on coming here you need a good arsenal of hair grooming gear. The choices for manscaping equipment here just aren’t that good. First you need a good razor that will last a long time. While you can get an electric razor I’m just not a fan of them. I use a QSHAVE Titanium Razor Kit (affiliate link). I bought one a year ago and the blades are still just as sharp as the day I bought them!
If you’re into manscaping your body then The Philips Norelco Body Hair Trimmer(affiliate link) is the best body hair trimmer I’ve used. It’s easy and safe to clean with tap water and it even works for your ballsack and buttcrack. Trust me guys, if you’re single you need to manscape. Remember, these girls are used to guys who are smooth as a baby’s bottom. Some Filipino men don’t even have armpit hair! It’ll make it much easier for your girl to get used to you in bed if she doesn’t have to go from smooth guy to a hairy wildebeest!
Just a note if you’ve never manscaped before then read these tips on how to deal with in-grown hairs.
#5 A High Capacity Power Bank
You’re at a bar wetting your whistle. A bar girl asks if you want to take her home. You think about it since she’s cute but ultimately decide against it. You pay your tab and stumble out the door. You pull out your phone to get a Grab when you see the dreaded red battery icon! WTF?! You have no choice but to wait for a regular cab. It’s a busy Friday night so you have to wait over an hour! Finally you get a cab and he charges you double what a 5 mile ride should cost, but you have no choice and accept his price.
You see unlike in America The Philippine cell phone carriers space their towers farther apart to save money. This means your phone has to work harder than it would in America to maintain a connection. This is why your phone’s battery will die quickly here. That’s why you need a power bank if you’re going to be here. The good news is they have great power banks that are nearly the size of credit cards (affiliate). That means you’ll always have power with you no matter where you go. Read my review of the Power Card by Survival Card.
#6 Hemorrhoid Wipes & Cream
Yeah – yeah it’s funny and a little uncomfortable to talk about but hemorrhoids are a big problem here. The Filipino diet is high in meat & rice and low in fibrous vegetables. I’ve never seen so many meals without any vegetables at all before I came here. That’s why it’s no surprise that over half of the population will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, some treatments are hard to find. Preparation H is the best hemorrhoid treatment that I know of and you can’t get it at any pharmacy that I’ve seen here. That’s why you need to bring your own if you come here.
Related: Hemorrhoid No More (affiliate link)
#7 A Strike Pen
If you’re going to live in The Philippines you’re going to need a multi-tool. A strike pen is a legit pen, a knife, a screwdriver, a bottle opener, a mini flashlight, and a hex-wrench all wrapped up into one. Whether it’s self-defense or fixing a broken door hinge, every traveler needs one of these. Here’s a coupon where you can get one for FREE just pay for shipping.
Just remember the rule of law isn’t what you may be used to back home. A New Zealander recently lost his life over a simple land dispute. Another reason I like the strike pen is since foreigners aren’t allowed to own a gun this is your next best protection.
#8 A Good Laptop
In October of last year my trusted companion, black Betty informed me that her end was near. Her keyboard and then the screen stopped working intermittently. I went to the mall to buy a new one. “It’s more cheap in The Philippines”, right? Not when it comes to laptops! They have a tariff on imported laptops apparently. That meant that a laptop that cost $350 in America cost over $750 in The Philippines! Ouch! That’s why if your laptop is going out don’t wait to get one.
No, don’t worry I’m not going to recommend some super expensive machine. I personally use a Ruggedized Chrome Book (affiliate link) for when I’m traveling and I have a home laptop neither of which cost more than $400. I’m a blogger by trade. Therefore a good quality laptop is a must for me anywhere I go.
#9 & #10 A Teddy Bear & A Hat
You’ll undoubtedly meet a girl and they love teddy bears. Especially if its a teddy bear from America! You can get one anywhere and have it with you to bring. Also, bring a hat whether it’s for you or for your girlfriend’s father. He’ll love a hat with an American basketball team on it. Even more so if it’s from America.