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Our family has just come back from an incredible two-week stay in Israel. We saw the sights, toured the country, and even sent the children to an Israeli day camp, giving my husband and I some much-needed respite. It was an intense experience, with us waking up at 7 to get the kids to camp, getting in some café time and work during the day, seeing some sights in the afternoon, family in the evening (my deepest apologies to the family we didn’t get to see; there’s always next time, b’ezrat Hashem) and then rushing back to our apartment to get the kids into bed and the adults back to work.

Sounds hectic, right? It was all good, even if we did need to work American hours. After all, if you get to work outside in the sweet Jerusalem night air, with the sounds of musical Hebrew swirling around you, are you really working or simply being fully immersed in the Israeli lifestyle?

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There is one thing I would change, and that is how we packed. In short, we packed too much, leading to major difficulties every time we got into our small hatch back rental (no mini vans for us in Israel!) and the multiple times we moved in and out of hotels and apartments. Not to mention the challenges of transporting the luggage throughout the airport. Though we spent thousands of dollars on our flights, we definitely had no intention of paying $1.05 for a luggage cart. The excessive clothing also proved too much for the meager storage options we had in our rentals, forcing us to trip over suitcases and rummage around every time I wanted to pack up swim bags.

The reason why I brought so much was because I was worried about doing laundry. However, I had forgotten that we were going to Israel, specifically Jerusalem, a major city, not exactly the outback of Australia. There were laundromats on virtually every corner, where you could drop off bags of dirty laundry and pick them up the very same afternoon, all nicely pressed and folded.

So in the future, this is how I will pack when we travel to Israel (very soon, with G-d’s help) and how to manage with less.

  1. Three bottoms, four tops. This became my new mantra every time I found myself struggling to stuff the 14 t-shirts I packed for my daughter into the tiny dresser: three bottoms and four tops is really all anyone needs if you drop off laundry every other day. Add one Shabbos outfit, two pairs of pajamas, four sets of underwear/socks, and one bathing suit, and each child’s possession should fit into one tiny carry on, especially if you follow the golden rule of rolling the clothes into tight rolls. It is literally mind blogging how much room you save! Unless you have some sharp fashion sense, you/your child will have to repeat outfits, but I think your back and the trunk of your car will thank you.
  2. Keeping on top of your laundry is important and the only way you can travel light. Also, very little annoys me more than piles of laundry growing rapidly. It gives you a tremendous sense of peace when the laundry basket is empty; trust me. There are a few options to doing the dirty deed, listed here from the most expensive to the cheapest:
    1. Use the hotel’s laundry service: This is the most expensive option where you will pay per item, similar to a dry cleaning service. Your clothes will come out crisp and clean, but it might be cheaper to simply buy new clothes.
    2. Drop off service at a laundromat: You can expect to pay between $10-$20 per bag each time for the convenience of having someone else wash and fold your laundry. You can save time by dropping off one bag of laundry and picking up the previous load if you plan your laundry days properly.
    3. Renta an apartment with a washing machine: Keep in mind, though, the difference in cost of an apartment without one. It might be cheaper to forgo the washing machine option and simply drop off your laundry. Very often in Israel, and in probably every other city that isn’t American, the apartment will also come with one of these useful laundry dryer-hanger things, so you can lay out your wet clothes at night and wake up to dry and fresh-smelling laundry.
    4. Use a neighborhood laundromat: Do like the locals do and schedule some time to wash the laundry yourself at a neighborhood laundromat. With proper planning, you can eat lunch or breakfast while the load finishes, or even do a nearby activity. Don’t bother drying the laundry; simply bring it home and let the natural dryness of Israeli heat do the work.

Now that you have slimmed down your suitcases, remember as soon as you get to your accommodations to unpack right away. This will enable you to get out in the morning and settle down at night as quickly and efficiently

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