The question regarding what kind of luggage to use when making aliyah is frequently asked, and since this is the week or our one year aliyah anniversary and I said I’ll be posting mostly this week about aliyah related topics, I’m going to answer it now!
We packed all of our things into Rubbermaid containers – we already had these, since this is what I used to store clothes in the attic that weren’t being used in the current season. I then packed these into larger cardboard boxes; we packed a blanket or sleeping bag around each Rubbermaid box to protect it, and it was also a great way to pack these bulky but useful items without adding much weight. (I also had the right size boxes to do this, since I liquidated my nursing pillow business when we moved and was able to use the large boxes that the pillows were shipped to me in from my manufacturer. So I didn’t spend any extra money buying either Rubbermaid boxes or cardboard packing boxes.) One of these boxes was heavy enough on its own that we didn’t pack it inside another box, and I was anxious that it would break open or crack with the rough handling that luggage experiences in transit. We taped it well with duct tape and it was fine but not all of the containers I had were of comparable quality and I had much more peace of mind packing in the way we did.
I am so happy with how we packed! When we arrived, we didn’t have any furniture but we were able to keep things reasonably organized with the help of our plastic storage boxes. Once we got furniture, we unpacked everything, but our storage boxes still came in handy. They can be used for a variety of things; they’re sturdy, watertight, and use space efficiently. They’re also inexpensive. These are much more expensive here than in the US, and I doubt I would have spent the money on them after arriving; I would have settled with using cardboard boxes, which aren’t nearly as efficient. They don’t take up any extra storage space since we now use them once again in our attic for clothing storage of things not currently in use.
What about suitcases? Suitcases are heavy and will take up a good portion of your allotted weight, so keep this in mind when you’re deciding what to do. Also, remember that Israeli homes tend to be more compact than American homes, so where will you store lots of suitcases if you choose to bring them? We knew we’d want to have a couple of suitcases once we were here for trips, and it was worth bringing them, despite the weight disadvantage. We’ve been glad to have both suitcases we brought, but are really glad we didn’t bring more than these.
Some people like to use duffel bags, but I ended up giving away the two duffel bags that we were planning to pack in, since they were bigger than the official size, and by packing them so that the dimensions were within the limits, our things would be rattling around inside. However, they are lightweight, and if it’s something you’ll use after you move, then they can be a good option.
For our carry-on luggage, we used a combination of large backpacks – we were able to bring one of our heavy duty camping backpacks like this – and small wheeled suitcases. This isn’t weighed but it does have to fit into the airplane’s overhead compartments, so the main criteria for this is that it fits that space.