Luggage & Travel Day

Another practical post to start off the week. Today, I’ll be sharing the luggage we chose and reporting on our travel day.

blair family at airport

Our luggage search was fairly extensive. First we window-shopped, just to get a sense of what was out there and what might work for our family. We started at TJ Maxx, which is my favorite spot to find great individual pieces at bargain prices. Next, we checked out the Army Navy Surplus store to see their enormous, sturdy duffel bags. I even approached Lands’ End about a possible luggage sponsorship because I love their totes and figured their luggage would be excellent as well — but during discussions, we figured out they didn’t have quite the sizes we needed for this particular voyage. So we kept searching.

suitcases lined up blair family

What I found out in my research: luggage can be really expensive, but there are true bargains to be found. We eventually happened upon the brand fūl (pronounced ‘fuel’) during a Costco trip. It gets great reviews and is very reasonably priced. We ended up buying 7 duffel bags (they were $40 in store), and then bought 7 carryon/backpacks online. That’s 3 pieces for $90. Not bad! Especially considering most of the carryons we looked at were around $200 each.

laminated luggage tagslaminated luggage taglaminated luggage tags

For luggage tags, I bought a set of 25 blank ones at Staples. You just slip inside a business card size piece of paper and run them through a laminator. Since I bought them at Staples, Staples did the laminating for free. For each backpack and carryon, I made tags with initials. GSB for me. BB for Betty. OSGB for Oscar. For each duffel bag and additional checked piece, I made tags that were numbered, B-01 through B – 10. We ended up checking 7 duffel bags, 1 guitar, 1 trombone, and 1 desktop computer (in original packaging).

Through the airport, we kept June in her stroller and hung the carseat from the stroller handle. The carseat came onto the airplane and the stroller was checked at the gate.

trombone case with luggage tagOscar looking at luggage tag

For carryons, everyone but Baby June used a roller bag plus backpack. We love these! The detachable backpack was really convenient. Even 4-year-old Betty could roll her bag through the airport with the backpack attached. Then, on the airplane, the roller suitcases went above the seats and the backpacks went below.

We think these backpack/rollerbags will be great if we manage to do any traveling around Europe while we’re here — we won’t have to check any luggage

ful carryon with backpackduffel bags at airport

I have no connections at fūl and this is not a sponsored post, but I am way impressed with our luggage. The duffels are really amazing. Tons of helpful compartments — even a wet/dry section. At $40, I felt like they were a great deal. The only disadvantage: these pieces are heavy. If you’re looking for feather-weight luggage, keep searching.

maude with roller suitcaseBlair kids at airport

Here we are trooping through the airport on the way to security.

blair kids at airport securityblairs at airport security

Security was pretty straightforward. Only one bag needed to be searched. Olive had her scriptures in her roller bag and the book is so thick and dense they couldn’t tell what it was. : )

Ben and Gabby at airport

Security went so quickly we had plenty of time before the plane arrived. We ate breakfast and took pictures.

baby with cracker on airplanekids with earphones on airplane Blair Family

The first leg of the trip was from Denver to Montreal. The weather was crazy cold that day, but the plane left on time. The flight was about 3 and 1/2 hours. June was well-rested and easy to entertain. Everyone else enjoyed the individual screen time.

kids at montreal airportkids at Montreal airportbaby in stroller at Montreal airportRalph filming at airport

At the Montreal airport we had a longish layover — about 2 or 3 hours. We ate dinner, practiced a little French and Ralph worked on the short movie he was making about our trip. You can see his movie, Denver to Normandy, here.

girl sleeping on airplane Maude Blairkids sleeping on airplane Olive Betty Blairbaby sleeping on airplane June BlairBoys sleeping on airplane Ralph, Oscar Blair

During the 7 hour flight from Montreal to Paris, the kids mostly slept. Poor Baby June had the hardest time during takeoff. She didn’t want to nurse or use her pacifier and her ears started hurting. The worst part, we couldn’t get up to walk and soothe her — which is the main way she calms down. She basically screamed for 15 or 20 minutes until we could walk her around the cabin. Then she slept and stayed asleep the rest of the way. Hooray!

In Paris, we took our time gathering all our belongings. We made a point of being the last people off of the airplane so we weren’t rushed and weren’t a bother to the other passengers. We collected our checked pieces and took two separate mini-van taxis to our hotel. Our rooms weren’t ready yet, so we left our luggage with the bellhops and went to check out Jordan and Paul’s new apartment. (In case I didn’t mention it, my sister Jordan moved to Paris the day before we moved.)

When our hotel was ready, we crashed there for the day (Wednesday) and rented a minivan to use for our first couple of weeks. We left all of our checked baggage items with the hotel storage — all we needed in our rooms was our carryons. We slept-in the next morning (Thursday) and then drove to Argentan around noon, making sure to take a touristy drive around Paris on our way out of town.

120 thoughts on “Luggage & Travel Day”

  1. Love all the wonderful pictures. When we took all 8 kids from Utah to Florida a few years ago it was a big deal. You make it look so easy. Have a wonderful time on your adventure.

  2. I am in awe of your organization and bravery. You make this look so easy. The pictures are great. Can’t wait to hear (and see) more of this wonderful adventure.

  3. you are there!
    yay… and it sounds you had a real good trip seeing there are 8 blairs travelling :)
    I love the pics with all the luggage, amazing… soooooo much!!!
    I did not know your sister is in France too… that is great… some family around!Enjoy and I am looking forward to read your news from France!

  4. Can you please let up know how they stand up through the flight. We need to purchase luggage and are looking for something that wont fall apart if abused by the airline.

  5. Oh my. I am so impressed. And you have your sister in Paris! There is only one thing better than moving to Paris – having your loved ones there to share it with you. I was lucky to move to Paris at the same time as my best friend by total coincidence. Can’t wait to hear more.

  6. Wow, what a great post – not only about luggage but about how to travel with kids. You are amazing. I stress about traveling with my 3 kids but you make it look easy with 6 going clear across the world. You make me think anything is possible, even with a big family and I thank you for that!

  7. Your planning and organization is so impressive! Thanks for sharing the great photos. So happy that the trip went smoothly for your family and can’t wait to read about your adventures in France.

  8. You did great. we travelled to England and France with our (4) boys a few years ago. It was hectic with all of the luggage and carseats. Any tips for hotels rooms for a big family. The European hotels are definitely smaller.

  9. Your organization is phenomenal. I’m sure you avoided many headaches by having all the same luggage & your ingenius tag system. I’m so glad to hear that you arrived safe & sound!

  10. Congratulations!! Very impressive!

    Thanks for sending all of the details about luggage. I’m just starting to research what we need for our trip to Germany this summer. We’ll only be there for 2 months, and want to be able to travel around as easily as possible from our home base, so I want us each to only take wheeled roller bag that can be carried on plus a backpack, so those combo bags definitely seem worth looking into for us!

    So excited for you all!

  11. I had no idea Jordan was your sister. I read both blogs and was thinking “how funny is it that two bloggers I follow are moving to France?”

    What an amazing experience for your family!

  12. Have I mentioned what an inspiration your family is! ?! We’ve always wanted at least 3 children (only have 1 now), but have hemmed and hawed about not being able to move abroad etc with a larger family…but every time I read one of your posts about this adventure, the more I realize that excellent organization, a strong desire for adventure, and a sense of humor (and patience of course) goes a long way towards making things happen. Hooray for the Blairs and “bonne chance” in Normandy! (Also, LOVE the luggage) we are on the hunt for some as well. We will check these out for sure.

  13. Welcome to Europe!

    I hope you are all settling in well, the video was great as are the adorable sleeping photos. But I just wanted to say that I was so impressed with how gracious Ralph was whilst filming, he is a great big brother and you both must be so proud of him.
    I was also so glad for Betty that in the film I saw that your house had a few brown ‘vines’, Madeline was one of my favourite books growing up!
    ‘In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines …’

  14. Amazing! So glad you all arrived safely and without too much hassle. Those bags look AWESOME! I wish I’d thought to pay attention to that when my little family of three traveled to the Philippines last summer. I did not plan well and our luggage was a major major hassle. Next time we go anywhere I’m getting those backpack roller bags for SURE.

  15. Oh, I love the sleepy photos. How cute! (And I’m always so mortified when my kids is freaking out on the plane and I can’t do anything meaningful to fix it.)

    My hubby and I went to Italy for 16 days in 2004. We packed in 2 backpacks. We’re planning another trip overseas for 2012, including the kids. I am mortified at the thought of how much stuff I’ll have to pack!

  16. This brings back so many memories of living in and traveling around Europe when my oldest two were younger. I am loving your posts about this adventure!

  17. Very useful luggage information! Happy to hear it was an smooth itinerary for this first family across-the-ocean-trip. What an adventure ahead of the Blair clan!

    It may sound to be too extreme (and Flora June might be too young but you never know, some babies are easy/ier to be introduced to sweet)… have you ever try lollipops? Just the cheap, smallest round shaped suckers. I always carry tons of then while flyng with my little ones (it’s the last resource: when nursing, zippy cup and/or bottles failed to thei soothing part of the job) It actually help me too with my snapping ears – Give it a try!

    (Warning: it would be messy with 2 years olds and under but at least you’ll be avoiding some stinky eyes from other passengers. :))

  18. What a great post — glad to hear your trip went well and that you’re settling in! My hat’s off to you. What a terrific job you did getting everyone from point A to point B (France!!) so beautifully!

  19. We’ve always purchased our luggage from Costco – they consistently have the best prices and the best quality! Our duffels are similar to yours (though I’m coveting that backpack/carryon combo) and they’ve held up VERY well for 6 years of fairly extensive use.

    CONGRATULATIONS! What a fun adventure. Can’t wait to live vicariously through your travels. :)

  20. Oh my goodness! Your kids are such troopers. And you are an organizing genius. I loved Ralph’s little doc. (Keep ’em coming, Ralph!)
    I am so in awe and utterly jealous of you all. I know you will have such a tremendous time.

  21. Congrats on a smooth trip! Your organization is nothing short of amazing! It didn’t even occur to me to buy luggage before our move. At that time each passenger was allowed 2, 50lb bags on international flights so we utilized all 400lbs we were entitled too. Everything else was shipped by air or sea. I’m shocked you were allowed to bring a desk top computer. Here in Lux the rule is very strict – NO PLUGS! This rule is about 2 years old. When we moved US plugs were still okay. The plug rule must not be EU wide.

  22. Nice to see you made it okay..
    Here is a tip: Avoid the white luggage!! :) I once bought white luggage , used it one time..Got home, it was now BLACK ! I will stay with the darker color luggage from now on.

  23. that was so much fun to read about. thanks for the details and great pics. now breathe a great sigh of relief that it all went so smoothly!

  24. also, quick question: did you ship anything over? I am trying to imagine moving overseas for a whole year with only a duffel bag and carry-on..if so, kudos to you!…but I’m just wondering…

  25. that video was awesome and your kids are adorable and so much fun! :) Oscar reminded me of my little brother.

    Can’t wait for more posts about your new adventure. If you are traveling to Scandinavia, let me know. I live in Sweden (Lasse’s sister..) :)

    XO Senja

  26. Welcome to France. Impressed with the luggage and glad the flight went smooth. Your own personal tv – kids love that. Hope you are getting settled and things are going well. Thinking about you down here in sw France.

  27. I can’t get over how easy you make traveling with lots of little ones across most of America and one big ocean seem! Welcome to the other side! Have you thought about Dublin as an English-speaking place to visit? Just an idea!

  28. DesignMom has been upped a notch to AdventureMom! It’s fun to live vicariously. Does the backpack zip off of the carry-on to make two pieces? That luggage looks too big for airline regulations. Also, why did you carry-on so much? Too much money to check bags??

  29. Cupcakes for clara

    I am so full of admiration for your whole family – you are all truly amazing. You’ve made it all look so easy and fun! Can’t wait to read more x

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