Luggage & Travel Day

February 7, 2011

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 tags laminated luggage tag laminated 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 tag Oscar 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 backpack duffel 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 suitcase Blair kids at airport

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

blair kids at airport security blairs 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 airplane kids 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 airport kids at Montreal airport baby in stroller at Montreal airport Ralph 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 Blair kids sleeping on airplane Olive Betty Blair baby sleeping on airplane June Blair Boys 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.

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Autumn February 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Welcome to France!! I really enjoyed the photos and Ralph’s video. I had a hard time commenting? Please pass it onto him how much I enjoyed it. Your kids are DARLING. Pictures don’t suffice. I really enjoyed hearing their voices and their French! ;)


2 Keisha Cory February 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm

How exciting! Thanks for sharing all those pics. This is something I would love to do with my family. And we can because we travel for a living so a base anywhere really works. Maybe just maybe:)


3 Freida February 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Major congrats on your move and thanks for such amazing pics from wherever you are!! I truly hope your stay in France will be the most delightful! Bienvenue, mon amie…


4 christy February 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I am so hooked. Thank you for sharing tour journey!!


5 Katia Long February 10, 2011 at 8:03 am

I am so excited for you & your family! What great, well behaved kiddos you have. Thank you for blogging this experience for your readers. I am so excited to log & read about your family’s adventures everyday. It feels like a virtual vacation for me!


6 Raquel February 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

Congratulations on making it to France (and so smoothly at that)! I am sure you will have a great time. The kids are so adorable. The Blairs are an inspiration to all of us!


7 Sam Jones February 14, 2011 at 7:31 am

Nice to read about the journey, everything is well organized and especially luggage suitcases are nice. It’s always recommended you should carry lightweight luggage which help to avoid such incidents. I’m glad you guys found luggage that you love. I bought Eagle Creek bag in last summer and really its worth for the money.


8 rebecca halls February 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

what a wonderful mother you are! you make it look so easy!


9 Jessica June 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Hello I love your blog!!! I was on the Ful website and am having trouble finding the luggage you purchased. Do you know the name if it?


10 dr June 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I’m getting ready to move to France (Paris — or rather, Vincennes) with my family for a year, and your detailed posts about the logistics of your move have been incredibly helpful. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share a bit about what you packed (in terms of clothes) for yourself for the year, and also if you’ve observed French kids dressing more formally for school than American kids typically need to. (We’re moving from southern California; kids wear Crocs and t-shirts to school year round. Given the exchange rate, if I need to buy my daughters more shirts with collars, I’d like to get some here to take with us!)

Thanks so much.


11 Erin June 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

I have really enjoyed reading your blog to help me get ready for our move to Poland with 4 kids. Unfortunately these awesome backpack/suitcases do not seem to be available at Costco anymore. The only websites I can find them on they cost $120, which seems to be more than what you paid. Seems like the perfect combination. I wish I could find them for a better price!


12 Lee July 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

What fun!

Love the video, too…complete with music from Vampire Weekend :-)

This looks like an amazing adventure. All the best!


13 pamela September 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Wow! You make it look so easy and with 5? 6? kids?!!! :-o


14 San Pedro de Atacama Tours September 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

Those bags look great. I can´t believe there are so many of them!!


15 Christina December 31, 2011 at 6:17 am

My family of nine needs some luggage to get us from Ohio to Spokane this summer. I have been looking at the brand you used and love the 2 in 1 zip off back pack, but it is discontinued or not available or something. They offer a different one than what you used. After all the travel you have done, have they still held up as you would have expected?


16 Frances December 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

This is brilliant! We are about to move to Italy in less than 2 weeks and i never would have thought to label the luggage like this! We will have up to 10 for our family of 5 so this to me is genius!


17 Lily April 22, 2013 at 6:23 pm

thank you for this post! I will be traveling with my five kiddies to the Caribbean and am searching online for tips to ease the stress =) i am hoping it will be a smooth travel…


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