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.