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When it’s just my wife and I traveling, we typically don’t check luggage – for the most part, even if we’re going to be gone for a couple of days, we can make do with just a single carry-on for each of us.

But if we talk about the whole crew going, then we typically will need to check bags.  We actually haven’t done a ton of family airplane traveling, but we had a recent week-long family trip and I got a few comments (okay, okay, ONE was from my mom but the other one was from the gate agent!!! :-D) about how well we managed all the baggage.

How much luggage does a family of 8 need?

Well, I am not sure if I can answer how much a family of 8 NEEDS for a week-long trip, but I can at least tell you how much we TOOK.  That would be 17 (SEVENTEEN!) pieces.

Checked bags

  1. Large red suitcase
  2. Medium red suitcase
  3. Small red suitcase
  4. Green suitcase
  5. Blue P&G bag
  6. Blue duffel bag
  7. Pack and play (wrapped in a cloth bag because after having gone through 6 kids, it is on its last legs…)
  8. Red bathroom bag
  9. Black suitcase


  1. Laptop bag
  2. Camera bag
  3. Flower backpack
  4. Time out for women bag
  5. Stroller
  6. Carseat
  7. Black carryon bag
  8. Pink backpack

The plan

southwestlogoGood thing that Southwest gives 2 free checked bags!  With 8 tickets, that gave us 16 bags.  As you can see, we didn’t quite use that many, as much as I wanted to.  Since being the cheapskate that I am, I am morally opposed to paying for those airport luggage carts, that does put somewhat of an upper limit on things…

Although there are 8 of us, not all of us are capable of carrying big suitcases 🙂 !.  Though we did give everyone other than the 2 year old a job to do (her job was to ride in the stroller).

Before we got to the airport , I wrote down on a piece of paper (hotel stationary, natch) the list of our luggage, divided into checked and carry-on piles.  Then I went through it and assigned the various pieces of luggage to a person.

My first pass through didn’t stick – so we had to swap some of it around as concerns were raised (i.e. people whined about heavy their bag was…)

On our way

First check was outside the hotel as we waited for the shuttle.  We lined up and counted off people (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8) and then I read off the various pieces of luggage and the person who had it would say “Here”.

We repeated that process once we got to the airport, and again, once we started in line to check-in.

I know it seems a little Von Trapp perhaps, but when you have a ton of luggage, you really do need something like this or else you’re very likely to misplace something.

At the airport

Once we were able to get to the checked bags err…. checked, it became a lot easier, since we got rid of half of our bags!! Still, we repeated the process as we made our way through security and to the gate.

Once we got to Reno, that’s when things got interesting.  While I was dealing with the rental car agent, Carolyn and the kids watched the baggage claim.

When I checked in with them, they said that they were missing a bag (and my parents were also missing one).  While I went back to talk to the rental car agent (which is a blog post in and of itself…), I see a lady wheeling a suitcase away that looked an awful lot like one of ours.

Before I could do anything, here comes Carolyn sprinting through the terminal chasing the lady down! I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying, but the gist of it was that this lady had our bag.  We had similar suitcases and she didn’t bother to check the tag.  Carolyn had seen this lady’s suitcase, but didn’t take it because she confirmed that the one still on the conveyor was NOT ours.

In the end, crisis averted, but I am glad that we had a good system to make sure that we walked away with all of our bags.


My parents were not as lucky – they ended up having to file a claim, though the bag did end up in RNO and was delivered later that evening.

I know generally the rule of thumb is to avoid checked baggage, but when a family of 8 travels for a week, that is unavoidable!  And if you’re keeping track of 17 pieces of luggage, you’ll need a system.

I hope that this helps you the next time you and your family travel!

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