What do you do about luggage storage when you need to dump your bags for hours?
I spend about half my time traveling with a significant other or small group, then the other half as a solo traveler. Going solo has a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to flexibility and quick decision-making, but it comes with a lot of downsides too. One big one is, you’ve got nobody else to watch your bags.
When you’re a traveling couple, it’s very easy for one of you to head off to the bathroom, go browsing the shops in the airport, or go look for a new hotel to change to because the one you booked in advance isn’t nearly as nice as it looked in the photos. One can keep an eye on luggage while the other goes and gets bus tickets or hits the ATM.
When you’re solo, you can get a random stranger to help you out now and then, but it’s one thing to ask for five minutes so you can go to the bathroom. It’s quite another to ask them to watch your bag for two hours. For that, you’re probably going to need some kind of luggage storage solution. Google says thousands of people every day are searching “luggage storage near me,” so here are a few solutions to consider that may or may not come up in a phone search.
Use a Professional Luggage Storage Solution
What may come up in an online search is a dedicated commercial storage space or a service like Stasher in London that has made arrangements with businesses around the city. That one has dozens of locations around the city, often hotels that are too pricey for budget travelers but that have plenty of room in their storage closet. These services can be quite reasonable, as in £6 for one day or £11 for two.
This is well worth it in a scenario where you can’t check into your hostel or Airbnb place until the mid-afternoon, but you arrived on an early overnight flight from the other side of the ocean. The last thing you probably want to do while jet-lagged is haul your bags around the busy sidewalks of a city while you’re feeling sleep-deprived and jet-lagged. With commercial services, you can reserve a place in advance that’s near where you’re staying and go straight there upon arrival.
Or if you have to check out of your place by 11 a.m. and you’ve got a train that doesn’t leave until that evening, you can store your luggage and spend the whole day exploring, with nothing weighing you down except a daypack.
Stay at a Real Hotel the First Night
Sure, you can save a lot of money by staying in a hostel or a one-room Airbnb place, but it can be worth it to splurge on a real hotel room now and then if you’re going to have a long stretch of time when you’ll need bag storage. I recently moved from a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn to a hotel in Manhattan, but in between I was spending 12 hours in meetings and then parties at a trade conference. Because I was at a regular hotel, I dropped off my bags at 7:30 a.m. and they were waiting for me that night when I finally got there to check in.
A “real hotel” doesn’t have to cost a fortune though. Almost any one of them that has a front desk will usually be glad to keep your luggage a few hours. Tip whoever took care of this, of course, but even 1-star and 2-star hotels have a place to leave bags.
Pay Someone Directly for Help
I own a company that does walking tours in Guanajuato, where I live in Mexico. Our tours start in the morning, but sometimes people take them after arrival, before they’re able to check into a home they have rented. We are a virtual company, so we don’t have an office to put their bags in. So what do we do? Get the customer to pull out some cash and pay someone direct.
Sometimes we’ve gotten a hostel worker to help us out, other times the admissions person at a museum or a restaurant owner. These people are not exactly raking in the big bucks, so the opportunity to earn an extra five bucks by keeping a few suitcases in a back corner is a welcome one. If you’re not finding a solution near your hostel or rental, just start asking around with some cash in hand.
Take Your Bags to the Train Station or Bus Station
All over the world, there’s one place where you’re almost sure to find a place to stow your luggage: the place where you’ll see lots of people with lots of luggage. In most cities, the bus station or train station is where you’ll find the most locals on the move. Sometimes those locals have a long stretch of time between buses coming in and going out, or they need to arrive early for some reason. So there will usually be either a dedicated luggage storage business or someone will have a sign up offering that service as their side hustle. (In my city in Mexico, the person stores luggage, sells sandwiches, and is a magazine stand.)
You don’t have to actually be taking a bus or a train to use these services. Nobody is going to ask you for a ticket or boarding pass. So if you are anywhere near a station, you can just pop in to leave your bags for a while. They are going to ask you for cash though—often more of it if you have a large suitcase and you’ll get charged by the hour. For long-term storage this is sometimes priced like a last resort. At the London train stations, for instance, more than three hours is going to cost you £12.50.