Storing luggage when traveling
When traveling for more than a day, having to lug a suitcase around becomes inevitable. If you have checked in at a hotel, for the most part, you would leave your bags and belongings in your room until its time to checkout.
However, there are a few common scenarios where you may consider having your luggage stored elsewhere while you go about your day:
- Your hotel check-out time is at 11:00 AM, however, you flight home does not depart until 7:00 PM in the evening. You have at least 5 hours to spare before you really need to get to the airport.
You arrive at your destination early in the morning before anything is even open. Your hotel check-in is at 3:00 PM in the afternoon.
You are visiting the city only for a day and are continuing your journey to the next destination without staying the night.
You are visiting Amsterdam and on your last day in the Netherlands, you want to take a day trip to Rotterdam before returning to Schipol in the evening to take your flight home.
Make use of friends and family
To have a friend or a relative whom you can trust take care of you luggage is the best and the safest option. They can leave your bags in their garage or their hallway or even (weather permitting) in their balcony and you can be rest assured they will be there when you return.
Just don’t leave any perishables in your suitcase to risk turning your relationship sour.
Requesting an early check-in
Most hotels will not object checking in early especially when rooms are available and ready. Since there is no additional cost to allowing guests to check-in early, you will not have to pay additional charges.
There are exceptions, however, when renting rooms out at day-use-hotels such as at airports or train stations. You will likely pay by the hour depending on when you check-in and checkout.
How early can you check-in
It is quite reasonable to request an early check-in at around 9:00 AM. The hotel will be fully staffed by then, and most services will be available to you such as breakfast, the gym, the pool, and the bell-hop.
According to the experts at One Mile at a Time, the earliest you may be able to check-in is at 6:00 AM and only after the night-audit has completed. Some reservation systems will not even allow for check-ins until then.
In an extreme case, if you are arriving after mid-night and before 5:00 AM, you will be charged the full night. If you are aware of this situation, then you need to make a reservation for the night before. Make sure to let the hotel know of your arrival time well in advance: because sometimes automated systems will cancel reservations if you haven’t checked-in by 12:01 AM.
Request a late-checkout
Hotels will typically allow you half-hour or even an hour of extra time when checking out, especially when you have infants and young children. However, just outside, housekeepers are already turning over adjoining rooms. Their chatter and the noise of the vacuuming would already make you uncomfortable.
If you overstay your checkout beyond midday, any hotel will begin charging you starting 15% of the room rate. After 2:00 PM it raises to 20% of the room rate. After 4:00 PM, you will be charged 50% of the room rate. If they haven’t kicked you out by 6:00 PM, you will be charged for the full night, even if you do not intend to stay.
You must let front-desk know when checking in if you want to request a late checkout. It is an annoyance to staff to let housekeeping know of last-minute overstays, especially when the hotel is fully booked and new guests are expected to arrive within hours.
Late checkouts make sense if you need stay in your room and need the extra time to pack your bags and prepare your children.
Have the hotel hold your luggage
Many hotels have luggage holds or simply a storage room where there may be space for bags also. Even if you are not a guest, you may be able to store your bags for a few hours.
But having a hotel hold your luggage is usually and informal process with no written records, and not without a fee. There are other risks involved such as your similar looking bag being handed over to a different guest.
Either way, if you are up for it and if available, you can have your hotel hold your bags for you while you enjoy the rest of your day out in the city until its time to check-in or leave for the airport.
Storing luggage at the Airport, Railway Station or Bus Terminal
Having your luggage stored at the airport or the railway and bus terminal is probably the safest option if you have no friend or relative in the city.
At the airport your bags will be tagged and stored in a secure place and you will be given a receipt. These left-luggage areas easy to find once you have exited customs and are at the arrivals hall. If not, one of the airport staff must know.
Here are some airports that provide luggage storage to passengers:
For other airports and destinations, a simple Google search is all that is required.
Looking to store your bags at a railway or bus terminal can be a challenge sometimes, especially when there is no dedicated luggage storage. You may find self-serve coin and key operated lockers or credit-card and qr-code operated keyless lockers. However, you may not always find a locker large enough to hold your 50 lb suitcase.
At some railway stations in Canada and the USA, luggage storage services may only be available to ViaRail and Amtrak passengers.
Use luggage storage apps
In places across the world frequented by tourists and visitors, many small businesses and shops will offer to watch your bags while you explore and shop. They will charge a small fee and this becomes a side-income for them especially during the high-season.
This is not a new concept as for centuries inn-keepers, caravanserais and even mosques and dargahs have been known to store goods belonging to visiting tradesmen for days while they explored the local markets.
Today, there are websites which make it even easier to find businesses that are willing to store and watch your bags. After you have found a place, you will pre-pay and receive a QR-code along with the exact location of the business.
When you drop your bags off, the store-keeper will scan your QR-code and place tags an your bags. When you are ready to pick them up, the QR-code will be scanned again and you can retrieve your bags.
Some websites and apps which exclusively deal with luggage storage are:
- Radical Storage
- Lugsto (India locations only)
While these websites claim to personally vet every location, the system is not quite perfect. There have been complaints of non-existent businesses and, more frequently, of businesses with hours that don’t match.
Imagine when you need your bags dropped off in the morning and the shop that is listed does not open until after 11:00 AM. Or worse, closed on the day you need them (such as on the weekends, bank-holidays, religious observance etc.)
When looking to store your luggage, it really comes down to your preferences, your trust in others and the costs. If you have suggestions and bright ideas, leave us a comment and start a discussion below.