Storing luggage when visiting cities

As a rural and now regional resident who has visited cities since old enough to carry a bag, I’ve walked many, many kilometres around cities dragging a heavy suitcase. Or sometimes just bags of shopping that I’m taking back to a remote area. These days I’m always travelling for work reasons so often have photography gear with me plus a laptop, and sometimes a drone as well. So packing just a carry-on quantity isn’t an option.

When in a hotel overnight bags can be left for a few hours after checkout – but this can also require time-wasting backtracking. And while usually reliable, something I hadn’t thought about until today – luggage is not usually covered by insurance when left at the front desk by guests who have arrived too early to check in, or after checkout. This is stated in the fine print of most hotels.

What do travellers need, in relation to luggage storage?

  1. Security – a guarantee that whole bags or bag contents won’t be stolen (a locked room & reliable ticketing; or individual lockers)
  2. Convenient pick up hours & absolute reliability of those hours, plus a 24/7 helpline (arriving to find your bag storage business shut, when you’re on your way to the airport, could be a heart-stopper)
  3. Useful locations – in the centre of cities, near public transport hubs –  major train stations, bus terminals, main taxi ranks. Ideally at airports also, but many countries wouldn’t be thrilled with having unattended bags parked nearby, due to security concerns.
  4. Ability to book in advance & pay online. Because who wants to cart a bag all the way to the storage location, only to find there’s no room left; or not have enough currency left, on the last day of an overseas trip?

Just discovered 3 great luggage storage businesses. They’ve been around for a couple of years, but are now really getting some traction and finally getting going in the southern hemisphere:

  • bagbnb – originated in Rome, in 2016, and with the most locations in Australia, at present.
  • LuggageHero – began in 2016, in Copenhagen.
  • Stasher – created in 2015, in London.

Airbnb is what precipitated the creation of these luggage storage businesses however there’s multiple benefits for many people, including travellers who are in hotels they don’t want to have to backtrack to:

  • Travellers are set free from bulky luggage (especially a relief, where noisy cobblestones are involved); less clogging of footpaths & retail businesses in crowded destinations
  • Service businesses with high inner-city rents can earn money from spare space (& cafes have found that bag storage customers often turn into meal customers as well)
  • Other retailers are more likely to benefit from traveller spending as visitors will roam for longer and further away, being free to walk unhindered
  • Hotels further out could also benefit because travellers can book this cheaper accommodation, then pay to park their bags in the middle of the city on the day they’re leaving. (In London last month I paid top dollar for a hotel beside a major railway station, simply so we could roam all day without our bags & avoid the need to backtrack to collect them on the evening of our departure.)

Luggage storage services have similar specs, but do read the fine print as there’s some differences. Here’s a basic summary:

  • Tickets are required upon pickup plus photo I.D. Usually, only the person who dropped the bag off can pick it up.
  • Security seals are added to bag zippers to show they were not opened = LuggageHero & Stasher.
  • Luggage & contents are covered by insurance against damage, loss and theft (but the maximum claimable varies between companies. At the time of writing, LuggageHero has much higher insurance coverage).
  • Luggage storage premises inspected & certified and guidelines are clearly laid out (looks like LuggageHero & Stasher may be more thorough in this regard).
  • Payments can only be made by credit card online, not cash. There’s several customer benefits in this, including insurance coverage proof – plus it adds a traceability layer which would help allay the concerns of public security agencies.

Presumably existing luggage storage businesses will jump on board, as well as new operators. Luggage storers have been sparse & hard to find so having a comprehensive list, with defined standards, will be a boon for travellers.   Hotels have always be my preference – it’s their core business so they should be the best operators in this space – and paying via a luggage storage service would be worth it, for insurance coverage.

Luggage forwarding services:

  • Had enough of your luggage altogether?
  • Bought so many gifts that you have to pack them into a second suitcase?
  • You have age or health-related issues that make carting a bag difficult or impossible?
  • Stopping overnight en route & don’t want the hassle of the bag containing a month’s worth of gear?

Pack & Send have offered luggage forwarding services for years, along with general freight packing and sending. Now there are also companies that deal specifically with unaccompanied baggage, such as  Send My Bag and First Luggage.  Of course these services to/from a more distant location such as Australia aren’t cheap but they are very cost-competitive on high-volume short routes such as between the UK & Europe – sometimes cheaper than the cost of adding a bag to your flight ticket.

Or – you don’t want to spend that much, or want your bag to travel on the same flight – but don’t want the hassle of finding day-storage for it, or to have to cart it to the airport? Some countries have services such as AirPortr, which works to & from London’s airports. They’ll pick your suitcase up, scan your boarding pass & take it through security for you. You wave goodbye to your suitcase at your hotel then greet it at the carousel at the end of your flight.

I look forward to testing luggage storage & handling services out – while of course casting a careful eye over reliability and security related comments, in reviews.  My arms & back are going to be delighted and used in smart ways, these services will save on taxi and hotels costs, while providing better insurance coverage.

What I typically fly with when running a drone workshop at an event or taking photographs on commission.

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