Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Taking a trip over the long weekend? Here’s how to avoid dragging your luggage with you if you don’t have a place to crash.
File this under not-so-fun endings to a long weekend: Struggling to haul your suitcase up and down San Francisco’s hilly terrain all day long.
A few weeks ago, I went to California to visit Yosemite. Since we were driving in from the Bay Area, I didn’t make an effort to pack lightly. After my friends and I had hiked some trails and watched, slack-jawed, as climbers scaled the sheer rock faces, we parted ways. They headed back to Chicago, and I had a free day on my own back in San Francisco before my plane back to New York. What to do with my gear? I waded through TripAdvisor forums about a storage space all the way down on Fisherman’s Wharf. While I do love sea lions and sourdough bread, I was less enthusiastic about the long BART trip. Instead, I headed for the Mission.
How bad could it be to just roll the bag with me? Answer: Pretty bad, especially when it started to drizzle and I sought shelter in a crowded cafe. The wheels kept clipping people’s shins or nipping their ankles, and no matter where I tried to position it, my bag was always in the way. I felt every bit the bumbling, hapless tourist.
With a little advance planning, I could have been a lot more unfettered. These luggage storage options may come in handy if you have a layover or free day without a hotel or friends’ apartment to house your stuff.
Train stations and airports
If you’re planning to hang out in the vicinity of an airport or train station, it’s worth looking at storage options in the station itself. In Boston, for instance, you can leave suitcases at South Station. Amtrak passengers can drop off luggage in a secured area, and anyone—passenger or not—can leave suitcases in Greyhound’s Package Express area for a small fee. For security reasons, many airports don’t offer storage options, though some large international ones—such as London Heathrow—do. Many of these specify that you can’t check anything toxic, polluted, or explosive—obviously. But it’s also a good idea to leave any plants or perishables out, too.
Independent storage facilities
The storage industry is lucrative for start-ups. Sleek luggage concierge services are popping up to accommodate travelers’ cumbersome goods. Take, for example, City Co-Pilot, which bills itself as “your neighborhood front desk.” The storefront in Manhattan’s Lower East Side will keep an eye on your bags for as little as $5/day.
If you have more high-maintenance needs, the not-yet-open, haughtily-named Posh City Club, offers luggage storage plus a place to shower before an event, as well as charging stations and “sound-proof personal lavatories with music.” Membership starts at $39 for three days. The company estimates that the first locations will open by the end of 2015.
If you discover that storage options will be scarce, you can arrange to ship your bags off before you leave. LugLess will mail you tags to affix to your luggage, then schedule a pickup from your office, or anywhere else. You then schedule delivery on the other end within 1-5 business days. Trips within the U.S. start around $69. International travel is considerably more expensive.
Feeling gutsy? You could smile nicely, tip generously, and ask a hotel concierge or restaurant coat check person to hold on to your stuff. It might be a long shot, and you don’t want to put them in an awkward spot—so if the answer’s no, just move along.
And wherever you end up leaving your bags, remember to take any valuables and your ID with you. It may be a long weekend, but you can’t get stranded—work starts again on Monday.