Here's How To Deal With Your Luggage Before And After Check-In

Unfortunately, no matter how well we plan our travels, sometimes there's just no way to get around pesky hotel check-in/out schedules and flight departure/arrival times. Inevitably there will be a space of time between the two where you have to figure out what you're going to do while you wait and, of course, what to do with all your luggage. At this point, you probably regret bringing so much stuff, but let's ease your luggage worries. Since this is such a ubiquitous predicament for travelers, there is no shortage of solutions at hand to help you navigate luggage limbo.

These days, hotels are pretty accommodating to their guests. Most will hold your luggage in a secure room on the property until you can come back to retrieve your bags. Some may charge a fee, but this is less common. However, it is typically good manners in most places to tip the bellhop or front desk staff as a thank you for keeping an eye on your things. But this may not be possible to do at your vacation rental (like an Airbnb), small hotels, or hotels that are very busy and have many guests who also need to store their luggage. In these cases, you will need to find another solution.

Where to store your luggage when the hotel is not an option

If you're in a big city, luggage storage facilities and lockers are usually easy to come by. These are usually small facilities with unassuming storefronts that are located throughout city centers. They may either have a secure room monitored by an attendant or are automated facilities with large lockers where you can safely keep your items while you tour the city for the first or last time. The lockers are usually accessed with a code, which, if you're prone to losing things, is probably the most secure option! To find these options, try searching [city name] + luggage storage.

Many airports and even train stations also offer luggage storage services for a fee. If you're flying, you might use airport storage if you plan to take advantage of a long layover but must pick up your bags after clearing immigration. You may also use this service if you just plan to be in a city for a few days and don't need all of your luggage and can store a few items. Of course, the fees can add up if you're doing it for multiple days. Again, search the name of the airport or train station and "luggage storage."

If you're in a small city that doesn't have luggage storage options and your hotel or your Airbnb host can't store your luggage, it's worth inquiring around to other hotels or hostels to ask if they are able to store luggage for people who aren't guests.

Other alternatives to storing your luggage

When all else fails, you may want to consider sending your luggage on its own solo travel adventure — aka, shipping your luggage home or to your next destination. This isn't necessarily a last-minute solution (unless you're willing to spend a pretty penny) but if you have a few days' notice, you can arrange this quite easily. 

While this may seem like a huge hassle, there are lots of companies these days that offer this service to weary, luggage-burdened travelers. SendMyBag is one of the most popular and cost-effective luggage forwarding services out there and ships bags all over the world. Like many luggage shipping services, they partner with DHL to send your bag wherever it needs to go. Most bags can be sent either home or onward to another destination for about the same price as a checked bag costs on an international flight, though the cost varies based on distance and where the bag is being picked up and dropped off, and the associated customs fees. For most bags, all you need to do is secure a shipping label to the bag, zip tie the zippers closed, and be present for pick-up at the indicated address and time. You will also need someone present for the delivery of the bag, too. If you're worried about it getting lost in transit, you might consider placing a tracking device in your luggage like an Apple AirTag.