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Storing Backpack?

First time going to Europe. Are there places to store your Backpack if you do not have a hostel or hotel booked when you arrive to a City? If so, is this a safe thing to do? I'm so new to this and I want to bring 1 backpack and a small day purse. I dont want to drag around my backpack all day, any tips would be appreciated for this newbie!

Posted by
6513 posts

How are you traveling around? Some train stations have lockers and the ones that do are safe, but it depends on the city, a lot of stations have gotten rid of them for security reasons. Most cities will not have any other central place to store baggage. Best thing to do is book your accommodations as soon as you get to a city, then you will have a place to store your backpack while touring.

Posted by
11292 posts

The short answer is "Yes."

The longer answer is, it depends. If you are arriving at a city without reservations, how are you planning on finding places to stay? Know that fewer and fewer tourist information centers will book accommodations; they often just hand you a list and expect you to call places yourself, or book them online.

Once you do find a place, the place (whether hostel or hotel) will usually let you store your bags if the room is not ready. If it's a hotel, the room may indeed be ready before the designated check-in time. A very few hotels or hostels charge for this, but most will store bags for free if you're staying there. They will also hold bags if you've already checked out (very handy if you have a later train, bus, plane, etc).

Rick's books usually have details about other bag storage options in each city and how much they cost. This is particularly useful if you're there only for the day (passing through) so you won't have a hotel or hostel to use. Often the storage is at the train or bus station, but this varies. At a station, sometimes it's a locker, and sometimes it's a staffed place (the term for this is "left luggage"). When using a staffed place, you often have to wait in line both to deposit and to retrieve your bags - allow time for this. When using lockers, sometimes you need coins, but more are accepting cards (some require cards - again the procedures vary).

As for safety, while most people store bags without any problems, you will probably want to keep valuables with you, to prevent problems.

Finally, the New York Times just published an article about the growth of alternative places to leave luggage (for a fee, of course). Most of the ones referenced in the article are in the US, but some are in Europe as well.

Posted by
18388 posts

Try googling "left luggage"

In Germany a check room is called a "Gepäckaufbewahrung". If you can't make the ä, try Gepaeckaufbewahrung.

Posted by
21325 posts

I keep my luggage locked with a little TSA-compliant lock unless it is with me inside my hotel room. When I leave the room and when I'm traveling to a new city, the lock is on the bag. It won't stop a determined thief (you can probably pop those locks with a screwdriver), but it will be immediately obvious if someone has broken the lock, which I would expect to stop a less-than-honest employee. The biggest risk is that it is common procedure for hotel staff to leave open the door to the room they are cleaning. You don't want to make it easy for someone to walk into the room and grab something while the cleaner is working in the bathroom.

To me, using a luggage lock is an easy, common-sense precaution, though obviously no guarantee. Having done that, I do not worry about the contents of my luggage, and indeed I have never had anything taken from it after over 700 days in Europe. However, on days when I'm changing hotels (the only time I might conceivably need to store my bag somewhere other than inside my hotel room), I carry both my phone and my tablet in my purse. While there are other things in my bag I wouldn't want to lose, I don't take anything with real cash value except the electronics.

Because of security concerns, it is no longer a slam-dunk to find a luggage storage facility in every town of tourist interest, so you would be very smart to do the Googling suggested by earlier posters before heading to a new city. If you come up empty, you can always hope, but realize that you may be unlucky. If there's no storage offered at the train/bus station, look around as you exit the station. A couple of times in Italy I spotted a luggage-storage sign on a nearby café/bar; best to know the local terminology so you'll recognize such a sign if there is one. If there's no sign, you can always ask at a quiet, conveniently located café that looks as if it has some extra space in a protected area.

Once, in desperation, I walked into a 3-star hotel at a non-busy time of day, placed a 5-euro note on the counter and asked if the hotel would keep the bag. The answer was "Yes". I think that tactic would often be effective if you pick the right sort of place. It has to be a hotel whose front desk is always staffed so you don't need to worry about the retrieval end of the transaction, and a super high-end place might have rules prohibiting storing things for non-customers (just speculating here).

If you come upon the local tourist office, stop in and ask for advice. It will probably know about all the local storage options, both formal and informal.