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Traveling light is a sound piece of advice. For that, you need to leave your belongings behind.

The issue: Suppose you plan to go on a long trip and you stop paying rent, so you have to return the keys. You cannot and do not want to take all your stuff with you, but you don't have that much stuff either and everything fits in 3 or 5 large suitcases. You want to keep all that in a safe place while you travel.

Of course you can think family and friends, but assume they are far away or have no space available. What creative options do you have to solve this problem? Are there places who offer excellent value in storage for your money and charge by the month? Perhaps places that can help you with that even if it is not their main business? Are there non-commercial alternatives?

Location: in principle it could be mostly anywhere, because depending on the price it may be worth the ticket, but preferences would be for Europe, especially some central hub (major cities with huge airports like Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Frankfurt etc), followed by Central and South America.

I believe that knowing how to deal with this can be, for many people, a liberating step for finally hitting the road.

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3 Answers 3

Yes there are places that specifically provide luggage storage for travellers, but it won't necessarily be as easy to find them across destinations.

I was travelling at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Western Europe and North Africa and at that time many storage lockers disappeared for fear of people using them for bombs. I have no idea whether this trend continued.

I do know that in Sydney Australia there's only one place that still stores luggage for travellers, Travellers Contact Point. To give you an idea what the charges might be in an expensive travel destination:

ITEM                                DAY   WEEK  MONTH
Small Bag / Small Suitcase          $10   $35   $45
Medium - Large Backpack / Suitcase  $15   $40   $50
Surfboard                           $15   $40   $50

(Access fee $5)
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That means that 5 suitcases would be $3,000 a year. Not trivially cheap, as a matter of fact. Good reference. –  MightyMover Oct 30 '12 at 8:37
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It looks like I missed something. This service is for people already travelling who don't need all their junk for their whole trip. I guess you want to store your stuff at home before you leave. In that case I don't think there's anything specific to travellers, but self-storage units are pretty universal. –  hippietrail Oct 30 '12 at 8:52
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I tend to agree with MastaBaba; some more points.

Helsinki, Finland nowadays has lots of temporary self storage options, and I'd be surprised if there aren't similar services in major cities in other countries. I suspect a big customer segment for these businesses are exactly people who go on a long trip and move everything they have in a storage for that time.

With little effort, I found at least these options in Helsinki area:

Anyway, Helsinki is just an example (though it has a well-connected airport, it's probably not the kind of central hub you had in mind, and possibly more expensive than other parts of Europe).

I suggest you pick a potential city of your liking, and then just google: london self storage, berlin self storage, etc. Try e.g. this for Madrid or this for London.

As for more "creative options", I guess you could make friends with people on e.g. CouchSurfing and eventually come across someone in a good location with extra space in their house, willing to store your stuff for free or cheaply. Or you could ask around in CS groups of specific cities. Obviously this would require time, luck, and that you trust random people. I'd personally recommend just turning to a company specialised in personal self storage.

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For cheaper self storage, maybe have a look at StoreMore in India, Love Box Self Storage in China or Safehouse Storage Facility in the Philippines? (Found through the Wikipedia article on self storage.) –  Jonik Dec 3 '12 at 18:56
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As you point out, friends and/or family should be a consideration. If it isn't, you're typically left with self-storage. One example: Shurgard.

Much cheaper than keeping an apartment, but the costs do add up. If you only have a few suitcases that need storing, I'd try to find a friend.

Shurgard isn't the only self storage solution, but it's the only one I personally used. Their pricing schemes are somewhat obfuscated, which I found annoying. I used one of their storage facilities in the Netherlands for about two years. The first month cost me 1 euro, every other month was, I seem to remember, about 75 euros, all inclusive. Though I also had to buy a unique lock. This was for the smallest available storage unit.

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Thank you MastaBaba. I saw a professional storage solution like this some time ago but left with the impression that it was a bit too expensive. I wonder if there are other, less expensive alternatives without sacrificing peace of mind. –  MightyMover Oct 30 '12 at 8:41
    
Have you or anyone here personally used Shurgard? Their smaller spaces do seem affordable, although they mention mandatory insurance and an administration fee, and the site doesn't make explicit how much they cost. –  MightyMover Oct 30 '12 at 11:20
    
Updated the answer with a pricing indication. –  MastaBaba Oct 30 '12 at 11:29
    
Great. Do you have the breakdown of the price? Seems relevant, since the smallest storage in the Netherlands is as low as 40 euros. The lock is a one-time thing, but I wonder how much the insurance plus administration fee add to the announced prices, and judging by your number it could almost double it. –  MightyMover Oct 30 '12 at 11:46
    
(Funny, I would expect lack of space to be an omnipresent problem, and therefore to exist plenty of such solutions with different price ranges, but this Shurgard is the only one I hear something about) –  MightyMover Oct 30 '12 at 11:49
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