I’ll give you two scenarios, and you tell me which one sounds like more fun:
1) Taking advantage of 5 hours in Philadelphia by exploring the historical sights on foot.
2) Taking advantage of 5 hours in Philadelphia by exploring the historical sights on foot while dragging your luggage behind you.
If you picked number two, stop reading. This won’t help you. Also, you’re weird.
My fiancé and I recently took a weeklong trip along the east coast of the US, visiting friends and family along the way. We had five hours in the city of Philadelphia before heading to his friend’s place, about an hour away by train.
The plan was simple – arrive by Megabus at the 30th Street Station, drop our bags at the luggage storage, take the train into the city, check out some sights, then get back to the train station, grab our bags, and catch a 4 o’clock train.
We rolled into the cavernous, museum-like station and straight to the information booth.
“Hi,” I said. “Is there luggage storage here?”
“Are you an Amtrak customer?” the woman asked. “Luggage storage is for Amtrak customers only.”
Hoping this was a lie, we went to the luggage storage to inquire directly.
“Are you an Amtrak customer?”
Shaking our heads sadly, we wandered towards the subway. Maybe they’d have lockers or something, we reasoned.
“No. No luggage storage around here.”
Jared had a 40 litre backpack and I was pulling a small neon-green rolling suitcase. Hardly a burden, but not quite how I’d envisioned the day.
We had one last resort: The Independence Visitor Center, right in the historic district of downtown Philadelphia. Trudging through the January drizzle, we entered the flashy new building, the sound of my bag’s wheels echoing throughout the hall.
The 90-year-old woman behind the desk was very sympathetic to our plight.
“You know,” she said. “I only work here on Fridays, but somebody asks me that every week. Just last Friday there was a little girl with a suitcase bigger than she was, looking for somewhere to put it.”
“What did she do?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. There’s no luggage storage anywhere around here.”
Despondent, we exited and headed for the neighboring Constitution Center, hoping to at least leave the bags in a coat check as we visited the museum.
“Coat check!” I hissed victoriously, spotting it as we approached the glass entrance doors.
Unfortunately, it cost $14.50 to get in. Apparently there is a room full of life-sized bronze casts of the signers of the Constitution, but for nearly $30 between us we could imagine them pretty vividly in our heads. Besides, Independence Hall, where they actually signed the Constitution, was free and just on the other side of the square.
“Do you think they’d…” I let my statement trail off.
Jared and I stood, my suitcase between us, looking longingly at the coat check area. The shade was drawn, and a sign directed us to the information booth in front.
“I’m just going to ask.” I approached the booth, where two girls in their late teens/early 20s were sitting, looking bored.
“I know this is a long shot,” I said, “but is there any chance we could leave our bags here for the day?”
“Sure,” the girls said, as one sprang from her seat, eager for something, anything, that would distract her from sitting.
And just like that, our bags had a home. For free. All day.
We never even bought admission tickets, just turned around and went to Independence Hall. Normally I would feel sort of guilty about this, but at that point I was just grateful.
City of Brotherly Love, you’ve earned your title. At least when it comes to covert luggage storage.