It is not very often that one unknowingly documents a Eureka! moment.
As we approach our 3 year anniversary I thought I would share a video clip from January of 2009 that documents just that.
Before launching Free Your Arms I was a professional videographer. I would often pick up my camera on a whim to follow an interesting story. On January 19th, 2009 there was no more interesting a story than the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. On a last minute whim and with only my camera bag in tow, I set out from NYC to Washington D.C. to document the historic day. At the time my biggest concern was getting stuck in traffic and arriving too late to get a good vantage point.
After arriving in D.C. I realized that I had a much bigger problem. I would not be able to gain entry onto the National Mall with my backpack. Now without a hotel room or a way to reach out to the few friends I knew was also traveling there for the event, I could only think of 3 possible options...
1. Find an alternative place to store my bag.
2. Book a hotel room (None were available).
3. Ditch the bag.
Play the video embed to see how I tackled that problem then, and reserve at the link below to find the solution if you have a similar issue now.
For six years after this event, I never really took the idea of an alternative luggage storage solution seriously. Would travelers really trust a stranger in a van with their bags? It seemed like a far-fetched idea.
It wasn't until as an Airbnb host seeing my guests deal with luggage storage issues, that I remembered that night and thought there may finally be a receptive audience for this nutty idea.
I started testing several luggage storage solutions while hosting, including using alternative spaces, Taxi and UBER drivers, and even a room in my own apartment to gauge what version of this solution might work best. Finally I settled on what I thought was the best solution for this problem and Free Your Arms was launched.
INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: During this trip I also could not find a place to crash and ended up crashing on the couch of a bar after some partying. It was also very difficult to find a Taxi during that weekend due to the surge of people pouring into the city. I ended up walking for hours in frigid temperatures both before and after the ceremony. What is also remarkable about this clip is it was at this same event where the seeds of the idea for UBER and Airbnb were also being planted.
Free Your Arms Founder