It’s been a stressful week – with work and business deadlines, travel planning, Christmas coming, friends, family, and clients to serve and share with, my to do list seems to go on and on. It’s times like these that I like to take time out, away from others, and just sit, breathe, and gather my thoughts.
We all need a little quiet time to relax, give our senses a rest, and reconnect with ourselves. Even just 10 minutes alone each day can allow us to switch off, reflect, and breathe. I try to carve this into my day when I’m at home:
- Starting the day with a warm cup of tea in my hands
- Sitting in my hammock, or when it’s cold, in a comfy chair beside my fireplace
- Taking a bubble bath
- Sitting in my parked car for a few extra minutes before going in to work or in between clients
- Treating myself to a solo lunch, before or after the lunch hour rush
- Turning off my computer, or phone for a short time
- Driving without the radio or other music
- Lying in savasana on my yoga mat
But quiet time can be difficult to find when traveling, especially if you are always with others. One of the most difficult challenges about travel is that you often have little to no control over your environment. Here are five places you can find quiet on your travels:
- Art galleries/museums – now, obviously, I’m not talking about the overcrowded Louvre in Paris, or MOMA in NYC. Look for smaller, lesser known galleries or even private exhibitions. Many of these are free, or have lower admission prices, and often showcase the same artists as their larger, more prestigious competitors. Use the seats strategically placed in front of your favourite works of art and allow yourself the time to sit quietly and observe.
- Churches – you don’t need to have a religious or spiritual side to appreciate the architectural design, beauty, and peaceful setting of a church. Historically revered for being a sanctuary, it’s a natural place to find quiet space (and is often much cooler if you’re looking for a break from hot weather). With literally hundreds to choose from, and few entrance fees, if you’ve ever received a postcard from me, there’s a good chance that it was written in a church or church courtyard.
- Libraries or Second-hand Bookshops – these may seem rather “old school” but libraries and bookshops are natural quiet atmospheres that often also provide comfortable seating. There’s nothing quite like the nostalgic, musty smell of a second-hand bookshop, and with more and more cafés springing up within library walls, it’s easy to browse the shelves, find a comfy chair, and lose yourself in a good book. An added bonus, for those looking for a place to work, the library is usually well equipped with printers, scanners, and computers, and are often housed in beautiful architecture.
- Hotel Lobby – Unless you’re in an around the clock city like Las Vegas or New York, after hours, or just before the earliest of risers, the hotel lobby is usually fairly deserted. You can also find quiet seating areas tucked away on most hotel floors, usually at the end of a hallway or near the elevators. While most people congregate in the lobby, or lounge, these seats are usually empty.
- Universities – most universities have large learning commons areas or courtyards with enough nooks and crannies to indulge in some quiet time. Many universities or colleges, both old and new, also offer interesting architectural design or works of art. They are easily accessible, and usually fairly deserted during weekends.
When all else fails and you simply can’t get away from a noisy environment (or other people), remember that it’s perfectly fine to put on your noise-cancelling headphones, tune out the world, or take that extra long shower.
Finding quiet time gives us space to decompress, relax, and enjoy our travels. I’d love to hear how and where you make this space. Feel free to leave a comment, or travel question below this post.