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Sometimes, on business trips, I might be going to a meeting with customer for half the day, say. If my flight is not till the evening, I may want to find a quiet place to work on my laptop for several hours. I often tend to head for coffee shops, which have the advantage of coffee (!), but the following disadvantages:

  1. They are often not even slightly quiet - noisy coffee machines, other people talking, etc.

  2. I feel a moral obligation (even if it's partly in my head!) to keep buying coffee, pastries, etc., which isn't good for the waistline or wallet.

  3. Some may not have good or any wifi, and it may be hard to find a power socket.

Assuming that I'm doing this on a budget (claiming back temporary office space such as Regus is a non-starter), what other typical alternatives exist for finding quiet, comfortable, ideally free or cheap working space in a city for a few hours?

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Oh I find them to work quite well thanks. –  hippietrail Sep 10 '13 at 13:16
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Jokes aside, I find this varies enormously from country to country, perhaps even city to city. I find this question on-topic but hard to answer. I'm not sure if you asked help finding spots in specific cities whether we would consider than on-topic or not. Possibly. –  hippietrail Sep 10 '13 at 13:21

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I always like finding public libraries when I travel, for different purposes.

One of them is indeed to enjoy this free, accessible and quiet environment. They also have toilet, often a water source to refill your bottle, and they're warm (useful when you have a long bus connection in winter). Most libraries often offer free wifi to non-members, paid access to copiers. Often they have computers with restricted access to their members, as well as scanners/printers. One drawback is that they might refuse you to get in with a large or heavy bag, but may offer lockers to store them.

Finally, one advantage is they have books :) and resources which could be useful to find a travel guidebook, maps or events near you.

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I've had occasion to visit them for their air-conditioning when it's hot outside too. –  hippietrail Sep 10 '13 at 13:18

First thing you could do is to ask the question on travel.se. Betahaus appeared to be the ideal working place in Berlin while visiting. In Paris there was La cantine, where I first learned of this formula. It almost feels like a movement. The idea is simple. It is a pub well equipped to work. So you get printers, decent internet access and other office supplies if needed. In Europe you need to look for "Co-worker space" on google (or the equivalent in the local language).

I was told that it is a "movement" that is also spreading in the US.

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You say you don't want to use Regus shared offices, but have you tried Regus Businessworld Gold? It gets you desk+internet+coffee in a shared office / lounge / etc. Some of them can be a little noisy, but often they're nice and quiet, just the sound of other people tapping away! With a gold card each visit is free, and the gold card itself is a very decent price (assuming you don't qualify for a free trial). It's no good for meetings or collaboration, but Regus will always hire you a room for that if you need one during your visit!

Otherwise, I think the thing you want to be googling for is "co-working space", especially community run ones. You normally have to pay a small fee for the day, but it's typically a lot less than a Regus office or meeting room would be. Generally a lot more sociable too, much greater chance of finding someone local to show you a good lunch spot, or share a beer with after the day's work!

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Not to mention that my status level with my airline resulted in my getting comped a Regus membership. I haven't tried it yet, but free is hard to beat :-) –  Kate Gregory Oct 16 '13 at 17:07

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