One of the inevitable facts of business travel is that you will likely be dining alone at some point. If you travel by yourself regularly, then dining alone may be the norm. It can be a difficult thing to adjust to, since typically when people go out to eat they go with friends or family. You may think, “People are staring at me! They feel sorry for me! They must think I’m a loser who has no friends!” A friend of mine was telling me about a recent experience at a restaurant where the hostess was walking around saying, “Smith, part of one! Table for Smith, party of one!” She was very embarrassed, sure people were looking at her pityingly. (Pictured: No one should feel sorry for anyone who is lucky enough to enjoy these Vino Volo salmon bites!)
I know that going to a restaurant by yourself can be daunting, but asking for a table for one does get easier after a few times. While eating room service or getting food to go are good alternatives, at some point it is likely you’ll need to eat out by yourself. Here are a few strategies to make it more bearable.
Entertain yourself. Don’t feel like you have to sit there awkwardly staring across the room. Bring your laptop, Kindle, or a magazine to entertain yourself. My sister will sometimes catch up on her Netflix shows. Watching How I Met Your Mother while someone brings me delicious food and wine? Sign me up!
Eat good food. Choose a local restaurant or one known for a regional specialty. Or use an app like Urban Spoon to find something that’s really unique or highly rated.
Don’t worry about what other people think. I know it’s hard, but you’re going to have to let this one go. Most people won’t even notice you’re alone, let alone take the time to feel sorry for you. Anyone who sees you sitting by yourself will probably be jealous of your quiet time.
Sit at the bar. If you crave company, most restaurants have a bar where you can sit and talk to the bartender or other patrons. Some have TVs so you can catch up on news or sports while you dine.
Now when I travel I look forward to eating out. Enjoying a new wine while I catch up on work or read something fun, while not having to talk to anyone, feels a little bit like heaven.
Readers, do you dine alone on business trips? What are your tips for making it more fun?