One thing I get a lot of questions about is dining alone. If you travel for work, chances are you are going to spend a fair amount of meals by yourself. At first it’s a bit daunting, if not outright depressing, to go to a restaurant and ask for a table for one. But after a few times, it gets much easier. Now I actually look forward to it! No one to judge what I eat or drink, no one to have to entertain, and some quiet time where I can get stuff done or take it easy, while someone brings me whatever I want. Doesn’t that sound fun? Here are a few suggestions for getting you from uncomfortable to happy dining alone. (Pictured: My awesome meal at the Angus Barn in Raleigh.)
- Don’t worry about others. One of the fears I hear often is that people feel sorry for people eating by themselves. But I promise—no one is looking at you, thinking, “That poor person is all alone!” Chances are, they’re too involved with their own dinner companions to worry about anyone else, much less a single diner in the corner. If they do notice you, it’s probably because they’re not having too much fun themselves, and they envy your solitude!
- Make it fun. Yes, you have to eat. But that doesn’t mean dinner out has to be a chore, to be finished as quickly as possible. Enjoy yourself! Order something delicious, try a new type of wine, taste a decadent dessert. With constant meetings, delayed flights, and never-ending emails, this may be the only down time you get during your trip! One of my favorite things to do on a trip is try local restaurants, especially ones well known for local specialties.
- Bring something to do. For some, the worst part of eating dinner on your own is the discomfort of sitting at a table with no one to talk to. Well, if you bring work or something to read, that issue is eliminated. It can be hard to work on a computer once your food comes, but while you’re waiting is a great time to get a few things done. I also often bring my Kindle, and enjoy reading something fun while I’m out. If magazines are more your style, that works too. Just turn a dinner alone into time to do what you want. Enjoy it!
Yes, you can order room service and eat in your room, avoiding dining alone. But you’re missing out on the opportunity to try something new, get away from work for a little while, be around others, and enjoy yourself!
Readers, what are your best tips for surviving eating alone?