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So you took the plunge and bought your tickets to go on an adventure. But now you realize that you’ll have to do lots of stuff on your own. One question that has come up several times when talking about my travels is how do I feel comfortable eating alone?
Sure, if you’re staying in a hostel that has a communal kitchen or if you’re renting a house/apartment that has a kitchen you can avoid eating out and save a bit of money but what’s the point of travelling if you’re not experiencing the local cuisine? I find that food is such an integral part of a culture, so it’s important that you experience it when you’re travelling.
A lot of people feel really awkward about going to a restaurant alone. It’s not something we do back home; we go out with friends and family, or we do pick-up/delivery. Our society is driven by judgment and from conversations I’ve had with several people, judgment is what drives their fear of eating alone. “What if I look like a loser? What if people make fun of me? What do I do while I’m just sitting there alone?” I used to be one of those people that thought eating alone was suuuuper weird and avoided it, but that changed when I started to travel. I wanted to experience the local food. So, I put on my big girl pants and went to try some awesome food.
So what happened?
I ATE SOME AMAZING FOOD! I didn’t feel awkward at all, and the world didn’t end. And even better, I realized that when I was at home at a restaurant, and I saw someone eating alone, not once did I judge them; it was so irrelevant to me! So, if I don’t judge people for eating alone, why would people judge me? It was quite the pleasant revelation, and it was freeing.
It might be a bit awkward at first; you’re used to sitting at a restaurant with others and having conversations. You need to adapt to being solo.
So here are some things I started doing when I am eating alone to make the time go by:
I find bringing a book, tablet, or phone and jotting some thoughts down works really well. I order a bottle of wine or some beer depending on where I am in the world and I just write. I’m immersed in my writing and don’t even notice that I am alone. It’s also the perfect time to log your travels if you’re keeping a journal or memoirs of your adventures!
This is one of my favourite things to do at home so it’s no surprise I enjoy doing it abroad too. When a culture is different than yours, you can learn a lot when just watching them in their element. By just sitting quietly and looking at other people I’ve seen couples fight, people drag a friend who was too drunk to walk, and families simply interacting together.
Communicate with the wait staff
The chances are that your waiter or waitress is from the area. You can learn a ton of information about local spots from these people, and they are usually quite happy to talk about their city. You can get some cool stories and maybe even make a friend.
Send some e-mails
Chances are your family is expecting you to keep in touch with them. Why not take this opportunity to send a few e-mails to let them know you’re alive and well. You’re not busy walking around the city or partying with your new friends, so it’s the perfect time to take a minute to say hello.
Bring a book
Do you enjoy reading? Why not take a book along and read. Chances are you don’t get many opportunities to read while you’re trekking and sight-seeing so why not use the hour and a half to read your book.
Listen to a podcast
If you’re into podcasts, this is an excellent time to put those headphones on and listen to one of your favourites! I like this one a lot because I can drink my wine, people watch, and listen to my podcast all at once!
Eating alone is honestly a relaxing and enjoyable experience, and there is nothing shameful about it. Don’t let what you think other people could be thinking about you to affect your actions. Enjoy some local restaurants and learn more about what that culture is all about!
Comment below 🙂