Tips for Eating Alone while Travelling Solo #FromTheCornerTable

Photo of Tips for Eating Alone while Travelling Solo #FromTheCornerTable 1/1 by Rapti B

You'd wonder why there needs to be yet another article on a topic that's been done to death. I object to your 'wondering'.

There can never be enough aids to help someone get through the relatively stressful act of eating alone in a restaurant.

It's been a few years of solo travelling for me, enough not to have second thoughts when it's about gearing up for the day with a hefty breakfast or giving the legs a rest during lunchtime, ALONE. But when it comes to dinner, I still get sweaty palms and my anxiety does a rather enthusiastic tango. All of which lands me in the closest Subway or McDonald's outlet rather than that restaurant with the live band and amazing food.

I'd give the credit of being able to manage breakfast/lunch alone to my sister & bro-in-law and some wonderful servers I've met.

Avid travellers - for leisure and business - my sister and BIL often travel alone and go by the mantra: "If you want a hot meal over the cold salad in the room, brave it."

True words, right?

It's been a rare breakfast or lunch when I've been dumped at a corner table to keep the 'better spots' open for others. On lighter days, I've even had some of the staff sit down for a chat with me, helping me map the next leg of travel or even suggesting places not known by most travellers. It's the best way for an introvert to overcome nervousness and talk to strangers.

But there have been instances where the waiter has sniggered at my 'predicament', the restaurant staff has sent ill-concealed looks of pity my way or the bunch of friends at the next table have sniggered. It's disconcerting and can throw you off the exercise that is already challenging.

Luckily, the concept of dining solo is gaining popularity and familiarity so unpleasant experiences are by far, minimal.

Over the years, I've developed a system for the times when I eat out alone while travelling. Here's what I do and what you might want to try the next time the idea of eating out alone takes you to the closest Burger King. Stop... you can win this battle too!

What is it about eating alone that causes anxiety? Is it the loneliness? Is it the judgement? Is it boredom or any awkwardness? Find the reason for your anxiety to ascertain ways to deal with it.On realising it was the fear of being judged by other diners that affected me, I started carrying props to keep me occupied through the waiting period and while eating. Now, I use these props only while waiting for the food. Prep yourself for an 'eating alone' experience - research places you would enjoy eating at.

My travel research includes listing local delicacies AND places to eat. This way, I am less stressed about finding a place to eat. From the safety point of view, I am less likely to wander around and land in unsafe places. This method also allows you to avoid the couples-friendly dining places.

You do not need to head to a fine dine restaurant on day one of the 'eating alone' endeavour! Baby steps are important. Enjoy breakfast at a coffee shop or breakfast parlour. Let lunch be a takeaway, enjoyed whilst sprawled on the green of a public garden or seated on the bench of the nearest high street suited to people watching For dinner, head to another cafe.

Stock up on handy props that can distract you from anxiety and fear. Mine include: a book (hard copy or e-reader) phone loaded with games and/or eBooks a diary & pen to jot down thoughts camera to click food photos earphones for some personalised music.

The time between when I place my order and the food arrives is what I have dubbed... (to read the remaining post click here