Solo Travel Tips: Eating Alone.
“How do you eat alone? is a common anxiety-stricken question I hear from solo travel hopefuls. The questions poses their reluctance for traveling solo. Some people feel anxious and self-conscious about eating alone; they don’t want to be seen as “a loner”. Other people feel awkward because they don’t feel like it’s socially acceptable for them to eat in a restaurant alone.
Top 5 travel survival tips for eating alone
There are a lot of things I do alone in my life, and if I want to get those things done, then I have to bear the uncomfortable task of confronting myself …and my fears.
But fear not. There are many ways to keep yourself occupied when you’re eating alone and after I share these tips you might feel a little differently about it, if you were reluctant.
1. Accept the Sad Truth
First, you have to realize that you’re not as interesting as you think you are. Unless you’re drop-dead gorgeous or Angelina Jolie, there’s a large possibility that if you’re in a crowded restaurant you will probably not stand out. In fact, you might actually get forgotten.
Solo people can be less noticeable. That is because eyes are constantly attracted to activity– people talking, conversations, laughing, all draws your attention. I don’t really notice solo travelers, unless I’m looking for a potential conversation or dinner partner to join!
Most times, people are either involved in their food, in the conversation with family/friends or people watching. Unless you make a concerted effort to stand out, you might blend with the wallpaper.
Imagine if you’re filming yourself and talking to yourself while you’re eating alone (like me!). That’s more awkward!
2. People watching
People watching is a favorite past time, when I’m eating alone. People are interesting~ from the way they dress, interactions on the street, maybe you choose a table outside so that you can watch people on the sidewalk. People watching can be very entertaining as you’re observing the local environment and how it operates; it’s like having your own television set ! I see it as kind of a cultural experience.
Bring a book with you. More importantly, bring a guidebook with you, so that you can brush up on your sightseeing, landmark history, potential restaurants you want to hit in the future or activities that you hadn’t really thought of.
I also like to use that time to mentally process my itinerary route and the next steps I need to take. Sometimes I like to play on my mobile phone or photograph my food!
I like to maximize my time, so I use that time to both, observe my environment, help me on my journey or collect more ideas for my journey.
4. Practice Zen
Revel in your downtime, enjoy the moment, feel comfortable in your own skin. I like to reflect on what I’ve already seen, allowing myself time to process things.
I was having breakfast in Yangon early in the morning. I was by myself and I saw a stream of barefoot baby monks collecting alms through the streets. What a wonderful experience! I was reveling in that moment, feeling awe, proud with myself for having brought myself this far to see it. It prompted many questions about what kind of lives these monks must lead and the questions grew my curiosity. Then, a fellow traveler came up and sat right in front of me and began to talk, one endless monologue! It completely broke my spell. It ruined my peaceful moment and self reflection.
Sometimes we need that moment to process the environment and let it sink in so that we can enjoy it more, savor it. When you’re traveling with other people, you don’t have that downtime in your head to process things, congratulate yourself, think deeper about the country and the culture. When I’m splitting my time between a travel partner and the country, my time with the country does not feel as satisfying. I could not give it my 100% focus or commitment. I did not have enough time to get all my curiosities met.
When I travel solo, I’m romancing the country. I’m not trying to romance a travel partner. I cherish my moments of peace and calm.
5. Eat street food
Street food is one of my favorite eat-on-the-run ideas. It also takes the pressure or burden off me when I think about eating at restaurants. Comparatively, restaurants can feel like a big affair with an elaborate process. You have to wait in line to be seated, …the waiter gives you a menu to order, …you have to wait for your food and later, you wonder about how much to tip the waiter. All these things make the restaurant experience feel like a prom date process.
With street food, it’s a no-fuss experience. You get maybe, a one page menu, you order off a chalk board or maybe just point at what you want. But the food is there, direct like fast food, you’re helping the local economy (and small business/vendor) and you get a culturally enriching experience. It’s often the cheaper option as well.
Do not fear eating alone. Embrace it! What are some of your solo travel tips for eating alone?
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