What is the biggest thing stopping you from indulging your fantasies of solo travel?
If you’re like a lot of people out there, you’re afraid of solo travel because you’re afraid of feeling lonely, and because you’re afraid of feeling awkward.
If you travel solo, you’ll have to do things like go out to dinner alone, go to museums alone, and engage in all sorts of activities that you’d normally do with a partner.
Solo travel is awesome for so many reasons, but namely because when you travel solo, you end up getting know a really incredible travel partner that you’ve probably been ignoring for years – you.
But you won’t realize that until you’re on the road, and my job is to help you get on the road already.
If you’re like Karen, one of my VIP coaching clients, the fear of eating alone is enough to make you scrap the whole trip altogether.
It’s sort of like not writing a novel because you’re a bad speller.
With that in mind, here is your handy dandy “spell checker” for eating alone in restaurants when you travel solo.
1. Use your phone or bring a book
Your smartphone can serve as your dinner companion if you’re terrified of simply sitting at a table with no one to talk to. A book serves the same purpose.
In those awkward moments before your meal arrives, you can connect with friends and family on Facebook or dive into your favorite novel. This will keep you feeling connected and less lonely while eating alone.
2. Chat with the waitstaff
Almost every single one of my friendships with locals has begun in a restaurant.
Chat with your waiter or waitress – they’re friendly and they’ll have fantastic stories for you about where they come from and what life is like for them.
Then, go back to that same restaurant or café every day. Before long they’ll remember your name, and each time you return you’ll feel like you’re going to visit friends (which you are.)
Awkwardness = crushed.
I hate to break it to you, but no one is looking at you and thinking “Oh how sad and pathetic, that woman is all alone, it must be because no one loves her and she tried really hard but just couldn’t get someone to join her for dinner.”
I promise no one is thinking that. (And if they are thinking that, they’re dicks and you wouldn’t want them in your life anyway.)
Because people aren’t thinking about you, they’re thinking about themselves.
If they are thinking about you, they’re most likely wondering what that confident, independent woman eating alone thinks about them as they sit with their significant other, envying you your freedom.
4. Have a cocktail
There’s nothing more romantic than a mysterious woman sitting by herself in an exotic location sipping a cocktail and watching the world go by. It’s pure sex on a stick. You must try it.
(Wine works too, but so does some kind of delectable coffee or tea concoction. Anything that comes in a fun glass. Milkshakes count.)
As in, don’t eat alone.
During solo travel you never really have to eat alone unless you choose too.
I enjoy eating alone because I like to actually taste my food and enjoy the sensory experience of eating, but also because I’ve come to enjoy my own company.
I don’t have to be involved in a conversation every second of the day because I’m not trying to cover up some uncomfortable pain that I haven’t yet dealt with.
When you travel solo, you’ll get to that point to, but until you do, try eating with strangers.
I’ve already written about this phenomenon, but when you dine alone in a foreign country, people tend to invite you to eat with them. It’s happened to me countless times, and it will happen to you too.
In addition to invitations to join someone’s table, I’ve had countless people approach and ask to sit with me. And I’ve always said yes.
Which means that you can feel free to approach people and ask to join them.
You might say “Hi, I’m so-and-so, I’m from XYZ country, do you mind if I join you?”
People will say yes because people are terrified of appearing rude. Then you’ll charm them with your sparkling personality and everyone will be glad you were brave enough to break the ice.
The fear of solo travel is all the more reason to choose solo travel.
If you’re uncomfortable eating alone, going to the movies alone, or traveling alone, know that you’re not alone.
Most people are scared of the same things, which is why it’s rare to see people eating in restaurants alone, which is why you think you should feel awkward about it.
But here’s what’s actually going on – if you’re scared to eat alone, it’s means you’re either
a) terrified of what others think of you, or
b) terrified to be alone with yourself and your thoughts
In either case, the remedy is to launch yourself into solo travel headfirst, watch the discomfort as it arises, and begin to ask yourself questions like “Why on earth do I care if a couple from Germany who I’ll never see again thinks it’s sad I’m eating alone?”
When you choose solo travel and eat alone, you make a statement to the world and to yourself that says “I am enough.”
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1. Use your phone or bring a book.
2. Chat with the waitstaff.
4. Have a cocktail and be mysterious.
5. Don't eat alone - ask to join someone's else's table or say "yes" when someone asks to join your table.
Want to dig deeper? Go for it!