Sunday, March 11, 2018

How to Avoid Eating Alone While Traveling Solo

Recently, I wrote a post about how to enjoy eating out alone. The goal of the post was to share tips and advice, drawn from years of good and bad experiences, on how to make solo dining enjoyable and easier. I like eating alone, but I know there are some people who will never learn to enjoy it. Eating alone in public is an onerous by-product of traveling solo for them. I wrote this post with those folks in mind. Here are three tips to avoid eating alone while traveling solo.

Grab carry-out

You don't have to sit in a restaurant's dining room to enjoy a great meal. Most restaurants, including many upscale eateries, offer carry-out menus these days. If you can’t bear sitting alone in a crowded dining room, order take-out and enjoy the meal anywhere that pleases you. 

If you want an opportunity to meet other people, I recommend heading for a park. There will be plenty of people around to strike up a conversation on a nice day. If the weather is lousy, find an indoor space to eat. Many hotels and office buildings have lobbies with sitting areas. Food halls or markets often have communal seating areas for customers. If you are in Washington, DC, the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery is a marvelous space to dine. 

Grabbing carry-out is a great option because you are not stuck in a dining room. You can choose where to dine and how much time you spend there. Plus, there will probably be others nearby so you may not eat alone after all.

Virtual companions

Who says your dining companions have to be physically present? Social media means you can share a good meal with friends and family from just about anywhere in the world. Using your phone to message, text, or video chat while you eat can simulate dining with others. It may seem odd at first, but it works. I exchanged messages with a couple of friends while dining solo in Las Vegas. The conversations filled the awkward time between placing my order and the food arriving. I even shared pictures of my meal with them.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there is no shame in using your cell phone as a distraction while eating out alone. Just remember to be mindful and engage with your physical surroundings from time to time. Messaging and social media apps are excellent for sharing with people back home but don't allow them to become a crutch.

Food tours

Don't want to eat alone under any circumstance? Before you resign yourself to starvation consider a food tour. They are a wonderful way to learn the history of a destination and sample local cuisine. Best of all, the other participants automatically become your dining partners.

Food tours are organized in one of two ways. A traditional tour is led by a guide with several scheduled stops at restaurants. Participants sample a few dishes before heading off to the next eatery. Along the way, the guide recounts interesting tidbits about the history, culture, and food. A Google search should return a list of food tours available at your destination. 

The second type of tour is a food event organized by a local. It can be a cooking class, a wine tasting, or a group dinner. A Google search can help you find these events or use an app. Eatwith is an app that connects locals and travelers to share a dining experience together. Food tours are the perfect way to meet other travelers, locals, and never have to dine alone. 

Whether you loathe eating out alone or just want to meet new people, use these three tips to find dining buddies wherever you go.

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