Many business trips are solo adventures. This means that other than the get-together with the client/investor, you are by your lonesome during your downtime. This means any meals you have will also be a table for one. Some people may just order takeout or eat in their hotel room due to the stigma of solo dining. Don’t miss out on a foreign restaurant because you’re afraid of the perception of eating by yourself.
We’ll show you some ways to overcome any anxieties you may have about eating in a public space without company.
Sit at the Bar
If the restaurant has bar-style seating, then sit there instead of in a regular table. This makes it less obvious that you’re alone. Plus, you’re seated facing away from other patrons; this helps if you’re especially conscious about other patrons starring. As a bonus, if you’re eager for company, the bartender is usually more than happy to start a conversation.
Bring Reading Material
To ease your mind, bring a book, a magazine, or your Kindle. This is actually what a lot of people do when by themselves at a café. Who says you can’t do the same at a restaurant? Plus, with a reading material, you’ll be able to slowly savor your food as you transition back and forth between reading and taking small bites. As long as you’re engrossed in an activity, you won’t keep thinking whether other patrons are eyeballing you.
Use Your Personal Device
Tune out the chatter in the restaurant and put on some earphones as you watch YouTube or Netflix on your personal device. After five minutes tuned in on the program, you won’t even notice other people, who probably don’t even notice you anyways.
Alternatively, you can also engage in chatter by talking to a family member back home using Skype or Line. This is not that much different than having that person across the table from you. You may also use this time to speak to your boss to provide an update.
If using your phone in this manner – especially if your company doesn’t cover your expenses during the business travel – check out this interactive global roaming map before the trip to determine if you’ll be able to use your phone at the visiting country. If you can, be mindful of the charge rates; if you travel on a regular basis, chances are that you’re better off a with a deal provided to your needs.
Time Your Visit
Another recommendation is to stop by the restaurant during non-peak hours. This way, there’s less people, which should help you feel less apprehensive. Plus, if you drop by during peak hours, the host may be less willing to give up an entire table to a single patron.
Watch Other People
Here is an unusual albeit effective tip. If you’re worried about other people watching you, then why not be the one doing the watching? It’s actually quite fun to observe other people and take mental notes of their mannerisms. Do they look self-absorbed? Do they appear to be deep in thought? Do they look like they’re really enjoying their meal?
A business trip isn’t all about business. You have downtime, and some of that free time will be spent trying out new food. Enjoy the dining experience in a new city or country and who cares about what other people may think. Patrons are so engrossed in their own affairs that it’s hardly likely that they’re going to care about a solo foreigner sitting at a corner table.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 6 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.