Having traveled all over the world alone, I felt proud and confident in myself as a strong, confident woman that don't need no man *clicks fingers and flicks hair with sass*.
Travelling solo is a commendable fete. I am pretty happy in my own company and have never once felt self-conscious in how I would appear being by myself on trains and at tourist sites, so what is it about eating alone that gets our panties in a twist?
If I should find myself alone in a city where I wasn't meeting up with friends, or hadn't encountered other travellers, I would find myself walking past restaurants, peering in like a creeper at the groups of people enjoying meals and clinking their wine glasses together.
I couldn't possibly enter there alone. I envisaged the looks of "aw! That poor lonely girl" that people would give me, and I'd keep on walking. I was too horrified by the concept that I'd buy myself some fast food or snacks from the supermarket, and take them back to my airbnb to eat by myself... and let me tell you there's nothing more depressing than that.
I was studying in Naples and I knew I had to get over this. I was in the birthplace of pizza, surrounded by some of the best food in the World. I couldn't exile myself from civilisation and eat potato chips in my room in Naples! I made the leap into a busy pizzeria and... no-one looked at me with sympathy, no-one stared with concern. Quite frankly no-one looked and no-one cared I was alone, other than my self-conscious self.
Eating alone isn't something I will do by choice. I prefer to have good conversation and good company as a side dish to my food; however I will no longer hide myself in shame when I travel alone and it actually has its' perks - I have more time to enjoy and savour my food and I don't have to engage in small talk.
Here are my tips as to what I've discovered makes the experience easier:
1. Take something to occupy you whilst you're waiting between courses -- a book, a tablet, etc.
2. Weather permitting, al fresco dining is a nice option, as it allows you to people watch while you eat.
3. Treat yourself and savour the experience! Have you ever organised a dinner with friends and wanted try that quirky new Malaysian place, yet they don't want to try it? Perhaps you wanted a dessert and everyone else was stuffed? When you eat alone, you can eat precisely what you want, where you want and at your pace.
4. Let go -- who cares what other people think, you're never going to see them again afterall!