Eating Alone When Traveling For Business

I have been really lucky this week while working in Flushing, New York. The engineers and operators that I have been working with have taken me out to breakfast and lunch every day. Normally when I'm traveling for work, I spend a lot of time eating alone. This is something that I have really had accept to get myself out of the hotel, to stop ordering room service and to do comfortably.

It all started when I worked with my previous company eight years ago. I traveled 2-3 weeks out of the month to various clients. Normally I would be gone for an entire week. That meant a lot of meals out and a lot of eating by myself when the station wasn't up to taking me out or if I didn't know anyone in town. On my first couple of trips alone, I would eat at restaurants with bars. I would sit at the bar and chat it up with the bartender, if I could. As I got more comfortable with it, I would take a book with me to the bar. I would sit there, order a drink or two while reading my book and then have dinner.

Once I was comfortable sitting at a bar by myself, I moved to booths. This is key. Having a seat in a booth makes me feel more secluded and not feel like an eye-sore. If I get stuck at a table in the middle of a wide-open restaurant, I feel really awkward, even after all this time. I always try to ask for a table in a corner or on the side of the room. If the only table available is one smack in the middle of the restaurant, I'll still sit there but I won't be all that happy about it. I'll probably shove my nose deep down in a book and act like a 2 year old playing peek-a-boo (if I can't see you, you can't see me)!!

If I wasn't big into reading, I think eating alone would have been a lot harder for me. I don't sit still in silence very easily. I like to have something to occupy my time, at all times, whether it be another person, a book, a TV, my phone or computer. If I wasn't into reading, I probably would never have moved from the bar to a booth. At least at the bar, there are normally TV's to take your mind off of the fact that you are eating alone.

This week, while staying in Flushing, I went to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner on Monday and Wednesday nights. They asked me where I would like to sit. I looked around and there were some booths on the far wall of the restaurant. Not only were these booths, but they had fabric panel dividers that my waiter pulled down so it really was just a little nook to curl up in. There were even pillows on the booth seats! I felt very "safe" if you will, tucked into my personal corner where really only the waiter could find me.

Here's a photo montage of last night's dinner in Flushing.

Sorry the photos are so dark, I don't have any good editing tools on this computer and I was trying out different settings on my camera so I wouldn't have to use a flash (thus drawing attention to myself).

Laughing at myself, taking pictures when the waiters weren't looking. 
While eating out alone has gotten easier, it will never be something I am truly comfortable with. The positive side of things is that in the 8 years I have been traveling by myself, I have found servers at restaurants seem to have become more used to a woman walking into a restaurant by herself. The most awkward meals I have ever walked into were the ones where the host or waiter did not handle the fact that I was a party of 1 well. I have just learned to deal with that and know that they may not understand that some women travel alone. And it is totally OK!
Table for One, please.

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