I’ve been in Bangkok for a whole day and all I’ve eaten are the leftover snacks from my flight. I’m so hungry, but I’m scared to eat alone at a restaurant. I almost did, earlier today. I decided enough was enough and walked into a local place, round the corner from my Airbnb. I stood in the doorway waiting to be seated. Is that what you’re even supposed to do here? As I stood there I noticed people starting to stare at me. Families, couples, friends…no one was alone….except me. Why were they staring? Could they hear my stomach gargling? It felt like they were secretly laughing at me. Look at the poor lonely foreign girl with no one to love her! The longer I stood there, the hotter I felt my face becoming. I stood there for what felt like an hour! A waitress came over to me and said in her loudest possible voice, ‘TABLE FOR ONE?!’ Great! How about I just give you a microphone, because the people in the back didn’t quite hear you?! My heart was thumping in my chest and my face was no doubt lit up scarlet red. Then I did the most ridiculous thing…I said ‘No, I’m good thanks’ and walked out! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME? So, here I am, sat with a bag of Lays from the 7 Eleven like an absolute chump.
You’re not an idiot! Surely lots of people feel the same way, especially when they are on the road alone for the first time. In most western countries people are not used to going to a restaurant alone. However, if you are travelling alone, there is often no other choice if you don’t want to just eat chips.
Depending on where you travel people will look at you anyway, whether you eat alone or not. Especially in less touristic regions, where it is unusual to see outsiders. But you don’t have to be afraid that they will laugh at you, on the contrary, you are probably the most interesting thing they have seen in a long time and therefore they might look at you for a moment too long. Take it as a compliment, you are the star!
If you still feel strange or are afraid to eat alone, you can simply practice before. Why don’t you just go out to eat alone in your own town to get used to it? If the challenge is too big, start with a coffee, a snack and then dinner.
You can also use your time in the restaurant to write a diary or postcards, or to read a book to distract yourself from the looks of others.
Believe me, once you get used to being alone, you will really enjoy this time on your own.