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toby25
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Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:48 am

Hello All,

I know this should not bother me but it does. I am lucky that I get to travel for my work. This year it has exploded and I have gone from no status with CX since January this year to being a Sapphire member today in the space of 10 months. One of the joys of the travelling is sight seeing and immersing yourself in the local culture which includes the food. Therein lies my issue: eating alone. I travel solo and I don't want to intrude on my local colleagues who have their own lives out of work so I am constantly eating for one.

Does anyone have any tips or hints from similar solo business travellers? I just feel when I sit down everyone is looking at me thinking the poor sod without any friends lol. Sometimes there is a restaurant I really want to try out but it's busy and I then shy away from entering. I try to avoid the high street lurking out side streets thinking it will be quieter.

I don't really want to do work after hours and looking at my phone is just so common. When I was in Houston I went to the Cheesecake factory and I just felt like I was at the zoo with everybody looking and staring (they probably weren't!). Was in Budapest and Prague last week and I so wanted to go inside this local Hungarian restaurant but ended walking around and buying a sandwich from a convenience store eating in my room. I am so sad ;(

Any tips?
Thanks
Toby
Seriously dude! I swear!
 
BestWestern
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 10:02 am

Sounds so familiar - I travel three weeks a month and the glamour of hotel and restaurant dining goes after a few years - I love trying little local food stalls and small places to have dinner in. Jet lag usually means that you are eating when you are tired so you don't enjoy as much anyway.

I was in Indonesia last night week and had fantastic Rendang from a small mom and pop place recommended by the hotel concierge. If you ask for something local and not chain - you get a real experience of the city. I love Korean charcoal Bbq which you can't get in HK due to building regulations- so often find one of those.

A lot Of the cities I work in are resorts - which is even more weird - alone at breakfast surrounded by holiday makers, or the only one on the flight wearing a suit!

Sometimes the older hotels have really good dining options - the newer places are boring and formulaic.

One more tip - put down the phone and absorb the city around you.

In the US rent a car and head out of the city to towns - I had fried green tomatoes at the whistlestop cafe south of Atlanta on one trip. That was a local experience.
Greetings from Hong Kong.... a subsidiary of China Inc.
 
tommy1808
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:04 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
Any tips?

i just stop the first person friendly looking person in the street when i step out of the hotel for dinner suggestions, and usually ask if i can invite her for dinner as way of thanks.
Actually made quite a few friends that way and sometimes, especially in Asia, i don´t even get to pay. I make that up with cocktails later....

best regards
Thomas
Well, there is prophecy in the bible after all: 2 Timothy 3:1-6
 
BestWestern
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:28 pm

Many Hotel chains have a 'meet the manager' events on Wednesday evenings - it's a good way to meet other solo travellers.
Greetings from Hong Kong.... a subsidiary of China Inc.
 
andrej
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 5:56 pm

Tobby,

whenever out/away I usually look at the TripAdvisor, which has saved me a lot of times. I want to try something good, local, and not overpriced tourist traps.

I never thought of Thomas' approach!   Sounds like a good plan.

Finally, if you have a business trip to Bratislava (fat chance?), then hit me up. I will show you around our 'little big city', and recommend good places to eat.   The best way to enjoy foreign place is with locals.

Cheers,

Andrej
 
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ER757
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:15 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
I just feel when I sit down everyone is looking at me thinking the poor sod without any friends lol.

I got past this pretty quickly by telling myself "who cares what these people may think? I will never see any of them again in my entire life" and go on and enjoy my dining experience.
 
tommy1808
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:55 pm

Quoting ER757 (Reply 5):
I will never see any of them again in my entire life" and

Well, I have a Romanian friend. I met her first in 2011... So I thought. She showed me pictures of her NYC trip in 2009, what a coincidence, we, my then gf and i, have been there at the same time.
She had a picture of time square that was pretty much exactly the same I have. Almost identical perspective, same people in the picture, same ads on the LED walls... we must have been standing pretty much next to each other when we took our respective pictures a split second appart (there was a guy standing up in the picture and he was just a little more "up" in mine).

SO...never say never.....

Best regards
Thomas

[Edited 2015-10-10 12:58:42]
Well, there is prophecy in the bible after all: 2 Timothy 3:1-6
 
gocaps16
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 8:33 pm

I don't see the problem eating alone. Everyone at least once I'm sure has eaten alone in public before. Hell, I ate alone at a restaurant near Washington-Dulles Airport as I didn't want to eat in the hotel and I was starving. I personally couldn't care less if people are staring at me. Every human has to eat. I recently read in the news a teenage girl had a phobia of the toilet and she held her feces inside her for years and died because of that. Was it true? I dunno, but I have a hard time believing that. A bunch of local restaurants I frequent in Japan and other Asian countries, I see a bunch of businesswomen/men eating solo. Like I said, I couldn't care less. The western countries are waaaay different then being in Asia and too many americans are so nosy. I'm a US citizen but was born in Asia from a military family.
 
DLFREEBIRD
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:14 pm

I like mom and pop places plus for some reason the owners naturally gravitate towards people who are by themselves. Part of their hospitality training I suspect.

big cities like NY, and Chicago, i book city night life tours on my days off. Where there is entertainment and food. They usually take you to interesting restaurants with excellent food. You tend to meet other professionals. doing the same thing as you.

I'm certainly not going to hide in my room and order room service I only do that when i'm to tired to leave the room. which is happening more often than i like to admit.
 
VapourTrails
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:36 pm

I do this, but not a lot. If I really want to try a restaurant, I will. I also see other people eating alone. Sometimes it can be an opportunity to talk to other people maybe, rather than just socialising at your own table.

At least on your own too, you can leave when you are ready.

How I feel depends on the circumstance or my mood at the time. When you are away from home nobody knows you and would care anyway, as in, make a personal judgement etc.

If I choose not to eat out, I can say, well, I was tired and I didn't feel like it so not letting anyone down by not going! Then I can eat in my room or get take away etc. Not that one needs to validate the decision!

If you get out and about and do things in general, just by yourself, you get used to it and it becomes the norm. I get the impression that this is becoming more commonplace.

I also use TripAdvisor, as mentioned.

=
 
chrisair
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:48 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
Does anyone have any tips or hints from similar solo business travellers? I just feel when I sit down everyone is looking at me thinking the poor sod without any friends lol.

I spend about 45 weeks a year on the road, and for the most part I'm traveling solo. Occasionally I have that "oh god, everyone is staring at me" feeling, but I try not to let it get to me.

I tend to gravitate towards the bar of a restaurant when I'm alone. Mainly because I can watch whatever sports are on, and you usually end up chatting with some interesting folks. If I'm in Canada, I usually get suckered into a hockey conversation with the bartender or people next to me--that's how I ended up watching the 2014 gold medal hockey game in some stranger's living room in Vancouver.

I tend to hit the same cities multiple times a year, so I end up stumbling into lots of little places. If there's time, I always try to see a local sight. Looks like I'm in the minority, but I use yelp religiously to find restaurants.
 
coolian2
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:56 pm

I used to always eat alone due to the nature of my job.

Nobody cared. I didn't. I grant now I always have an eating partner but at the time it was taking care of a need.
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threeifbyair
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 11, 2015 8:39 pm

Quoting chrisair (Reply 10):
I tend to gravitate towards the bar of a restaurant when I'm alone. Mainly because I can watch whatever sports are on, and you usually end up chatting with some interesting folks. If I'm in Canada, I usually get suckered into a hockey conversation with the bartender or people next to me--that's how I ended up watching the 2014 gold medal hockey game in some stranger's living room in Vancouver.

+1 on the bar. I'm on my own about 25% of the time I'm traveling for work. I've found that lots of fairly nice restaurants have bars that either serve the full restaurant menu or a pretty good selection of it. And, for expense reporting purposes, you get a receipt that says "Classy Restaurant" regardless of where you're sitting.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:31 pm

I've never felt anyone was watching me any time I've eaten alone in a restaurant. People eat alone all the time, so I don't know why anyone would even notice. People are usually to absorbed in themselves to even care about anyone eating alone.

You need to stop thinking that it's unusual or strange, then you'll get over it.
 
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n229nw
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:39 pm

Quoting ER757 (Reply 5):
I got past this pretty quickly by telling myself "who cares what these people may think? I will never see any of them again in my entire life" and go on and enjoy my dining experience.

This...and if you do see them again, they don't care. They might be admiring you for being secure as much as thinking you have no friends. And who cares?

If I'm traveling alone, I do it all the time--and occasionally even if I'm not traveling but am passing a restaurant I want to try at the right time.

I really don't feel awkward at all. The only downside is not being able to try as much from the menu as you can if you go with others and get to share or sample different dishes.

Make the server think you are a food critic, you might even get an extra-good meal.   
Ok, I admit, I've never tried that, on purpose at least.
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Kiwirob
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:41 am

Yup I know what you mean, if I'm eating alone I usually take a magazine or book with me, I'm not phased by people looking, they don't and if they do so what, there's plenty of business people doing the same all over the world, a person eating alone isn't that unusal.

If I'm going to a place which has take out i'll take it back to my room and watch whilst watching netflix, or browsing the internet.

Quoting BestWestern (Reply 1):
the only one on the flight wearing a suit!

I really dislike wearing a suit on a flight, I don't know who people do it. Lucky for me we always get a travel day so I don't start with the suit until the morning after.
 
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mad99
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:20 am

Quoting kiwirob (Reply 15):
I usually take a magazine or book with me

this is what i do
Or just checking things out on the phone
 
toby25
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 1:23 pm

Thanks all,

I'm going to grow some bigger balls and to hell with people looking at me lol.

Eating at the bar and bringing a book sounds like a super plan. OK Budapest I'm going to eat wherever the hell I want to ;p

Toby
Seriously dude! I swear!
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:06 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
Does anyone have any tips or hints from similar solo business travellers? I just feel when I sit down everyone is looking at me thinking the poor sod without any friends lol. Sometimes there is a restaurant I really want to try out but it's busy and I then shy away from entering. I try to avoid the high street lurking out side streets thinking it will be quieter.

I find talking to nearby women is a great cure to everything you described - and can lead to an even more memorable trip. 
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photopilot
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:06 pm

I travel alone for both business and pleasure and don't have any issues with eating alone. Like others I take a book or magazine or sometimes just enjoy "people watching".

One issue however is that most restaurants have one or two tables that are in somewhat less than desirable locations. Buried in a corner, beside the kitchen/bathroom door, etc. I won't let them seat me there, which they often try to do to solo diners.
 
victrola
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:40 pm

I have never felt strange about eating alone. To me it's no big deal and I have no idea if people are looking at me and thinking "poor guy". I travel often and always go out and look for someplace interesting to eat. Being alone never really bothers me.
 
blueflyer
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:47 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
Does anyone have any tips or hints from similar solo business travellers? I just feel when I sit down everyone is looking at me thinking the poor sod without any friends

Besides the excellent tips mentioned above, I'd add talk to the concierge. You won't be the first or only one that day. They'll send you places where solo dinners are so common they hardly get a glance. If the concierge offers to call ahead for you, absolutely let them. Some restaurants really value the referrals and will go the extra mile, even for a solo traveler (eating at the chef's table with the chef being one of my experiences).

Quoting BestWestern (Reply 1):
alone at breakfast surrounded by holiday makers, or the only one on the flight wearing a suit!

I worked on a contract with a mousy company where my employer insisted that corporate policies be adhered to. Suit and tie the whole day... Wherever I went to eat, I might as well have been one of the costumed characters that show up from time to time.
 
andz
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:54 pm

Quoting chrisair (Reply 10):
I spend about 45 weeks a year on the road, and for the most part I'm traveling solo.

That is hectic, I can't imagine that.

I don't travel nearly that much but if I am in Egypt I stick to room service. Anywhere else I travel I venture out and explore.
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Ken777
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:21 pm

I generally would take a book with e when eating alone (or a digital version) and was comfortable with that.

Looking back I did miss out on something that would have been enjoyable - checking local theater performances for road shows. While some may be "sold out" there may well be a single ticket that you can get cheap. Some places (like NYC) will have discount booths.

Shows on the road these days? Kinky Boots is high on the list, as is the Book Of Mormon. Both are worth a fast, cheap dinner and heading to the theater. Jersey Boys is back on the road also, as is The Buddy Holly Story.

Here is one link to musicals on the road in the US:

http://www.broadwayworld.com/shows/shows.php?page=tour

If one is in town and close to your hotel then it's a great alternative. Now I'm kicking myself for missing shows like these while traveling.
 
N1120A
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:51 pm

I travel ~ 250,000 miles a year. Part is personal, part is for work, and all involves eating alone from time to time. There are a few ways to deal with this.

1) Make friends from A.net, TravBuddy, Meet Up, General Life, etc. The more you travel, the more people you meet and the more places you have to hang out with someone.

2) When you are eating alone, use similar tactics to what you would in an airport. Eat in places like gastropubs and restaurants that have comfy seats that allow for privacy. The former usually have lively bars to eat at, or those fun high tables, and you can meet some cool people. The latter allow you to decompress a bit and not feel self-conscious about being alone.

3) Research restaurants ahead of time and see if they work well for solos. If you have discretion over hotels, consider picking ones that have good restaurants. Hotel restaurants are nearly always set up to cater well to solos.
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JAGflyer
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:39 am

While travelling for work you're in a strange city or country. I just think like this, nobody knows who I am and I don't give much care to what they think. I'll never see them again so I really could care less. Locally around town, I tend to not eat alone at restaurants where table-service is offered however for fast-food I have no issue eating alone (and I do quite regularly). In the end, you just have to learn to not give any though to people who might look at you or what their thoughts may be. Enjoy your meal and leave.
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Aaron747
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:02 am

Quoting Jagflyer (Reply 25):

The never seeing people again part is precisely why it's great to chat up an interesting woman who might be game for a good time.  
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AR385
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:54 am

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
? I just feel when I sit down everyone is looking at me thinking the poor sod without any friends lol.

Nobody, believe me, is looking at you. People are minding their own business and are too focused on their own day, really. However what you feel is common. You will get used to it.

Quoting toby25 (Reply 17):
Eating at the bar and bringing a book sounds like a super plan.

This is a good plan. But keep in mind the following: In certain cities that shall remain nameless, if you are alone on a bar and appear like a business executive from out of town, you can be a target for certain type of criminals. Pickpockets, scam artists etc. Exercise your common sense. If a beautiful woman sits next to you and starts flirting...well. You know what is going on. Maybe typical but you´ll be surprised how many fall for it.

Travelling alone you should worry more about those things than being self conscious. That will disappear in time, trust me.  
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Wed Oct 14, 2015 4:16 am

Quoting AR385 (Reply 27):
If a beautiful woman sits next to you and starts flirting...well. You know what is going on. Maybe typical but you´ll be surprised how many fall for it.

Yes, that's a classic warning sign, especially over in this part of the world, where normal women prefer to be approached, not the other way around.
If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
 
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mariner
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:26 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):
Was in Budapest and Prague last week and I so wanted to go inside this local Hungarian restaurant but ended walking around and buying a sandwich from a convenience store eating in my room.

Just do it. The restaurant will immediately know you're "foreign" and hey, your money is as good as anyone else's. Self-esteem has a lot to do with it, but many restaurants are well aware of people in your situation.

Ask the concierge or at the front desk of your hotel. They know all the good places to eat and they'll call to make a booking and explain that it's just for one and they can sometimes get a table at restaurants that might look full. You may have some trouble getting into the trendy hot spots, but a lot of places will be pleased to take your money and my small ("boutique") hotel in London was able to get me a table - for one - at the hottest restaurant in town, they knew the owners.

A decent hotel will also know the restaurants that aren't trendy, but still serve darn good food, that are happy to have your business.

My hotel in Budapest, knowing I am a writer, told me about a terrific place, a writers club, which was hangover from the Soviet days, and felt like it. They didn't think it odd that I, foreigner, wanted to eat there alone and I felt as if I stepped back in time. The food was very old fashioned, but wonderful. It wasn't busy and small groups of people in two and three were sitting huddled at other tables looking as if they were plotting a revolution. Eventually, someone came over and invited me to join them for coffee. They weren't plotting a revolution, just discussing the state of the world, and mostly they wanted to practise - or show off - their English.

Your hotel will always know more than you do.  

mariner
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Pellegrine
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:48 am

I go to restaurants alone a lot, even when I'm at home. Just eat at the bar (even if you're not drinking alcohol). It's not awkward, just be social with other people at the bar.

If I sit at a table alone, I bring something else to do like iPad, newspaper, magazine, journal...don't be lonely, and you won't be.

Besides, being single going out is always the best way to meet people.
We fly JETS, we don't fly donkeys. Citizenship/Residence::: Washington DC, US; Vaud, CH; Providenciales, TCI (hence my avi)
 
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Kiwirob
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Thu Oct 15, 2015 6:48 am

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 21):
I worked on a contract with a mousy company where my employer insisted that corporate policies be adhered to. Suit and tie the whole day

Buggar that when you're travelling you should be able to dress how you like for breakfast and diner, unless you're with clients, then suit and tie is the rule. Luckily Norwegian companies are more casual, a button down shirt, blaser and jeans are more than ok for almost any business meeting.

Quoting AR385 (Reply 27):
If a beautiful woman sits next to you and starts flirting...well. You know what is going on. Maybe typical but you´ll be surprised how many fall for it.

Very common in Russia, a lot of these women are pretty smart with good conversation skills, great for killing time, but you'd be a fool if you didn't know what was going on.
 
N1120A
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Fri Oct 16, 2015 6:48 pm

Smart phones make this easier too.
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FlyKev
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 17, 2015 4:44 pm

Spent 3 weeks in Dubai on business on my own; found at times its great - the weekends were particularly an all expenses paid vacation: however like has been said eating out is the loneliest thing going. Personally I used to just take my tablet and browse the internet. Not the most exciting but it got me by.

Kev.
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jamincan
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 18, 2015 12:40 am

Keep in mind that lots of people travel alone for business. You're hardly the first person to be eating in a restaurant by yourself. I bring my e-reader and take the opportunity to get some reading done and take a break from work-related stuff.
 
wingman
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sun Oct 18, 2015 3:58 pm

Quoting chrisair (Reply 10):
I tend to gravitate towards the bar of a restaurant when I'm alone. Mainly because I can watch whatever sports are on, and you usually end up chatting with some interesting folks.

+7 at this point in the thread. Always my choice, and especially if the bartender is a local and dedicated to his or her craft (knowing how to chat up the customer, and how to make drinks of course). No better way to get the vibe of the city and set your list of things to do the next day.

Next time you're in Seoul try this whether alone or with a group:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...ommunications_Day_Tours-Seoul.html

This was a highlight of my last visit and focuses as much on drinking as eating. Then again this is one of my top 5 favorite cities right now so very hard to go wrong. No tolerance for vegetarians here.
 
RussianJet
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:27 pm

Definitely no big deal eating alone sometimes - screw what anyone else in the restaurant thinks (which is probably nothing anyway!).

As others have said, occasions where you go to restaurants and bars alone can be great fun in the end. Just talk to people. Even if you don't, we all need to eat and I think most normal people realise that.
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txjim
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:49 pm

Obligatory link to Steve Martin clip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ7CNUuoe3E
 
Georgetown
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Tue Oct 20, 2015 6:10 pm

I'll add to the chorus of eating at the bar. Nearly everywhere in any city of size in the States the bar serves the full menu and usually has a bartender great at keeping the conversation going if you choose. The very best are usually great at introducing folks. I always find it to be way less awkward then the "table for one"; granted, I am the type that can get a bit self conscious about that. Hats off to people that have no qualms about it.

Places like P.J. Clarke's or Wollensky's Grill in NY get a great mix of regulars as well as people from all over the world and the bartenders are top flight.

Same goes for the Old Ebbitt in DC and Original Joe's and Perry's on Union in SF

(These are just places I often find myself. If you stop in, I'll have a drink waiting for you!)
Let's go Hoyas!
 
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Pellegrine
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:37 am

I have no qualms at all. If you're in DC give me a ring and I'd show you the most fab places in town. I guess what could be awkward is a "table for one" on Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights. But not for me, probably because I don't give AF about what people think of me.

Another aspect for me was, I used to be an amateur foodie reporter, so I would actually chronicle the food and the service given to me as a single patron.
We fly JETS, we don't fly donkeys. Citizenship/Residence::: Washington DC, US; Vaud, CH; Providenciales, TCI (hence my avi)
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 24, 2015 5:59 pm

Was in town today and treated myself to lunch in a (nice!) new restaurant when I remembered this thread. So I began looking around, and as I suspected, the people at the handful of other tables occupied were too busy chatting to even notice I was there, let alone eating alone. It really is a non-issue. Nobody else is interested.

And the chicken wings, salad, chunky chips and glass of wine were all delicious.   

The only thing about eating alone is that you don't stay as long as when you've someone to talk to. And you probably drink less.  
 
DDR
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RE: Eating Alone On Business Trips

Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:31 pm

Quoting toby25 (Thread starter):

Don't forget too, some of those people at other tables are probably jealous of you. They probably wish they were eating alone too. LOL

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