Sometimes you just want to grab your favorite cold-brewed coffee or lunch at a hip restaurant, but it seems that everybody else is busy. As soon as you discover there’s no one to keep you company, you drop the idea. How many cool places have you missed visiting because of this?! Yeah, the idea of sitting alone at a table surrounded by couples or groups of friends might seem dreadful, but it doesn’t have to be.
I traveled solo through Italy last year. Because nobody around me had the time or money, I decided to go alone. It meant spending a lot of time on my own: sightseeing, walking and exploring all by myself. I even ate alone.
Realizing this caught me off guard. Eating alone?! I’m not really a fan of going to a restaurant alone—in fact, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever even done it before. Heck, I don’t even like to go for a coffee alone. Grabbing some Starbucks to-go is fine, but you don’t go to Italy to have Starbucks. And when you go to Italy, you want to eat as much pasta and pizza as possible!
So, I ended up having a lunch at a restaurant every day, alone. In the beginning those lunches were quiet and I didn’t feel very comfortable, but later on, those were the favorite parts of my day. How can that happen to you, too? Probably the easiest thing to do in the beginning is make yourself busy. When you’re so absorbed in what you do, you won’t even think about how strange it is.
Coffee shops have turned into offices for freelancers and people who work from home, and not just a place for friends to have a chat. If a portion of your job can be done from home, you can go to a nearby coffee shop and work there—that is, if you don’t mind the buzzing sound of other people talking.
If you’re one of those people who always has a novel or a Kindle in your purse, read a book. I’ve always thought people who come to a coffee place to read look a bit romantic and mysterious.
Journal or sketch
If you keep a notebook with you all the time, use it at the coffee counter or at a table for one. Jot down your thoughts, try and draw the couple at the next table or your view through the window.
Catch up with news
Coffee shops often offer a range of newspapers and magazines, so even if you don’t have anything with you to keep you busy, you can catch up with all the latest news and/or gossip.
Just do nothing
This is the advanced level. In the beginning, a lot of people tend to feel uncomfortable if they have nothing to do and are on their own. But once you get used to yourself and a book/magazine, it’ll be easier to transition to just you and the coffee. This is also the best way to dine solo in a restaurant, too, as it’s a bit clumsy to switch between your laptop and a steak.
Other things you could do: write postcards, if you’re somewhere abroad. Catch up with your email and social media. But most importantly, take in the moment: Enjoy being there all alone. Watch people around you and when you see someone sitting at a table alone, think: “oh wow, how cool,” instead of “oh, poor her/him.”