Business travel can feel like a nasty trick, almost as though you’ve been duped into working on a holiday. For many entrepreneurs, business travel means travelling alone, and that can mean eating alone.
To some people, this can seem a little lonely, as mealtimes are generally shared with loved ones. But Dawn Weir, a seasoned business traveller and head of kulula work suggests the following tips for enjoying eating alone:
Work up an appetite
Rather than channel-flipping in your hotel-room before ambling down to supper, take a dip in the hotel pool or take a run or a brisk walk. Your body will respond by secreting some endorphins, which will improve your mood.
Make it an occasion
Take a shower (remember the water restrictions if you’re in Cape Town) and put on a fresh shirt rather than ordering room-service in saggy tracksuit-pants or worse, eating huddled over your laptop.
Create your own vibe: the soundtrack in the restaurant might not be to your liking, so having a playlist on headphones that has happy memories can be a real mood-enhancer. It also creates a barrier if you’d prefer strangers to not strike up a conversation, thinking that you’re desperately lonely.
Take your time
When not making leisurely conversation with friends, colleagues or family, you might be tempted to inhale a wrap and turn in for the night. But Weir suggests that you relax and take the time to savour every bit. If you’re on a budget, treat yourself to just one good glass of wine and relish it.
Why? Eating “Al Desko” at work, or the working lunches where delegates grab snacks while having Death By PowerPoint moves us away from the pleasure of immersive eating. Even if you don’t buy into the idea of mindfulness, a conscious effort to enjoy your grub with all your senses can help uncouple you from the cares of the day.
don’t try to work while eating, but do keep a notepad and pen close at hand. You might find that the meal is a rare moment of freedom from having to listen to people or talk to them. That might just free up some space to solve that vexing problem with a supplier, client or member of your team. Jot it down before you forget it.
If you have a little time and a sense of adventure, you can explore apps like www.voulezvousdiner.com or www.eatwith.com, where selected hosts offer dinner parties, cooking classes, tastings or food tours. It’s not eating alone, but can be a good way to break out of your social circle and avoid the same FranchiseBurger that you’ve eaten so many times before. You might discover a new favourite dish.
If you’re trying to eat healthily, you might be tempted to cheat with junk-food while travelling, especially if nobody’s around to judge you. But while deep-fried, highly processed comfort-food might taste good, you’re not doing your health any favours.
Crunchy foods – think salads and fresh fruit and veggies, not crisps – stimulate the brain and can help concentration, focus and creativity. And if you’re craving fried chicken instead of crudités and hummus, you may simply need a good night’s sleep: The International Journal of Obesity reports that the more sleep-deprived you are, the more you hanker after high-carb, high-sugar foods, or those with loads of saturated fats.
Track the paperwork
If you’re eating at a hotel or guesthouse, your meal may simply be added to your bill. But if you’re paying separately you can use an app like Receipt Bank to scan and store your receipts so that they don’t fade in your wallet before you can claim them. It’s a good way to keep track of expenses.