This past Saturday my mate, Claire, and I very spontaneously decided to make a trip to Cambridge: the gorgeous University city in Cambridgeshire County. And by spontaneous I mean I texted her at 11 saying I wanted to either go to the theatre or on a day trip and within an hour I was out the door with train tickets from Kings Cross, London to Cambridge station bought. It usually takes me longer to plan a trip to a coffee shop, so I was very impressed with myself. [Read more…]
London is possibly the greatest city in the world for day trips*. Whether it’s a museum or a monument, you will never go wanting for something to see or do. I know I haven’t. And while I am happy to say I have met friends here, more often than not I am taking these day trips alone. There is something to be said for the benefits of solo travel –like being able to do what you want when you want– but there are some downsides. One that I have experienced is the Pret a Manger-rut. duh duh duh.
Okay, it’s not really severe enough to warrant a melodramatic musical sequence, but it’s an affliction many solo travellers struggle with here in London.
To those of you that don’t know, Pret a Manger is an organic grab-and-go or grab-and-sit food chain in London and you literally can’t go a block without passing one in the central parts.
Why this reasonably priced and organically sourced establishment can be dangerous for us solos is it’s convenience. Maybe you have a hankering for fish and chips or you’re dying to try that old school pub you’ve read about, but you’re held back by your solo diner status. Many of these places aren’t single person friendly and I have heard of some places actually turning away solo diners as they will take up table space while not spending enough money. So alas, us single and ready to mingle with a plate of food folks are banished to a brightly lit corner of a Pret a Manger.
The Pret a Manger rut is not incurable though I am happy to say, as I have been Pret free for two months.
Here are my three tips for how to overcome it:
- Bring a book and hit the cafe
For me, the book is the most important part, as the hip coffee shops are often loaded with creative types on their laptops (as I’m currently pretending to be, sipping on a soy cappuccino in a cafe nearby my house) or pairs chatting it up. Bringing a book with you when you go on day trips gives you something to occupy yourself with when you want to kick back at a cool cafe.
- Pack a lunch and relax in a park (for the warmer days)
London has no shortage of parks, and sitting on a bench eating a nice sandwich saves you the money you would spend at a Pret on the same thing and it lets you soak up some sun. haha. See that’s funny because London is rarely sunny.
- Don’t be afraid of dining alone.
People eat out alone in London all the time. It’s not strange and really eating at somewhere more exciting than Pret a Manger is a much better way to spend your money. As Shia Leboeuf would say: just do it.
*my frame of reference for this is very small.