31 Days

Day 18

Go Solo
(Now and Then)

Words by Cory Ohlendorf

The indulgent pleasure of traveling alone first occurred to me on a business trip to New York one not-so-steamy August years ago. I had a day to kill by myself, and I didn't really know what the hell to do. The weather was warm, but not stifling, so I started walking around. One neighborhood lead to the next, and whenever I strolled past a shop that looked interesting, I popped in.

Joaquin Phoenix in the movie Her.

Joaquin Phoenix flies solo in the movie Her.

When my aimless walking led me past a particularly tasty-smelling Asian restaurant, I knew it was time to stop for dinner. I didn't have to ask anyone what they felt like eating, or if this place looked good, I just went in and ordered an ice cold beer to go with my spicy noodles. Later, I discovered that bartenders at hip hotels are always clued into what you should be checking out while in town.

Since then, I've reveled in going it alone. Not all the time, of course. I enjoy spending time with my friends and loved ones. But sometimes, a solo experience really suits me. And I think it'd suit you too. Whether traveling or at home, there are times when a man should embrace his inner introvert and lean into the JOMO (that's, Joy Of Missing Out). Take yourself to that museum you've been wanting to see, out to dinner, to a bad movie or even a quick weekend trip by yourself. Because when you're by yourself, any wild whim or seemingly ridiculous idea is yours to follow.

You know how your friends say "oh, we have to try this new place," but you never actually get around to going—because of schedule conflicts or simply because we tend to go to our usual places again and again? Now, you can just go on your own. That way, you'll be the first person to recommend it. Experience, they say, makes you an expert. So be the guy in the know.

Whether traveling or at home, there are times when a man should embrace his inner introvert and lean into the JOMO.”

That's the beauty of doing things on your own. It's a "choose your own adventure" set-up every time. Do you want to unwind without much interaction? Do you want to meet someone new? Try something you'd never experienced before? You can be as comfortable or as bold as you like. You answer to no one.

But I'll leave you with a word of caution: you don't have to act lonely just because you're alone. Don't stare down into your phone the entire time you're out by yourself. Don't be embarrassed. You weren't stood up, you chose to come out on your own. Sit back, stare out into the action and people watch. If you're open to conversation or looking to meet someone, this makes you look much more approachable than a guy with his head buried behind a screen. With your head held high, there's the chance you'll catch someone's eye and they'll introduce themselves. After all, a guy on his own certainly looks less intimidating than a group sitting together.

And like I said before, bartenders can also be notoriously generous to solo drinkers. Chat them up and ask for a recommendation. They'll likely buy one of your drinks, not to mention, they're typically happy to be your wingman and introduce you to another patron, should you be looking to meet someone. It's always easier to embrace the small talk when you're by yourself, not having to worry about what your group is doing.

Of course, if you're not having a good time, you can leave. Right then and there. That's another thing about flying solo. You've got the freedom to call all the shots. Switch locations, hit the dance floor, order another drink. There's no hierarchy or group-think. Just you and your decisions. And that can be really good once in a while.


42% of meals in America are now eaten alone, according to The Hartman Group, a market research firm that focuses on the food and beverage industry.