Crowded and busy social settings such as restaurants may be very difficult to navigate if you have a chronic vestibular disorder. By making some adaptations, you may still be able to meet friends and eat in relative comfort. However, even with the best planning, you may become dizzy or disoriented. It will be easier on you and your dining companions if you explain your problem and suggest ways you can be helped before you actually need assistance. Here are some tips to get you started:
Selecting a restaurant
- Pick a restaurant with small separate rooms.
- No matter where you go, avoid rush hour.
- Avoid loud background music.
- Seek carpeted floors that reduce conversational noise and vibrations caused by waiters moving nearby.
- Avoid visually distracting shiny, checkered floors and surfaces, as well as ceiling fans and busy wallpaper.
- If the restaurant has a website, download a menu in advance and plan the meal to avoid visual strain and confusion.
- If you have dietary restrictions, such as low-sodium, no MSG, etc., research restaurants that will cater to your needs. You may want to call the restaurant you are planning to go to in advance to ask these questions, and don’t hesitate to ask your server, more than once, to confirm that your meal fits your dietary parameters.
- Seat yourself in the corner of a restaurant, avoiding the bustling middle.
- Sit away from kitchens, cash registers, and bars.
- Sit in chairs rather than benches to reduce motion caused by others seated next to you. Booths may also help block noise and activity.
- To reduce the amount of head turning required to converse, choose a round table or sit at the head.