Eating alone needn’t be a miserable experience for first-time solo travellers. Keep these tips in mind next time you’re heading out for a bite sans company, and you’ll soon realise that dining solo is the only way to go.
Choose your establishment wisely
First up, make sure you pick the right kind of place. Sure, if you have your heart set on sampling the culinary delights of one of Paris’s most romantic restaurants, then go right ahead, but you could feel a little out of place surrounded by all the loved-up couples who are sure to be dining there too. Your best bet is a laid-back restaurant or café that already has a few customers inside. In European countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal you can make the most of the warmer weather and sit outside on the terrace or pavement – chances are you’ll find plenty of fellow solo diners doing exactly the same thing. In India or parts of North Africa or Asia, it may be worth steering clear of run-down roadside joints frequented entirely by locals, especially if you’re a woman on your own. The chances of you being in danger are almost non-existent, but you may find the (often well-meaning) attention from your fellow diners a little too much. Instead pick somewhere that caters to tourists or families too.
Choose your seat wisely
Try and grab a small table near a window, or facing the restaurant or the street, but definitely not facing a wall – you’ll miss everything! People-watching is an art, and you can enjoy hours watching and listening to the world going on around you.
Bring some entertainment
Some of my best writing has been done while enjoying a romantic dinner date with yours truly. Eating alone gives you a wonderful opportunity to enjoy your own time and space, whether that be finishing your book or getting started on your latest blog post. If you’re in a popular backpacker haunt but not in the mood for socialising, your book, Kindle or notepad will send a clear message to others that you prefer not to be disturbed.
But if you’re looking to make friends…..
Then go right ahead! Some of my best travel friendships were forged in cafes and restaurants. All it takes is a bright smile, some open body language and a bit of courage to chat to the person next to you. You will be amazed at how many other people are travelling alone and have made friends in exactly the same way, and if you take the care to choose places that are filled with fellow travellers, chances are you won’t get a moment to yourself anyway!
To Drink or Not To Drink?
This is aimed more at my fellow female travellers. There seems to be more of a taboo attached to women than men when it comes to drinking alone. I say……ignore it! Taking yourself out for some food and chilled beer or yummy glass of wine is an amazing way to end the day, and stuff anyone who says otherwise! Just try not to get too smashed if you’re on your own, it’s important to keep your wits about you.
Practice Makes Perfect
When I first starting travelling, eating on my own was tough. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that everyone was looking at me and pitying me for having no one to eat with, even though I knew deep down that no one was paying me any attention whatsoever – they were all too wrapped up in their meals and conversations to notice me! But, as time went on I gradually lost that awkward feeling and started to look forward to the “me time” I would get at the end of the day with my notepad, a beer and some good food. Basically, just like all the best things, practice takes perfect, so if you find yourself feeling a little weird at first, persevere! You will soon be wondering what it was you were worried about.
Photo by adriandressler on Flickr