I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out to eat at a nice restaurant by myself. I am a huge foodie and can’t miss the opportunity to taste amazing food just because I feel embarrassed going alone. These are my top tips as a solo female traveler for eating alone at a restaurant.
One of people’s biggest fears in solo travel is dining alone but it is not as bad as you think. If you follow my advice here, it will be a bit more comfortable and once you’ve tried it once, you will never think twice about it again!
First, let’s think about why you might feel awkward dining out on your own. Eating out is often associated as a social event and therefore it may feel really weird to deviate from these social rules. However, when solo traveling, it’s different. You are seeing the world instead of waiting for friends and feeling independent because you are confident and brave to go on your own. What makes eating out alone different? People won’t be paying as much attention to you as you think and if they do – so, what! You may never come across them again! I dine alone as a single woman all the time and I have never had any issues with doing it!
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1. Visit a country that eats late and dine out early!
If you fear eating out alone, ease into solo dining by traveling to a country known to eat late. For example, in Italy and Spain, it is common to eat at 9 or even 10 pm at night. If you’re used to eating at 7 pm you will have the whole restaurant to yourself and even spot some other same solo travelers with the same idea!
Plus, traveling solo is all about building confidence and who cares what others think if you’re eating on your own. It might also be a way for you to spur conversation with the bartender if you dine in less awkward places like the bar. Ask what their favorite local place is or thing to do in the city to start a conversation.
2. Pick places that are not as formal to eat at
I do tend to pick places that aren’t as formal or make me feel out of place but there have been times I’ve dined nicely alone. For example, many cafes are nice to pop into especially in Paris! Just grab a book to read while your food comes and you will blend in naturally with many others doing the same thing! Once I went to this adorable teddy bear cafe in Paris called Le Choupinet. So wasn’t necessarily dining solo after all! In fact, throughout Paris, you will find many cafes with these bears as they were introduced during the pandemic to help with social distancing.
3. Read a book or take something to keep you occupied
While you wait for food, it’s a good idea to bring a book or something to keep you occupied so you aren’t sitting and doing nothing as you wait for your food. Even being entertained by your phone could be an option. This will make it more comfortable and less awkward.
4. Bring something to save your seat
Need to run to the bathroom and afraid someone will snatch your spot? It’s a good idea to bring something so that the server and other guests know you’re planning to come back. This can be a scarf, a book, or sunglasses. Just of course don’t leave anything valuable!
5. Tell the restaurant to seat you at the bar or another quiet corner
When making a reservation, you can tell them you will be alone and to put you in a place that doesn’t feel too awkward, like the bar or maybe the small table that isn’t right smack in the center of the place. Don’t feel weird! No one is going to be paying attention to you as you think. Also, if they do, how do they know you aren’t traveling for work or meeting a friend later? Also, sitting at the bar is a good way to meet people. You can ask the bartender what his or her favorite place is in the city to visit. Or compliment them in some way as that is always an easy conversation starter.
6. Do a food tour
If you still can’t get the courage to do it, why not sign up for a tour that involves eating. One of the things I love to do is go on a tasting tour. One time I went on one of the best food tours in the world in the foodie town of San Sebastian, Spain. Here, we hopped to different pintxos bars (pintxos are Spanish tapas usually with bread and some sort of topping) to sample food and I met so many cool people during the tour. After the tour, I connected with one of the girls on the tour and we spent the next day together and did dinner. I have also done this in my very own city in London. I loved the cheese crawl that I did sampling cheeses from specialty shops in London.
7. Take a cooking class
Taking a cooking class is another good way to meet people while traveling and ease into dining out while solo traveling. The best part is you also get to learn how to cook something local in the town you’re visiting.
I met a really good friend who was solo traveling when I was with a friend traveling and we are so close now to this day! We have traveled together a countless amount of times. I am happy to have her as my friend and travel partner in crime.
8. Meet friends solo traveling and invite them to eat with you!
Ok, this one might be the opposite advice about eating out alone but if you really feel shy to eat alone you can always meet friends while traveling solo and invite them out. I feel like solo traveling really opens me up to meeting people more than if I was traveling with others. There are so many sites out there for connecting like-minded travelers: Couch Surfing, BackPackr, and Meetup.com.
9. Order the food for takeaway and sit in the park to eat
Another thing you can do is order food to go or for takeaway then sit somewhere like a park to eat your food. I might do this if there’s a place I really want to try but I don’t feel like sitting at the restaurant for whatever reason.
Come on now foodies, you can do this. Never sacrifice a good meal because you’re afraid to go alone!
Have you ever dined alone?
What are your favorite tips? Comment in the comments section to let me know!
Travel Insurance for Solo Travelers
To be extra safe, it is definitely worth getting travel insurance whether you’re traveling alone or even with others. I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of any accidents or hospital visits. While it’s unlikely to happen, better safe than sorry!
Comment below with your favorite solo dining tips!
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