Ugggg…..it’s meal time again! Many solo travelers find that the worst part of traveling alone arrives at meal times. I am also included in this category. While eating alone, or even just the thought of eating alone, can be scary to some solo travelers, it doesn’t have to be.
Experiment with these 10 tips and see if you find meal time less stressful and more enjoyable:
Eat During Off Hours
Most people feel much more comfortable eating alone when the restaurant isn’t packed full of people. Schedule your meals during the off hours:
- Breakfast between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.
- Lunch between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
- Dinner before 5:00 p.m. or after 8:00 p.m.
With this meal schedule, you may even find that you will skip lunch and just grab a protein bar or small snack while on the go.
Dinner time is typically a much more formal event, so you may feel more comfortable venturing into a restaurant alone for either breakfast or lunch. If you choose the lunch hour, you might want to consider eating your dinner at lunch and then you can skip the restaurant scene altogether at dinner time. By eating at cafes and coffee shops, you will feel completely invisible, as many people frequent these places alone.
Google is a beautiful tool when you are deciding where to eat. Research restaurants that you might be interested in. Once you have made a choice as to where you want to eat, study the menu and take a look at pictures in order to familiarize yourself with the restaurant before you go. You will feel much more comfortable walking into a restaurant that you are already familiar with.
Take a Seat
For me, seating is everything, but where you sit is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to sit in a corner, or with my back against a wall. This way it is much easier for me to people watch as well. More importantly, it is an important safety tip when traveling alone, as you can see what is going on around you at all times.
Other people prefer to sit with their back to the crowd. I guess they figure that if they are unable to see other people, then other people are also unable to see them.
The final option, and one that is popular among solo travelers eating alone, is to cozy up to the bartender. You can be almost guaranteed that the majority of people sitting here are eating alone. If you truly are alone at the bar, at least you will have the bartender to entertain you, or visa versa. This is also the perfect way to obtain some inside tips on what to do, where to go, where to stay, and where else to eat at your destination.
Journal Your Travels
Waiting for your meal is the perfect opportunity to catch up on your journal entries. By keeping busy, you will be unaware of what is happening around you and you won’t feel like it’s obvious to everyone that you are eating alone (even though you are).
Chat With Friends
If you are eating alone during breakfast or lunch, it is perfectly okay to bring out your electronic devices. This is the perfect time to catch up on text messages, emails, and social media. It is not appropriate if eating dinner at a fine dining restaurant.
Catch Up on the News
Many restaurants and cafes have newspapers available for customer use. Pick one up and check out what is happening in the area you are visiting. If you are anything like me, you might even have a book stashed in your purse. Don’t be afraid to pull it out and catch up on some reading during breakfast or lunch.
Fine Dining Alone
I know that I said that I still struggle with being a solo traveler eating alone, but this is one trick that works for me. What can I say…..I love fine dining! At this stage, you have already done your research and are familiar with the fine dining restaurant that you will be eating at. Reservations are typically required, so it is at this point that you can make any seating requests that you might have.
You are in a foreign city or country eating at a fine dining restaurant, so be sure to order exactly what you want from the menu. Spare no expense. Sit back and enjoy a glass of wine, take in your surroundings and savor the taste of the amazing food.
Make sure that on this occasion, you dress to impress! You will feel much more confident and unfortunately, yes all eyes will be on you, but not because you are eating alone!
“I know what I bring to the table …. so trust me when I say I’m not afraid to eat alone”
People who work in the restaurant industry are trained in customer service. Keeping you happy is their primary goal. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with your server. He or she will be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the destination that you are exploring, and will be able to provide you with the inside scoop on what to see and do.
Forget Everybody Else
I know that when you enter a restaurant alone, you will feel like all eyes are on you. Trust me, they aren’t! Even if people are looking, I can guarantee you that they will not be thinking “Look at that girl. She is eating alone”. People have short attention spans and they will soon go back to what they were doing and won’t even give you a second thought. If they do, that’s their problem. You won’t ever see them again, so ignore them.
If you have tried some, or all, of these recommendations and still don’t feel comfortable eating alone, don’t sweat it. There is always tomorrow to give it another try. In the meantime, you won’t starve, there are still various options available to you:
- fast food drive through
- take-out restaurant
- order your meal in
- call room service
- visit a market or grocery store and pick up some items to make a small meal with
So there you have it. These are the tricks that I use when I am traveling and have to eat alone. I would love to know what tricks you use to over-come your fear of eating alone? Or does eating alone even bother you? What do you find most difficult about traveling solo? Let me know your good, bad and ugly truth about traveling solo.