Tomorrow it’s finally going to happen. I will actually be traveling alone. And secretly I’m starting to find it more exciting than I expected. Am I really going to like this? Won’t I be too self conscious? What on earth am I doing in a restaurant by myself? Just dinner?
And that brings us straight to my biggest sticking point. At least in my head. After all, how do you go about eating out on your own when you’re traveling? Is eating out alone fun? Of course, I’ve eaten out on my own before when traveling. I used to go on regular business trips when I worked at Nike and while that was often with colleagues, there were also nights when I was on my own.
I’d often go for the safe option. So I ordered room service or sat in the hotel restaurant. This is slightly less weird, as people are more likely to dine there on their own. But of course I’m not going to sit in my hotel room every night on Curaçao when I can have dinner somewhere on the beach with the sun in my face and the wind in my hair. Just to make it extra attractive. Haha …
So what now? By definition, eating out is an activity that you usually do with two or more. That may also make it the most uncomfortable part of traveling alone. The fact that people are staring at you – or at least that’s what it feels like – with such a wistful or pitying look. Ah, that woman has no friends at all. Or something like that. And what on earth are you doing at a dinner like that? Are you going to sit and stare at your phone? Or are you bringing a book? Are you desperately trying to strike up a conversation with the first person sitting next to you?
Tips for eating out alone
So I decided to start my research by looking for tips on eating out alone and collecting them here. The next week I’m going to try this every day in real life and how it works out I’m going to share with you of course. Seeing which tips worked and which ones didn’t!
Find a nice spot in the restaurant. The most annoying thing is to sit at a separate table in the middle of a restaurant so that you feel like you’re really in the middle of the action. It’s better to find a table in a corner or on a nice point. In the case of Curacao, for example, where you can stare out over the water. If you book in advance please indicate that you are coming alone and want a nice table.
Bring a book, your e-reader, notebook or a magazine. Then at least you have something to do if it becomes uncomfortable for you. I think this is a good tip. I always write all kinds of things in my notebook when traveling. I went out for dinner on my own before (in Middelburg) and because there was nobody to distract me I came to the best insights with my notebook there.
Do you feel like everyone is staring at you? Then take a look around you. You’ll see that no one is concerned with you, but everyone is just enjoying their own food. And are they watching? Then realize that they are probably thinking something like ‘Gee, look at her enjoying herself. I’d like that too!
Keep it casual. Eating out alone is more likely to be easier in a less formal setting. So just pick a cozy cafe or casual restaurant. Of course fine dining is also possible. After all, you don’t have to take anyone into account but if you’re just starting out with eating out on your own then a bit more informal is probably more pleasant and less daunting.
Eat slowly. Don’t make the mistake of wolfing down your food like crazy because you feel like you’re hogging a table or because you’re not enjoying it. Take your time, order what you like and enjoy the experience.
Lunch instead of dinner. Want to slowly ease into eating out alone? Then try lunch first instead of dinner. That’s often a bit easier and fine to start with.
Eating at the bar is also a tip often given. Personally, I don’t like those as much because I prefer to eat at a table. At the bar I am forced to start a conversation with the person at the bar and sit with my back to all the other guests. I don’t like that myself, but if you are ok with that; go for it.
Enjoy the experience. Have a nice glass of wine. Taste every bite thoroughly and let the day pass you by once more. Write something in your notebook or read a good book. Or just stare ahead and let your thoughts run wild.
Well that’s it; all the tips for eating alone when you travel. And then I guess it’s just a matter of doing it. So wish me luck and of course I’ll let you know how it went!