I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked into the room, heart pounding, and a million thoughts racing through my head. No, I wasn’t about to take a particularly difficult exam. Instead, I was actually just about to dine in a restaurant. Alone. For the first time. But I needn’t have been worried! Eating alone as a solo traveller can be one of the most rewarding things you do on your travels. Here are five easy to follow, simple steps and practical advice for those dining alone:
If you’re worried about going into a restaurant and ordering a three-course meal, don’t do it. (By the way, you never have to do this. If you fancy, you could spend every meal time simply eating gelato- that’s the beauty of travelling on your own). Instead, start off small. Head to a coffee shop and get a latté alone, or order ice cream on your own. Practice until it feels more natural to walk in on your own (trust me, it gets easier every time).
Bring a book
If you feel strange about going totally alone, take a good book with you. That way, while you’re waiting for your food, you’ll have your favourite author to keep you company! If you’re in search of some reading material, then why not check out these books about France? Alternatively, you can always bring along your Kindle, or simply just your phone!
Don’t be too self-conscious
Easier said than done, but try not to feel too self-conscious when you’re ordering/ asking for a table. More often than not, chances are everyone’s too busy concentrating on their own meal (and their own lives) to even notice that you’re having a party for one! Try not to feel awkward and focus on your food, and enjoying this experience in becoming comfortable with your own company.
Bring along some language learning/ trip planning guides
If you’re dining alone, chances are you’re away from home, and maybe in a country where you don’t even speak the language that well. Bring along a phrase book (perhaps you can even practice with your waiter if the restaurants not too busy) or a guidebook to make plans for what to do tomorrow!
Chat with the staff!
If there’s the option to sit at the bar, then feel free to go there! I often do this, especially if I’m looking to enjoy a coffee or a small glass of wine. That way, you’ll always have the opportunity to sit and chat with the bartender if you’re feeling lonely. After all, they’ll often have the coolest stories and be more than happy to talk with you.
Focus on the positives
You choose the cuisine. You choose the budget. You choose the time. When you’re dining out with a friend, partner or family member (or worse still, your boss), you have to share the decision of where to go, what to eat etc. You never have to worry about impressing anyone. Eating alone as a solo traveller means that, much like the rest of solo travel, you can do what you like, when you like! Oh, and no one judges you for getting that sauce on your jacket- oops!