Last Updated on 2nd March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau
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:
- Tips for eating in restaurants alone
- Pin eating alone as a solo traveller: the art of dining for one!
Tips for eating in restaurants alone
Research the restaurant before you go
One of the most important considerations before you go out to eat alone in a restaurant is to decide on where you’re going to eat! Even when I’m dining out with friends and family, I find that one of the most stressful tasks is finding where to eat in the first place!
This can be even more daunting when you’re dining alone. As such, one of my top tips for eating alone in a restaurant would be to do your research well in advance as to where you want to eat (and planning your route to/ from your accommodation). If you find where you want to eat out, call in advance to book a table if the place takes reservations.
These days, I also tend to have lots of work to do in the evenings when I’m travelling and so inevitably end up booking somewhere that has a kitchen (this way I also have an excuse to check out the local market) or order takeaway.
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 or other drink you love 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).
Plus, if you think about it, most people are probably wrapped up in their own situations to even notice that you’re dining alone! For more ideas on ways to practice solo travel prior to your trip, here’s how to take photos as a solo traveller.
Bring a book or your laptop
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 rather than just aimlessly scrolling through social media!
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, laptop to do some work (if you work online) or simply just your phone!
If you think about it, you only have to fill up the time before your food actually arrives. Please note that more and more restaurants are not allowing the use of laptops (or even tablets) and so bringing along a book is a safer bet for finding a way to kill time.
Leave a place holder
If you need to get up and use the bathroom, it can be a little tricky to do so, as the servers might assume that you’ve left and clear your plates/ cups away. You might also be concerned that other guests have assume that you’ve left and take your table.
I always leave a sweater or a scarf with a book on my table so that people know I’m coming back. Of course, be sensible about what you’re leaving on the table and don’t leave your bags/ any valuables unattended when you leave the table to use the bathroom.
Don’t be too self-conscious
It’s 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 even 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.
Going to a bar alone
Of course, going to a restaurant vs going to a pub are two entirely different experiences. However, if you want to head to a bar for a drink, then I would suggest going somewhere a little more intimate, where you can order a drink at a table. I would also consider going to a venue where they play live music.
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!
Sunday 11th of December 2022
Hi Sophie! Thanks for the ideas (: Are there any particular restaurants / bars in Paris where you would suggest to have a relaxed and quiet dine-in on your own? G
Wednesday 23rd of May 2018
Yes! I love this post. There is beauty to eating alone. Thanks for sharing :)
Tuesday 26th of September 2017
Any suggestions for London at Christmas time?
Wednesday 27th of September 2017
I'm actually working on a post and will have a complete list of suggestions out in the next few weeks :) In the meantime, I suggest things like Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum, visiting the Christmas markets at Hyde Park (which is also home to Winter Wonderland) and the Tate and seeing the Christmas lights along Oxford Street! I'll have a more comprehensive list (with plenty of photos very soon) so I hope this was helpful in the meantime!
Thursday 17th of August 2017
Great article! Whenever I eat alone, I always bring a phone, a book or a diary that I can spend time on.... but I also think it is great to just look around.... it might feel awkward, but it shouldnt be :) Whenever I travel I do not mind eating alone.......but in my hometown, I do not go out alone LOL
Wednesday 16th of August 2017
Sophie, it is amazing how much you travel?
Do you actual do this solo?
Thursday 17th of August 2017
Sometimes I travel alone, other times it’s away with friends. I go away once every month or two for a few days to somewhere in Europe or in the UK. It’s normally somewhere where I can stay with friends/ family, or if I’m collaborating with a brand or destination as this way I’m always able to constantly create new content, even while away. While I’m travelling, I’ll take dozens of notes and hundreds of photos so that I have plenty of content for when I’m not travelling. I’m lucky in that I work from home and so my schedule is quite flexible. As a result, I’m also able to go on a couple of day trips to somewhere in the West country each week to create new content and just get out of the house (from where I’m currently based in Devon). I studied for my degree in London and did a year abroad in Paris (which is where I made all my French content). So, as you can see, my content isn’t necessarily chronological at all and I do spend a lot of time at home creating/ writing/ researching and editing! However, I prefer it to be varied, which is why I try to do a different country/ destination each day, rather than focusing on one area, and then another etc.