Some people enjoy traveling solo but dread the thought of dining alone. I have put together some tips and advice for solo travelers to help people get more enjoyment out of dining alone.
I acquired the skill of feeling comfortable while dining alone when I was on my first solo trip in Southeast Asia. Spending seven months traveling alone I had to get used to dining solo. I also became quite comfortable with walking up to another solo traveler and asking “do you mind if I join you?” and I recall many were grateful to have some company.
One of the benefits of dining in solitude is that it gives the solo traveler an opportunity to observe the local culture and get a better understanding of the cultural norms in a new location. Watch how people greet each other, how they interact, and how they say goodbye. My favorite place to dine alone is at an outdoor café in a busy neighborhood or plaza so that I get to enjoy some time just people watching.
Solo travel tip – talk with your neighbors
On many occasions I have been dining alone and someone at an adjacent table starts a conversation with me. Having someone to talk to passes the time and I often get travel tips from them too. While I was in Barcelona I was just finishing up my lunch at Clemen’s Bar in La Boqueria when someone sat at the empty stool next to me. We started talking and it turned out John was from Austin, TX but moved to Barcelona a couple of years ago.
I ordered a cortado (espresso with a bit of steamed milk) and John ordered a meal and all the while we were talking about travel and various sites in Barcelona. He told me that if I didn’t have any definite plans for the afternoon he would be happy to take me on a walkabout around Barcelona. Wonderful! My own private tour guide. We spent several hours walking around the neighborhoods. We visited Montjuic, went to the top of the old bull fighting ring for a wonderful view of Plaza Espana and the surrounding area. A splendid afternoon walking around Barcelona and learning about some of the history and culture from someone who lived there.
My experience in Barcelona was not the norm. Usually I am on my own so I make the best of it and hopefully I enjoy a good meal. Sometimes the wait staff are not particularly attentive but other times it is quite the opposite. While dining alone in Miami around Christmas time I went to the Italian restaurant Hosteria Romana and every waiter that walked by either chatted with me a little or flirted with me. It was a memorable meal not just for the food but for the enjoyable time I had at the restaurant.
I took a solo road trip to Port Aransas on the Texas coast and enjoyed dining at Roosevelt’s at the Tarpon Inn so much that I went back again on my second night in town. It was off-season so it was easy to get a table and the staff were kind and welcoming.
Advice for solo travelers – how to enjoy dining alone
- Read a book, magazine, e-book
- Write in a journal
- Review photos on a digital camera or mobile phone
- Make lists – things to do, places you want to see, etc
- Read/send email, surf internet, text, chat online
- Photograph the food and the location
- Ask someone to take a photo of you at the restaurant
- Do puzzles, word games, etc
- Write postcards
- Bring a laptop and do some work online
- People watching – sit at a busy outdoor café
Not sure you are ready to travel solo? Read my post Traveling Alone – Tips for Solo Travel for some encouragement and advice.
Dining alone – do you dread it or enjoy the solitude? Any tips you would give or advice for solo travelers when dining alone?