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Dread Dining Alone? Advice for Solo Travelers

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 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.

But what if you are all by yourself and there is no way you are going to ask to join others at their table?

Will it feel awkward to sit all by yourself while eating dinner?

According to an article by Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman you’re the only one who will notice that you are dining alone.

 

Travel tips for dining solo. You don't need to be anxious about eating alone when traveling

 

One of the benefits of dining in solitude is that it gives the solo traveler an opportunity to observe the local culture. This can help you 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.

 

Dread dining alone? Advice for solo travelers - visit a place with great ambiance like Café Tortoni in Buenos Aires Argentina

Enjoying brunch and reading my travel book at Cafe Tortoni – Buenos Aires Argentina

 

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 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.

 

From a meal alone to a guided tour

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. Also 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.

 

Restaurant staff can make solo dining enjoyable

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. 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 - choose boutique hotels - dining solo at Roosevelt's at the Tarpon Inn - Port Aransas Texas Gulf coast

Cheers to dining solo – Roosevelt’s at the Tarpon Inn – Port Aransas Texas

 

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
  • Draw/sketch
  • Study
  • 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 these posts for encouragement and advice.

Dining alone – do you dread it or enjoy the solitude? What tips or advice do you have for solo travelers when dining alone?

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Mags

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Great tips. I've yet to travel solo, but it's something that really intrigues me. Dining alone however, is my one big fear about it and I'm not sure why. This was an encouraging read.

Laurie Kazmierczak

Thursday 7th of August 2014

It's been a while since I dined alone...fast food joints is where I've ended up which is not great but does get me fed!....great tips♪

Margy

Wednesday 6th of August 2014

I actually like to travel alone and dine alone. I meet more people that way and have had some really interesting experiences along the way. Now I travel mostly with my husband, and he enjoys making most of the travel plans. That's OK, but there's something to be said to doing your own thing when and where you want. - Margy

Vidhya Rao

Wednesday 6th of August 2014

Thinking of it, I have NEVER had the opportunity to dine alone, except when I am at home...oh does the coffee shop stops count?...I think I want to try it...Great tips Susan.... I just remembered this episode from "Friends" ...oh well so much for some one who hasn't watched TV in a long time :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXuYIQD_RIQ

Susan Moore

Thursday 7th of August 2014

Vidhya thank you! I never watched the show Friends but I am pleased you shared this clip - I'm sure I wouldn't make it through a whole episode! I enjoyed it - thanks for the laughs :)

Msdemeaner

Tuesday 5th of August 2014

I rarely dine alone, but when I do I try to choose a restaurant with a lot of character; interesting artwork or chachkis (sp?) on the wall. Sitting at the bar in a casual pub feels a little less awkward and usually there's a tv to watch or the bar staff will engage you in conversation.

Susan Moore

Wednesday 6th of August 2014

Yes good point - sitting at the bar in a pub is a great choice when dining alone - the TV and the bartender can be good company - and they are often a great source of info for what's going on in the area. Cheers, Susan

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