Table for One: 6 Tips for Eating Alone While Traveling
Dining alone on vacation can be intimidating at first, but it doesn't have to be! Here are some tips to help you dine alone with confidence.
When you travel alone, it adds an entire extra layer to your travel experience. There's more freedom because you don't have to go anywhere that doesn't interest you. You can stay where you want and decide on your budget with ease. While traveling alone is something everyone should do at least once in their lives, it can also come with some extra nerves.
It's scary to do something by yourself, especially when surrounded by groups of people out with friends or family. That's why eating alone while traveling is something even some of the most passionate travelers dread. The following six tips will help you learn to love eating out on your own during trips, so you never feel like holing up with room service ever again.
1. Try Not to Overthink
The anxiety that surrounds the idea of eating alone begins long before you ever step foot in a restaurant. It's the little voice in your head telling you everyone will look at you as soon as you arrive. They'll know you're alone and they'll judge you for not having someone to dine with as if that's shameful.
Before you leave for your next trip, learn how to banish negative thinking. The truth is — when you go out to eat by yourself, everyone is too wrapped up in their own experience to pay you any mind. If you stop overthinking, you'll feel free to dine in any restaurant you choose. Start by recognizing the negative thoughts when they arise and allow yourself to let them go.
2. Sit at the Bar
Many people who eat alone opt to sit at the bar. Bar seating makes it difficult for a party of two or more people to hang out together. You're more likely to sit around people also eating alone, who will direct no judgment your way. It may also give you a better experience. You'll have one bartender who can pay close attention to when you need refills, versus waiting for a server to come back from their other, larger tables. Bartenders can be great resources for local recommendations and you may even strike up conversation with a fellow solo traveler.
3. Focus on the Experience
What drives people to go out to eat? They do it for the experience. Sure, you could make that slice of lasagna at home, but you wouldn't get the same ambiance. Dining out while traveling allows you to receive the full experience — choose to embrace it.
Go to local restaurants or ones with specific themes tied to your travel location, like beach bars or mountainside restaurants. An experience like dining out is shown to make people happier, so by focusing on having a great time, you'll leave any restaurant satisfied and happy that you went. At the end of the meal, it won't matter that you didn't bring anyone with you.
4. Go to Fancier Restaurants
When people dine together, there are a few different factors to keep in mind. Not everyone will have the same taste in food, and not everyone will have the same budget. That narrows down many restaurant options, but when you travel alone, you don't have to worry about any of that.
Research some of the fancier restaurants in the local area. Avoid chain brands so you receive a local experience that you can't replicate anywhere else. Save up some extra cash to go big on dining, since you can eat wherever you want.
5. Avoid Rush Hours
High-end or local-favorite restaurants often draw crowds during peak times. Research ahead of time to avoid rush hours and enhance your experience. Plan your vacation activities around when people typically eat lunch and dinner, then dine before or after those times.
Planning when to eat will help your vacation in two ways. First, you'll dine in less crowded restaurants meaning fewer people to worry about and potentially better service. Second, you'll roam tourist hot spots at quieter hours meaning you can put long lines behind you. If you think you can make this tip work, try it out in your next vacation.
6. Call Ahead of Time
When you arrive at a busy restaurant, you often find yourself greeted with a pager and a waiting area. Avoid this by calling ahead of time to place a reservation.
If you can't find a place that allows reservations, try finding a restaurant that does call ahead seating, then wait at the bar before you get called back to eat.
Solo-Dine With Dignity
Dining out alone is not as big a deal as some may imagine. Instead, see the experience as an opportunity to choose any restaurant you like, order whatever food you want and leave whenever you want. Block out any negative thoughts — you'll enjoy your solo traveling when you focus on the positives of your trip.