One of the daunting aspects of traveling alone is eating alone, an activity that’s usually considered a social one, amongst friends, family, or at least your peers. Unlike when you’re exploring an area or participating in some sort of activity abroad, it’s not as easy to make fast friends at a restaurant.
I traveled to Edinburgh, a place where I had no language barriers and met dozens of very friendly fellow travelers and locals. Yet I still ended up eating alone for the majority of the time, and I was determined to enjoy every meal despite my lone ‘party of one’ status. Here’s what I did:
Ahead of Time
Look up restaurants and eateries that are in the areas you will be staying and exploring. Not only will this gives you an idea of price ranges in each area, but then you can be excited about seeking out different restaurants and local stands for foods you want to try!
Because I a) love to plan, b) love to save money where I can, and am c) a control freak, I created a Google map with all of my potential places to eat tagged. That way, I always had a sense of what restaurants were nearby that I was already interested in.
Your Choice of Entertainment
Were there any brochures you wanted to take a second look at or local points of interest you wanted to search on your phone? Listen to a podcast with one headphone or take out your book to read during your meal. You have no traveling companion to entertain and nobody to judge you because nobody knows you! You’re a visitor and paying customer!
Most restaurants have smaller tables for two by the window so request to sit there. Enjoy the view and all the surrounding activity during your meal instead of being surrounded by your fellow diners.
Second to window seats is counter seats, ideally with a view of the kitchen. This is more rare, but I personally love watching the behind-the-scenes of the kitchen and all the different orders being plated.
Take Your Food to Go
If you’re visiting a place with nice weather, spend as much time as you can outside! Bring your lunch to a public park or bench on the side of a public square, where it’s much easier to enjoy your food without feeling the anxiety of dining alone where you bought your food.
This might be more a ‘me’ thing, not all advice is for everyone.
Dining at three restaurants a day really adds to your travel budget, so plan one indulgent meal a day and one less expensive option. This doesn’t have to be a throwaway meal because there’s always local cheap eats around which are more telling of what most locals eat on an everyday basis. A quick lunch at a smaller eatery also means less time spent sitting by yourself, which is another plus.
Imagine a whole trip where you get to pick every single restaurant, every single thing you want to eat without input from someone else. That’s one of the beauties of traveling alone, because you can choose to walk two extra minutes for a nicer coffee shop, or street meat for lunch, or dinner at a hidden gem that maybe your friends wouldn’t want to visit. Travel by yourself and just do it your way.