My First Experience of Eating Alone was Terrible…
The first time I went on holiday by myself I don’t think I even considered what it would be like eating alone in a restaurant. I felt that staying at an all inclusive resort was easy for a solo traveller as there was no need to leave the resort. It was no problem to find a quiet place by the pool or on the beach where I didn’t feel out of place being alone, especially being totally immersed in a book. But then it came to dinner time….
I remember thinking that 8pm would be a good time to head for dinner. I hadn’t realised that this seemed to be the peak dining time and the restaurant was full of couples!!! Great!!! There were a couple of tables vacant but these were completely in the middle of the restaurant. As the hostess accompanied me to my table, I felt as if all eyes were on me. They may not have been, but nonetheless I felt extremely anxious and self-conscious. I was the only solo traveller in the entire restaurant.
The waiter came over. He cheerily introduced himself and then asked where my husband or partner was. I told him I was alone and he was very surprised. He genuinely seemed quite shocked I would travel alone. At this point, I actually felt like I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me!!! I ate my dinner quickly and couldn’t wait to leave! Luckily the entertainment that followed was set up in a way that was very suitable for solo travellers so the evening ended well. I realised I needed to change my dinner plan for the next night and be more prepared!! Read on for my top tips!
Top Tips when Dining Solo
- Reserve a table in advance if you can. If possible, ask for a table around the edge of the restaurant, preferably one with a window or a view.
- If you can’t reserve a table, arrive outside peak dining times, say 6:30-7. Alternatively, after 9. This gives you more chance of getting a table by the edge of the restaurant with fewer diners.
- People watching is a great activity when dining alone, discretely of course! I actually enjoy trying to work out who is on honeymoon, which couple look totally bored with being together and so on…naughty, I know, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this!
- If the restaurant is open air and there are tables with a view, especially ocean views, choose one of those. It’s wonderful looking out to sea while you dine and makes it very enjoying eating alone.
- Take a book or magazine
- Find out if there is wifi and bring your phone.
- Make conversations with the staff about other places that would be suitable for solo travellers and research these. Generally restaurants attracting a mix of families, couples and solo travellers are good choices of places to head for.
- If there are no available tables by the edge but there is dining available at the bar then choose that. This can often mean you have your back to the other diners in the restaurant. Other solo diners are often here too. The bartenders are usually keen to chat to you and its entertaining watching them make their cocktails!
- Wear something comfortable. If you are already feeling like you may get more attention from dining solo, you don’t want to enter the restaurant fiddling with your dress that keeps rising. Or even worse, go skidding across the floor in those heels you haven’t quite got used to yet! Look confident!
I am now totally comfortable dining solo in the UK where I live or when I go abroad. The tips above have really helped me enjoy my experiences when eating alone, following my first disaster!
Suggested Further Reading:
My Solo Travel Tips page has links to other posts sharing tips for solo holidays, solo dining and solo activities.