How to Dine Alone
You are a strong, independent woman who don't need no dinner companion. Some women have let me know that they're too scared to travel or dine alone. Crippled by fears of judgment for being by themselves, women are actually actively avoiding activities they'll enjoy. But this is forgetting that as the famous Tame Impala phrased it, Solitude Is Bliss.
I've eaten alone at hundreds of restaurant tables over the years and somewhere along the way I realised I had it down to an art. Dining alone is now pure indulgence for me.
- Plan ahead and check if there's wifi
By plan ahead, I don't mean you need an itinerary for your trip. But one thing I like to do is go through TripAdvisor and save all the interesting sounding restaurants with good reviews within my budget. Then depending where I am that day I have a reference list to find somewhere great nearby, knowing it'll be a high-quality experience. Another handy resource to use is happycow.net to find somewhere that'll happily cater to the conscious consumer. Since I'm alone, I'll always preference somewhere with wifi so I can catch up on emails and social media while waiting for my food.
- Choose somewhere casual
Choose a restaurant where you can seat yourself and choose your own table. When eating alone I wouldn't opt to choose a busy restaurant with a line that requires a host to seat you then do that fancy thing where they place your napkin on your lap for you. That's just unnecessarily awkward. Unless that restaurant is on the travel bucket list, I'd rather eat at a casual restaurant where nobody minds when I mosey in or out.
- Be friendly with the servers
The fun thing about travelling solo is that the people around you become your temporary friends! Who needs permanent companionship when all these new pals are coming and going all the time!? Chatting to your server and leaving a nice tip is a good way to get your dose of human contact. Be open and friendly with those around you too, I have found a friend in another solo traveller sitting a table away from me.
- Have a good book
As I touched on in a previous post, solo travel is the best time to get a lifetime worth of reading done. And the best way to turn awkward solo dining into an anticipated, enjoyable routine is to pack a good book (or download Kindle on your iPad). It's an easy way to linger over your meal for an hour. When travelling, a good adventurous book is in order. Some of my favourites include Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen.
Solo meals are a good time to reflect on your thoughts and ideas. Often it's when I'm at my most inspired, after a good day exploring a new part of the world I'm buzzing with #inspo and taking time out for a sit-down lunch is a great chance to reflect. You don't have to be an avid journaler because I'm not, but my phone and iPad are full of jotted down quotes and project ideas!
- Remember that people are more interested in themselves than you
Nobody is watching. You're the only person noticing that you're alone. Humans eat every day, and you're just a normal human going about your human business. People are way too busy being concerned about whether they're being noticed to notice you. Instead of rushing to eat and get out take your time because sweetie, nobody cares.
- Treat. Yo. Self.
Remember, nobody is watching. So you can EAT like nobody is watching. Something of everything? Only dessert? Only what's deep fried? Eat whatever you feel like, because you don't ever have to see these people again. And don't be afraid to order a drink. A pina colada a day keeps the loneliness away! Ridin' solo doesn't mean you can't treat yo'self.
I am my own favourite company, and I relish the time spent alone enjoying good food and a good book. Like the Himalayan monks have shown us, you can never have enough alone time. Travelling and eating solo doesn't ever have to be awkward or embarrassing. Follow the above advice, stand up straight and walk into that restaurant with confidence!