In a previous blog, I talked about ways in which you can start to build your comfort level with traveling solo. We already talked about going to the movies solo; now let's tackle the next step. Eating at a restaurant on your own!
I know, I know. This is the one where I hear the most worry and comments from people considering solo travel. They're nervous to eat on their own, and not sure they can sit in a restaurant by themselves. They feel like their only options for meals are fast food or picking up pre-packaged meals from grocery stores. Those are great, and I love a Wendy's Baconater or a slice of pizza to go as much as the next girl. But you don't have to be limited to those options.
I realized while gathering photos that most of my solo dining pictures have to do with chips and salsa, margaritas and
guacamole. Sorry not sorry.
So let's talk about why solo dining is the best, and why starting out at home and in your town can help build your confidence. You CAN do this! Trust me! You'll be so glad you did.
1) Start "small" by choosing restaurants in your town or neighborhood.
The best way to build your confidence if you're considering solo travel is to do things in your town or city that you would normally do, just on your own. This way, you already have a comfort level with places, environments, etc and you can concentrate on building a new skill in a place that is familiar and comfortable. I'd suggest going to your favorite spots, and start there.
Then once you get more comfortable, you can start to expand your circle and dine out at all sorts of places! I've been making a list of all the places in my area of Southwest Florida that I have been wanting to try, reading about, seeing on Instagram, etc. And I'll be visiting lots of those solo!
Remember, dining out isn't just a luxury when you have someone(s) to go with. It's for EVERYONE.
2) No one is paying that close of attention to you to care that you're dining solo. Trust me.
This is something I hear in general when talking to people about solo travel. "But people will be looking at me, talking about me, wondering why I am there alone."
Friend, I say this with all the love in my heart. No one cares.
Everyone is so wrapped up in their own stuff, their own lives, etc that they don't notice. At most, someone might think to themself, hey that girl is here on her own! Cool! And then the thought immediately leaves their brain and they're onto the next thing.
And not to mention - you can't worry about that small percentage of people who might say something rude or snarky. You wouldn't want to be friends with them anyway - so who cares what they think?! What is coming to my mind is that great saying - What someone thinks about you is none of your business. And the reality is, people just aren't as focused on you as you think they might be.
3) Don't limit yourself to just cafes and coffee shops.
If starting out by grabbing a coffee and croissant at your favorite coffee shop is your starting place, go for it. Cafes and coffee shops can be great places to start to dip your toe in the water, because often people are there on their own before or after work, on lunch breaks, etc.
But don't limit yourself! Great solo dining experiences can be had at any type of restaurant, any level of casual or fancy. Is there a new place in town you've been dying to try, but you and your friends can't align your schedules to get there soon? Go on your own! Or maybe you're the only one in your family who loves Thai food, and you've been salivating over the Instagram pictures of that brand-new restaurant the next city over. Solo dining is perfect for coffee shops, cafes, high-end restaurants, and everything in between.
4) Bring something to keep yourself occupied, just in case.
One of my top tips when you're dining solo is to bring something to occupy yourself, in case you feel like you want to be doing something while at the table or bar. I've had great meals and wonderful experiences when I just take in my surroundings, but sometimes you want something to do, look at, read, etc.
If you have a Kindle or an e-reader, this is perfect. Often they are very small and light, and can fit in your purse or bag. As long as you have your book downloaded, they also don't require WiFi or data, so no worries if you're somewhere that doesn't have internet access.
Other ideas to try:
* Bookmark articles you come across on news sites, blogs, etc that you want to read
* Keep a small notebook or your planner so you can journal, jot down ideas, plan your week, etc. (Many of these blogs you're reading on my site have been either partially written or at least thought of during my solo dining adventures!)
* Apps or games on your phone or tablet
5) Try different times of day - not just lunch or breakfast!
Solo dining isn't just for a lunch. There's no rule saying you can't go out for dinner, even on a Friday or Saturday night! Get dressed up, and take yourself on a date. Order a nice glass of wine or a cocktail, and enjoy spending quality time with someone awesome - YOU!
So what do you think? Would you give solo dining a try?