“OMG I can’t believe I’m reliving my high school fear….. eating alone at lunch!”
Have you ever wandered back and forth outside a restaurant that you really wanted to go to, but then you chickened out and decided to take your food to go because you didn’t want to eat alone?
Yup! I feel you girl! The struggle is real, especially you’re a solo travel enthusiast like me. In moments like this, you start questioning if traveling alone is really worth it hahaha! Like, I could be eating and enjoying this food with my homegirls right now, but here I am eating alone. But you know what, after doing some internal work and reflection, I realized the reason why I fear eating alone is that I care too much about what other people think. When I eat alone at home, do I care? Nope! So why is it that when there are people around, I start questioning myself?
I know you’re thinking, “it’s hard to not care about what other people think”! Yup, that’s true, it takes work. So in this post, I want to share with you 10 tricks to help you overcome your fear of eating alone. It takes practice, but the more you eat alone, the more comfortable you’ll become. I’ve utilized all these tips myself when traveling solo. And it has definitely calmed my anxious and socially-awkward self down quite a bit. Anyways, I hope these tips will help you out!
1. Use Your Phone Or Write In Your Journal
I know, using your phone while eating isn’t the best thing to do for your digestive system. But hey, in desperate moments like this, we have to use what we got! Sometimes restaurants might not have WiFi, but don’t panic. You can use this as an opportunity to clear out old pictures on your phone, organize your notes, change a new wallpaper. Anything!
But if you prefer to stay away from technology and do the old school way, I think journaling would be perfect for you. Writing in your journal while eating alone just makes you look sophisticated and smart for some reason. You’ll look like you got goals to chase, money to be made, and places to be.
2. Sit Near The Window & People Watch
This is one of my favorite options while eating alone. Most of the time, if the restaurant isn’t packed with customers, the waiter or waitress will ask you where you prefer to sit. And for me at least, the window seat is always the best. Not only do you get to people watch and take your mind off of the fact that you’re eating alone. But you’re also away from the center of attention. And if you’re lucky, you get to enjoy a beautiful view of the place you’re visiting!
3. Listen To An Audiobook
Audiobooks are amazing in general, but when it comes to eating alone at a restaurant, they can really save your life. Compared to reading a book, listening to an audiobook is so much more convenient and less clumsy. Especially when you order a lot of the food and the table is packed. Also, audiobooks can really make you immerse yourself in the story and forget about your surroundings, which I think is a good thing in this case!
Eating food and absorbing knowledge at the same time? I say yes to that! We love a queen/king that strives to be a better version of themselves in every moment of their lives.
Pro Tip: I recommend only using one side of your earphone when you’re listening to your book so that you won’t accidentally ignore the waiter or waitress.
4. Enjoy The Moment & Savor Your Food
Have you ever worried so much about the fact that you’re eating alone, that you actually forgot what you were eating? Yeah same, and it’s quite unfortunate and a total waste of money! I think enjoying the present moment is not only important in the scenario of dining solo, but also applies to your everyday life. When you’re so in the moment, appreciating the fact that you’re here on this planet earth, you stop caring about minor inconveniences in life. It’s quite hard to describe the feeling. But when you truly are present, you feel a sense of overwhelming peace. And that my friend, is the key to enjoy being alone. So go ahead and savor every bite of your food! And most importantly, give thanks to the fact that you have the privilege of eating alone at a nice restaurant while traveling.
5. Sit At The Bar
Sitting at the bar is another one of my favorite seating options when solo dining while traveling. First of all, you get to socialize with the bartender. And if they’re cute… You know, it’s another icing on the cake lol! I’ve dined at the bar several times and the bartenders always make the experience so much better. They tend to be naturally good at talking to absolute strangers and making you feel less lonely. Also, since you’re sitting side by side to other customers, there’s a higher chance of them chatting you up, and you potentially making a new friend!
6. Sit Facing Away From The Crowd
Sitting facing away from the crowd is always a golden rule of mine. Especially when I know I’m going to stuff my face with a triple deck cheesy hamburger. Ain’t nobody got time for strangers judging the way you eat! For people that are self-conscious about eating in public, dining alone in a huge crowd can be one of the worst things ever. Because when you’re eating with your friends, at least you have someone to keep your attention on and forget the fact that you’re eating like a pig. But when you’re alone! Every bite has to be calculated correctly so that you don’t look crazy. And so that’s why sitting facing away from the crowd is crucial. At least you can eat alone without having a nervous breakdown.
7. Don’t Do High-End
Going to a fancy five-star restaurant alone can be quite nerve-wracking I’m not going to lie. If this is your first time ever dining alone, I would suggest that you start out with a cute little cafe or diner. But if you want to challenge yourself and go for the hardest level of solo dining, then go on ahead haha! Maybe once you tackle the most difficult one, every other restaurant will be a piece of cake for you.
But I mean seriously though, I think the art of dining solo is something you’ll need to practice a lot in order to master. Especially if you suffer from social anxiety. Going to a high-end fancy restaurant from the jump can quite possibly ruin your impression of dining solo, and might even cause you to never want to eat alone ever again. So let’s do this step by step guys, you got it!
8. Use Google & Yelp To Your Advantage
“Google is the answer to every single one of your life questions, Google is your mentor, Google is the universe itself.”-Jamela, solo travel enthusiast
So hey, before you venture out to a new restaurant, Google it first! For example, whenever I go somewhere new, I like to Google “Best restaurant in (*insert city or country*) for dining solo“! It’ll save you a lot of unnecessary worry before stepping into a restaurant. Check out these two articles on the best places to eat alone in NYC & the best restaurants to dine solo in Los Angeles. Also, since Yelp has interior pictures of restaurants, you can see if they have solo seating areas, and plan ahead for where you think might be a good spot to sit.
9. Avoid Peak Hours
Avoiding peak hours is just common sense when it comes to eating out. You get better service when the waiters/waitresses aren’t stressed out juggling multiple customers at once. And you tend to get better seating when there aren’t thousands of other customers fighting with you for the best seat in the restaurant. This is where Google comes to the rescue again. When you look up a restaurant, Google will tell you when the peak time is at that restaurant. Which is super convenient. You can even see which day of the week tends to be busier.
10. Perspective Is Key!
I think that having perspective is the key to not care about others’ opinions when eating alone. When you actually take a moment to think about it. Are these strangers really going to remember you three months from now? Unless you’re extremely gorgeous and caught their attention haha. But most likely, no one is even going to care that you’re eating alone. They’re probably all too busy caring about themselves and how they look.
We’re self-conscious because we think that others are taking notice of us in every moment of our lives. But the brutal truth is, you’re not as important as you think you are. Check out this article by Psychology Today on how to let go of self-consciousness, and you’ll understand why letting go of your ego can be so freeing. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a hard time not caring about what others think. Some self-consciousness can be beneficial and actually propel you to be a better version of your self. But if it’s causing you anxiety and distress, then recognizing the overpowering of your ego is an important step to take in order to live a life on your own terms.
Bone Apple Tea! Now Go Out And Enjoy Eating Alone
I hope this post has helped you overcome some of your biggest worries and fears when it comes to dining alone. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips and tricks to share regarding mastering the art of eating alone. Also, there are any restaurants that you recommend for dining solo, please let me know as well! I’m thinking about compiling a list of restaurants to eat alone in different countries and cities. And lastly, enjoy your food, travel safely, and live your best life!
For more travel tips and inspirations, make sure to check out: