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Solo travel 101: Lesson #1 – How to eat alone

We’ve all been there at one point, or another, haven’t we? At an eating establishment alone?

Even if it’s not when you’re not usually one to travel alone, admit it- you’ve dreaded the thought. Because let’s face it, eating alone has a certain stigma attached to it.

And we’ve tried everything to avoid the scenario. Like, the fake phone call from our friend Sally, whose daughter has taken ill, and has to bail on lunch as a result (note to self: turn phone on silent before attempting fake phone call in future).

Then there are those of us you who have a fake significant other who has suddenly decided to stand us up on our dinner date! How dare he (or she)! We’ve ‘broken up’ with them in front of other customers over the phone, only to have the Johnny Depp look-alike of a waiter come over with a chocolate mousse for dessert, and his condolences.

Not that I’ve ever pulled something like that, mind you. Nope, not me. (Read: OK, so I sort of have… But there’s more to that story. Also, it was really good mousse! Will explain later perhaps…)

Anyhow, without further ado, I give you-

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Alone

1. Table for two

Walk into the swanky restaurant that has a 4.8 rating on Urbanspoon and ask for a table for two. Because, duh, you’re going to pull the fake phone call scenario!

2. Food critic undercover

Take a notebook, a pen, a camera, and some spectacles with you (the type you can hang around your neck when necessary). Adopt a pretentious name, and perhaps a French accent, because you studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu obviously. Nibble, take notes, take photos, and make those waiters and waitresses sweat!

3. Take a book

For the experienced solo traveller who has no hang ups about eating alone but just wants to switch things up whilst eating alone, ditch your phone for a book or magazine.

4.Smile at the hottie next to you

I’ve often found whenever I’m alone, I end up sitting right beside or right opposite a rather attractive gent who resembles Matt Bomer. And sometimes we’ve had great conversations, and sometimes his IQ has been lower than a dinner plate’s. Either way, company is company if you’re desperate for it!

5. Be mysterious and write in a journal

Work that whole ‘I could be a vampire from Twilight or the next Hemingway’ vibe, and scribble away in a journal. Bonus points if you write poetry, and order Scotch midday.

6. Sit at a communal table

This is still somewhat of a new concept to me. Apparently a lot of restaurants nowadays (read: hipster restaurants nowadays) have a table for people who’re alone or who didn’t make a reservation in advance… not the worst way to meet a few people if you’re travelling.

7. Accept that you’re doing this alone, and it’s no big deal

Whoop-dee-doo! You’re alone. So what? If you’re uncomfortable, great! You’re moving outside of your comfort zone. If you’re worried about what people think, don’t! You’re independent, and don’t need company every time you dine outside. Sit back, order a glass of wine, and enjoy the meal you went out to enjoy.

In a nutshell: If you're well out of your comfort zone, on the solo dining front, try the 'baby steps' approach. Rather than diving in the deep end with a solo dining experience at a restaurant at a foreign country, try going out for a solo coffee in your hometown. Then step it up to a wine, and then a dinner. And before you know it, you'll be that self-assured guy or gal (yes, people are still saying 'gal' ) who is sat alone in a Michelin-starred restaurant enjoying a four course meal.

Anyone else pulled any weird stunts dining alone? Anyone avoid it at all costs? Drop a comment below and let me know (oooh, that rhymed!)

Image via, 'Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos', photographer Helena Martinez

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