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solo travel

Table for one: Tips for dining alone while traveling

Table for one: tips for dining alone while traveling

Worries of loneliness often plague beginner solo travelers.  When traveling solo you have to be willing to do things people typically do with a partner. 

What one of the top things people feel awkward doing alone?:

Going out to eat.

Questions about my solo dining experiences are always quite popular whenever I come back from a trip abroad.

So, you just ate alone in the restaurant? All by yourself? Didn't you feel awkward?

Although I have traveled alone a number of times, and often take myself out to eat, I do admit, I still feel a little awkward dining alone. It's a social norm, eating with others, so it's natural to feel a little silly at first. However, if you're dining with shame are you even dining alone?

All perceived awkwardness aside, eating alone is pretty awesome. You get to order what you want with no judgment (well, except maybe your waiter lol), you can catch up on reading, or plan where to go next. So, go ahead and get that table for one and follow these tips for dining alone while traveling.

 

1. Keep yourself busy.

One of the awkward things about eating alone is twiddling your thumbs waiting for your food to arrive. Fill up that time with something to do like read a book or write in your travel journal. I typically bring my phone so I catch up on the news, scroll Facebook, update Instagram, jot down blog post ideas, etc. 

2. Have a drink

There's something about a woman nursing a cocktail and watching the world go by that is mysterious and sexy. You can also calm your nerves with couple glasses of Rosé. 

3. Have that drink at the bar.

If you're chatty sitting at the bar might be the best option. Bars tend to have cheap food and they are more casual and social. You can chat up the bartender, who might be bored on a slow weekday night or fellow patrons also looking to converse. Some bars also have TVs you can occupy yourself with while enjoying your food. Alternatively, restaurants with communal seating are becoming increasingly popular. 

4. People watch

The timeless act of people watching and eavesdropping on others' conversations can be one of the most entertaining things you can do while eating alone. Imagining the conversations people are having or what their life story is could keep me occupied for days. When I want to people watch, I tend to ask for a table outside or near a window so I can watch people on the street. Just remember not to stare.

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5. Don't be annoying

Maybe you know what I'm talking about; the person who is overeager to converse with others, constantly trying to catch someone's eye. Don't do that. I will admit, I have been guilty of this before. I was so overeager to not sit in silence during my meal I ended up talking too much to those around me, and even tried to insert myself into someone else conversation (I know, embarrassing!). But you live and you learn. Let your conversations emerge organically, don't force anyone to have a conversation with you. Stay aware of social cues, maybe others around you just want to enjoy their food.

6. Be confident

If you look like you're comfortable, no one will think twice about the fact that you're dining alone. If you feel awkward, this is one of those "fake it till you make it" scenarios. If you're worried about people thinking it's  weird to dine alone you just have to act like it's not weird. If you show you're uncomfortable people will be able to pick up on that. 

7. Don't give #$%&.

In all honestly, no one probably even notices or cares you're eating alone. Everyone is a little self-absorbed (yes even me and you). Everyone else in the restaurant is probably concerned with their own dining experience or life problems. People are self-absorbed, just a fact of life. So, don't worry, it's unlikely anyone is looking your direction and thinking, "Aw, what a poor pathetic person eating all alone." No. No one thinks that and if they do they suck. If they are thinking about you, it's probably because they are envious of super confident, independent, and worldly-looking solo diner siting across the room (aka you).

Have any more tips on dining alone? or maybe have a funny story about your experience? Share in the comments...

Table for one: Tips for dining alone while traveling

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Going Solo: Tips for Surviving Your First Solo Adventure

Going Solo tips for surviving your first solo adventure

Why go solo?

Traveling alone can be one of the scariest and most rewarding experiences of your life. It can be scary traveling alone, especially when you’ve never done it before and especially as a female. But, for me, not experiencing everything I want to in life is much more unnerving. Fear of missing out, I guess. Although it can be daunting, traveling alone has the potential to change you. It can help you become self-reliant and build your confidence. It's also nice not having to compromise your experience with anyone else. There are no fights over where to eat or what sights to see. You are at your own whim. When you are alone you experience the world unadulterated by anyone else’s wants or desires. It is truly freeing. 

While traveling alone can be amazing, it can be hard to build your confidence up to make you trip just that. So, to help you calm your nerves I've got a few tips. 

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Don't worry too much about being lonely.

"Oh, you're going to (Blank) by yourself. Won't you be lonely?"

This is a regular inquiry I get when I tell people I'm traveling solo. Yes, every solo trip has the potential for loneliness but there are so many people out there to meet in the world, as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. Going on a solo trip doesn't mean you'll always be alone. You will be meet people along the way, especially if you stay in a hostel. You're highly likely to run into other solo travelers, just like you. On my last trip, I met upwards of ten solo travelers, in a week's time. You also might be surprised by how comfortable you will be when you are alone. You're new best friend might just be yourself.

Talk to strangers and be curious.

When you travel alone you must accept that you must put yourself out there to interact with the world. Experiences aren't just going to happen to you, you have to make them happen. Be outgoing. Talk to strangers. Ask lots of questions. You'll probably find that most travelers and locals are quite friendly and are happy to strike up a conversation. When I was in Germany alone at a music festival, I just struck up a conversation with a woman and ended up getting invited to join their group for the rest of the evening. Ended up being one the best nights of that trip.

I also believe, hostels are the best place to start with making friends If you need some tips on how to make friends while staying in a hostel, check out this guide.

Choose friendly accomodation.

Where you stay can be key to a good experience. Do your research to try to find a place that best fits your travel style. Read reviews for places, to see if other travelers enjoyed staying there or thought there was a friendly or lively atmosphere. I always recommend that solo travelers stay in a hostel because it is an obvious place to run into people like yourself. AirBnB and Couchsurfing are also great options because your host may be willing to chat or show you around. 

Sign up for group activites.

Lots of hostels host themed nights, tours, and pub crawls. Often times you just have to ask reception to see what events the hostel has going on. Don't be too shy to sign up solo for a day-trip or tour experiences You'll likely meet someone else in your group you identify with. I booked a canal cruise for myself while in Amsterdam with Get Your Guide, and by the end of it the whole boat was friendly and conversing with on another. Same thing happened with my Sunset Eiffel Tower tour. I'm glad I booked a place in a tour group rather than just seeing and walking around on the Effiel Tower alone.

Trust your gut.

Traveling alone is not necessarily any more risky than traveling with friends—but it does require extra awareness, especially for female travelers. Keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations. I'm not saying that you will for sure find yourself in an undesirable situation but solo travelers and women can be at increased risk for scams, pickpockets, and sexual violence. That fact of the matter is, the way societies treat women in some parts of the world still have a long way to go. Don't be fearful of that knowledge though, be vigilant. If you ever feel that you are in an unsafe situation, try to remove yourself from it, if you can. Be confident in saying no to people who seem suspicous, and may threaten you with a scam or some other intentions. Safety always trumps politeness. Keep in mind though, you don't always have to be on guard. Most countries in the world are not anymore violent or dangerous than your own country. Listen to your instincts and they will help keep you safe but also allow it to guide you in your adventures. 

Go with the flow.

Take advantage of your freedom and be willing to change plans or tag along with a new friend. Say yes to experiences. My first night in Amsterdam, a few weeks ago, I was super jet-lagged and was just planning on going to bed early to be well rested for a concert the next day. I ended up groggily introducing myself to a girl in my dorm when she walked in during my early evening slumber. That introduction led to an invitation to get food and in an instant, my plans had changed. Even though I was tired, I said yes and it turned into an unforgettable evening because, for the rest of the night, I decided I was down for anything. Grabbing food turned into drinks, drinks turned into going out, and somehow my night ended at 6 am at a rave/music festival in a small village in North Holland.

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Stay connected.

Let friends or family know of your plans. Check in with someone every so often from back home to let them know you're ok. If you are a US citizen, you also have the option of signing up for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, this way the government can better assist you in the case of emergency.

Be Confident.

Be confident in the way you present yourself and speak to others. Hold your head high and walk with purpose as if you know what you're doing. If you don't feel confident; fake it till you make it, as the saying goes. Confidence can make you seem approachable to others. Confidence can also deter people you don't want attention from, like scammers or even some guy who won't stop hitting on you. Also, try to research your destination so that you can walk the streets or take public transportation with little issue. 

Solo travel is exciting, it's scary, and it's one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself. Have any worries about an upcoming solo adventure? Share in the comments below and maybe I have some tips.:)

Going Solo: tips for surviving your first solo advent

How To Make Friends In A Hostel

how to make friends in a hostel

When traveling alone, staying in a hostel is a great way to meet fellow travelers. I've personally, made great friends with people I've met in a hostel and have even teamed up to explore a city or figure out the local transportation system. If your traveling a lone and worried you might not meet people where you're staying, this list is for you.

How to make friends in a Hostel

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