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Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. www.indianajo.com is the place where she shares destination details, travel itineraries, planning and booking tips and trip tales. Her aim: to help you plan your travel adventure on your terms and to your budget.

64 Responses

  1. Ridley Fitzgerald
    Ridley Fitzgerald at | | Reply

    I like what you’ve said about dining alone. I travel a lot for my work, so I’m always eating by myself. It’s smart to do some research beforehand to find the best place to go, instead of wandering, like I normally do!

  2. Martin Brentnall
    Martin Brentnall at | | Reply

    Great article, very interesting and informative!

    I moved abroad from the UK, but I was reluctant to dine alone for a few years. A friend eventually convinced me that it’s not unusual, so I just went ahead and tried it, and it turns out that my biggest problem was just getting over the mental hurdle of thinking it’s weird. I practically never feel awkward while actually doing it.

    Since then, I’ve also started taking vacations alone, visiting London, Dublin, Rome, and Prague over the last few years. I’m also going to Disneyland Paris next week, and Tokyo in September, and I can’t wait to try lots of real Japanese food while I’m there!

    The only problem I still have is restaurants that give discounts to couples, as this feels like a form of discrimination. For example, there’s a restaurant in my town where I would pay €25 for a three course meal on my own, whereas two people together would pay €20 each for the exact same thing. The restaurant couldn’t give me any explanation for this, so I ended up leaving some very negative reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook, etc. to make people aware that the restaurant has policies of discrimination.

  3. Bethany Birchridge
    Bethany Birchridge at | | Reply

    I like that this article recommended going to eat out as an alter-ego so that you feel more confident and out-going. Eating out alone can be a daunting task and I always worry that people are judging me. In Japan, certain restaurants will sit customers with stuffed animals or live animals so they feel more comfortable eating alone.

  4. Donna
    Donna at | | Reply

    What a great article! As a single woman in my 50s, I travel all over Europe alone. When dining out, I pretend I am on a business trip. It’s kind of like your alter-ego idea. It puts me completely at ease!

    Also, sometimes I’ll sit at the bar and order food there when its available. I usually end up befriending the other couples around me. I had a wonderful night in Quebec City’s Chateau Frontenac this way a few months ago.

  5. Amy Harrison
    Amy Harrison at | | Reply

    What a great article!

    I was actually forced into becoming a solo dinner long ago. I went on a summer long Europe trip with a friend who essentially dumped me to pursue a mad passionate fling with a guy she met on day one. Boom, shy 19 year-old me was on a 65 day backpacking tour solo.

    This what i got from that experience:

    – I bring a book., phone etc. and as soon as I start obsessing that others are watching me… read the book… But I also try to not hide behind props too much..taking in your surroundings on full observation mode is the best part!! This is easier the older and more practiced i get. I also just care less about what others think…blessings that come with laugh lines/

    -There are 2 types of solo dining The first is to be alone…sit at a table. The second is to meet others.. sit at the bar. Depends on my mood. and this method is not fool proof! I met one of my best friends sitting a table for one in Madrid Spain.

    – You are so right about avoiding peak times for solo dining… it is often awkward. If you really want to be alone, it is really no fun to read the newspaper in the middle of a party. If you want to meet others; Coming a little before peak.. and you will warm up with place..

    – But different from you- I order the weirdest most adventurous food when alone.. I can really take in the new experience.

    – Talking to strangers… is good! At first, I would only talk to those who approached me… but eventually it was me striking up conversations.

    And I also had to learn to end conversations that no longer interested me. And to avoid conversations with people with people that creep me out. Also there are times i really do want to be alone… so I learned to say- “I really want to be alone, but please have a nice day”

    You just have to be open, but still know and enforce your boundaries

    – I really like eating alone.. it is addictive and now I seek it out.

    – Going to museums by yourself is even better

    – That friend with the crazy fling… the fling didn’t last… our friendship didn’t last either But I had the time of my life.. met many life long friends, and I learned so much about…. everything!!! It changed me completely.

  6. Ruby Penrod
    Ruby Penrod at | | Reply

    I love how you mentioned enjoying some people watching while dining out. I go out to eat by myself during my lunch hour at work and my favorite thing to do while I eat is to just sit back, relax, and observe people. I appreciate you writing this article about dining out alone, sometimes you just need to be by yourself.

  7. Michelle Joyce
    Michelle Joyce at | | Reply

    Sometimes going out for a good lunch at Panera’s does the trick for me. I’ve seen a solo eaters often here and there that serve as a reminder that I am not the only one who eats out solo. Paneras can be a relaxing place for you to just sit and do your own thing-be it reading, working, blogging, or just enjoying your food. Eating out at a diner alone, I have yet to do but sometime soon I might just treat myself to a meal somewhere.

    People watching can be fun, table bingo I hadn’t ever thought of before but I’d be definitely willing to try it out as it sounds fun!

  8. Jeanette
    Jeanette at | | Reply

    Great article! What I have a problem with is the other diners who seem to have a problem with someone dining alone. I have heard on more than one occasion “You’re by yourself?! Why don’t you come join us?” Although it’s nice of them to offer I resent the attention it puts on me. One time, after a date, I was headed home after midnight and decided to stop at Denny’s for breakfast. There was another man dining alone and he insisted on joining me. I really was not interested because I just wanted to eat real fast and go home. For some reason this man assumed I’d be happy for him to join me. He would not take no for an answer. I know I sound antisocial but what I don’t like is what we lone diners try to avoid, the attention. What is wrong with people? They think it’s a disgrace for someone to eat alone? My sister, after becoming a widow, tried dining out alone. She experienced the same problems and just started getting her food to go.

  9. Lorena
    Lorena at | | Reply

    Eating out solo tonight since my hubby is on travel. It was fun and I took my time. No one rushing me as usual. 😊

  10. 20 Tips for Eating Out Alone – From A Seasoned Solo Diner | Indiana Jo – orendarising
    20 Tips for Eating Out Alone – From A Seasoned Solo Diner | Indiana Jo – orendarising at |
  11. Bonnie
    Bonnie at | | Reply

    what a relief to come across your column! I was in Florence recently and waiting endlessly after putting my name on a list- finally suspecting that others were being seated before me… I walked off in an angry huff!
    Good to know it wasn’t (exactly) personal.
    My goal is to travel solo over the next decade- I’ll be your newest subscriber ; )
    Bonnie

  12. Delores
    Delores at | | Reply

    I really enjoyed all the comments. I am a widow and planning my first solo date. I am not shy so I hope that helps. I plan to start with lunch first and graduate to dinner at a fine restaurant that I would be going to with my husband if he was still alive. I will check back and let you know how things go.

  13. Roberta bedard
    Roberta bedard at | | Reply

    I’ve been dining alone for years, had no idea it was supposed to be difficult. If asked if just one, I’ve been known to turn to whomever is behind me and ask if they will be my new grandchild. When they say “no”, I say ” yes then, one”. We all laugh and I get friendly service. Works well.

  14. 5 Market Research – Fantasía Viviente
    5 Market Research – Fantasía Viviente at |
  15. Laura Isabel Flores
    Laura Isabel Flores at | | Reply

    Hi Jo! I loved your article. I always thought of solo-dining as an art that would be perpetually hard to master. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything. It is. I only decided to face my solo-dining fear recently.
    A couple of weeks ago I gathered the courage to take myself out on my first solo-date! It turned out wonderfully. I currently live in Las Vegas and there are literally hundreds of restaurants! I decided on a local pizzeria that turns out to be one of those neat hole-in-the-wall pubs. I met the owner Frank who was friendly and warm and we ended up talking politics and Mexican food. We spoke and joked like old pals through most of my meal so I didn’t even feel alone. After lunch, I treated myself to a movie: The Glass Castle. I cried my way through the film and if I could re-live that day, I would.
    Today I went out on my second date. This time I visited IHop. Originally I wanted to have breakfast with my bestest girlfriend but it turns out she had already eaten with her boyfriend. My stomach was not forgiving so I decided to go for it. Because it was Labor Day I figured it might be a bit disastrous but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. At the door I was greeted by an exhausted hostess, ‘Just for one?’ I felt dread and a bit of blood rush up to my face. Yes!, I piped up. There was one waiter and he was on fire (not literally). I was sat in a tiny hidden section and there wasn’t enough room for my laptop and me. I huffed. The dining room was loud and full of families and friends in groups of three and fours and I felt a bit out of place. I decided to order. I’m not a huge coffee fiend but asked for a cup so I had something to fiddle with in the meantime. I took out my notebook and quickly became engrossed in my writings. I switched between emails and my Instagram Account and after a while the place started to simmer down. My food arrived. I listened to a mother and her three year old chat across from me as I wolfed down my pancakes, eggs, hash browns, fruit and avocado slices. The conversations were funny and sweet and absurd. I laughed internally and smiled broadly. Later a girl around my age visited the restaurant to dine on her own as well. She seemed peaceful and relaxed. I eased up. I finished my whole meal. The waiter seemed satisfied at my clean plates and became friendlier as the restaurant buzzed down even more. I gave him a nice tip and my outing came to an end.
    I’ve tried making my dining-for-one experiences fun and thought of them more as dates and that is why I think I’ve enjoyed them so far. Everyone should treat themselves to a date for one at least once. They’re empowering. Yes, people stare but that’s what people do when they don’t understand something. Screw it.
    My piece of advice for others: OWN IT! Really, own it. Take a book of your choice or a notebook or your laptop. Go. Bring your appetite with you. I’ve found that my waiters are especially curious and friendly when you finish a large meal. I almost feel like they are egging you on: finish the large pizza on your own! Smile, chat with the waiter/waitress, ask about their best dish, ask for two desserts, ask how their day is going, really enjoy your experience. Always, always finish your meal. When others see that you are enjoying your own company, they become intrigued and enjoy your presence as well.

  16. Donna
    Donna at | | Reply

    I love the “bingo” idea! So fun! Thanks, from a single gal.

  17. Shannon
    Shannon at | | Reply

    This was a really helpful read!! Thanks for the confidence boosting tips! ??

  18. Sammi
    Sammi at | | Reply

    Thank you for this article! 🙂 I am traveling alone for the first time and heading to Hong Kong. What makes me most nervous is dining alone during my trip which is frustrating to me.. this article had some great ways to shift my thinking! Also, bringing along a travel guidebook is something I will definitely do! Great idea! haha

  19. Kevin B
    Kevin B at | | Reply

    I like you am mostly a single diner, and I do agree with pretty much all of your comments: I also, like you, dread the “how many” at the start of the meal. It is so humiliating. Plus being stuck in a freezing corner to keep me away from intruding on any possible romantic couples is also very annoying, too. I also endlessly get people thinking at I am the “boss” from head office, and I am only there to critique their performance. Oh, how many people who have cleaned before me when I am eating! I so endlessly have to calm so many people down. Or, more annoyingly, the things that most women miss: The bravado
    of most guys who, if they can — and most do, pick seating arrangements to make darn sure that I notice that their with their girlfriends/wife’s, and try to make me endlessly jealous to puff up their enormous egos. I simply don’t care as, of course, I have “been” with women myself. But, it doesn’t stop these boneheads from trying to get my goat.

  20. Dennis Sanchez
    Dennis Sanchez at | | Reply

    I love what you said about trying their lunch or coffee before deciding if you want to try their full dinner meals. My friend is planning on doing a bit of traveling over the course of a few months, and he was curious as to how to find the best local diners. I’ll make sure he tries out something small, as that is generally a good indicator of the quality of their food.

  21. Why Solo Restaurant Dining is Hard and What to do About it
    Why Solo Restaurant Dining is Hard and What to do About it at |

    […] or breakfast in a café is a better start. As blogger Indiana Jo points out in her super list of 20 tips for eating out alone, something about breakfast and lunch is less intimidating than dinner as a […]

  22. journeyofnadine
    journeyofnadine at | | Reply

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing. I’m dining alone quite often, but still it doesn’t feel comfortable.. I see myself finding distractions so I don’t feel awkward about being alone. You mention this in tip 12 as well, but actually I don’t like doing this as it’s a kind of conformation that you don’t feel confident and on ease about dining alone without the props. I tried once to switch of my phone and just be in the moment, but damnnn time goes really slow then! You’ve experienced this as well?

    Quite some things you mention about dining alone I’ve experienced myself as well. I have been rejected because I was JUST one pretty much! I was at the Lake District in the UK, so many groups and couples there.. I just wanted a quick healthy bite as I was going to the theatre after. Everything was full and at the end I ended up in a restaurant sitting in a relaxing area with couches and chairs and had to eat my meal, which I had too wait for over 40 mins, on my lap!! I felt so embarrassed.. And because it took so long I had to run to the theatre to be on time! Pfff.. not my best “dining alone” experience, haha. Luckily I have had quite some other nice experiences as well 🙂

    This summer I will start an adventure full of dining alone experiences as I’m going traveling on my own to South America!! Quiting my job, leaving everything behind and ready to start exploring the world!

  23. Mike Rogers
    Mike Rogers at | | Reply

    This was a brilliant write-up. As a fellow blogger just now getting comfortable with going out alone it really resonated. My biggest fear has always been what other people think of me. I know how rediculus that is, so I’m in the middle of ridding myself of such a nonsensical phobia. I’m finally at the point know where I’m actually starting to love going out to do things all by myself. It’s quickly becoming my preference, in fact.

  24. Jodi
    Jodi at | | Reply

    I am a European 23-year-old girl doing an internship in South Africa and I went to get take-out pizza yesterday. Maybe next time I will dare to just sit down and eat there or somewhere else. Otherwise I will start feeling like a hermit, because three months is a long time… Thanks for the tips.

    1. Jodi
      Jodi at | | Reply

      One of the things stopping me is that I already get stared at a lot when I am just walking around on my own. It’s uncomfortable, but I made myself enjoy a long walk this afternoon.

  25. Courtney
    Courtney at | | Reply

    I ate out alone for the first time on Sunday at a Brewery I had never been too and I was scared out of my wits! They placed me at a table (with 4 chairs) smack dab in the middle of the dining floor and I could swear I felt everyone watch me get ranch all over my hands or every time I reached for my phone I heard everyone thinking “Oh, shes one of THOSE.” But I enjoyed myself! And I can’t wait for my next outing!

  26. Getting Around Solo in Croatia - Little Things Travel Blog
    Getting Around Solo in Croatia - Little Things Travel Blog at |

    […] alone in a restaurant can be a daunting experience if you’re not used to it. But practice makes perfect. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel doing it. If you really must sample fine […]

  27. Inna
    Inna at | | Reply

    Anyways, my usual trick for any uncomfortable situation is to smile and, well, act normally, if I’m not doing anything wrong.

  28. Inna
    Inna at | | Reply

    I guess, a lot depends on the area indeed. I’ve managed to go on eating solo for years not knowing at all that it was such an issue (and I’m a girl, and a rather shy one). Including travels to some predominantly Muslim countries. And not before I got to a popular island resort did I feel something was wrong 🙂 But then, it might be not the waiters or the people around, but my own feeling that I miss my friends (though I adore travelling and having meals on my own, sometimes there’s too much of a good thing)

  29. Marie
    Marie at | | Reply

    It has been 2 years since I ate out alone. More often I have been just getting it to go. Or going out with Family to eat. Today was the day I decided to go out and eat alone at a Restaurant I haven’t revisited for about 1-2 years. I felt it was a disaster. First of all I did dress in something I haven’t worn out in public yet. Then I went to the wrong door that was the old front entrance and is no longer. They changed everything. I complimented the gentleman on the establishment’s new renovations. They did do a great job. Then flopped into the booth oh so ever clumsy. They did ask me 3 times total if it was just for one. Then the menu….The menu was updated and had all new things to choose from. As excited I was to have such a selection, I also needed a lot more time to look..they kept asking also about 3 times if I was ready to order yet. I was so unprepared. Then I forgot to not put your utensils on the plate unless you are ready for them to take it. This experience is what brought me to this article. Well written I must say. Great tips on dining for one. I do however now feel bad for the 2 dollar tip I left because I thought they were being rude. Really I should had been better prepared. My typical tip dining alone is always 5 at least if not more unless I’m sitting at the bar.

  30. Alone But Not Lonely: The Reality of Solo Travel
    Alone But Not Lonely: The Reality of Solo Travel at |

    […] Still a little bit nervous about dining alone? Check out this article by Indiana Jo entitled “20 Tips for Eating Out Alone – From A Seasoned Solo Diner” […]

  31. Tiny
    Tiny at | | Reply

    I never had a problem eating solo, probably because I live in an area full of working singles so it is common seeing solo eaters. That kind of just goes with me since I guess I have the alter ego of ‘I am on a business trip so being solo is normal’ mentality. Personally, I love places that have bars or counters; they have the solo person in mind if you feel awkward about looking out of place. I love chatting with the bartender since they recommend food/drinks and even sites to see. But I also love a good glass of wine with my meal;)

  32. jonny
    jonny at | | Reply

    Istanbul helped me get over my fear of dining alone. No way was I going to miss out on those kebabs due to social anxiety! Now I don’t think twice about eating alone whilst travelling.

  33. Murissa
    Murissa at | | Reply

    Great post Jo!
    I have learned to dine alone and it really doesn’t bother me anymore as long as I have my phone and a book of some kind. Even my own writing book to jot down story ideas. I consider it having dinner with myself where I ask questions about my day and get some creativity out while I have the time.

  34. Ed
    Ed at | | Reply

    Great post. I used to be a bit depressed about dining alone too but I’d worked out many of these on my own over the years. I didn’t remember ever having the “save your seat” prop though and that is a good one. I must be the camel you mentioned…

  35. Becky
    Becky at | | Reply

    Great tips! I eat out on my own semi-frequently when traveling and have no self-consciousness at breakfast or lunch, but agree it seems to be more taboo at dinner (especially at nicer restaurants). Still, dining is a big part of my travel experience and I won’t give it up just because I’m solo!

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