‘Eating solo’ can seem like a pretty scary concept for any wannabe solo traveller but I’m so used to it now I have to remember that some people think it’s a bit weird.
If I can do it, and even enjoy it, so can you.
IMHO eating alone can be one of the greatest things about travelling – you get to choose what you want, when you want and how much you want, with no judgement or social norms to deal with. I say make the most of the freedom.
But, if once in a while, you really would like some company and don’t have any friends, here are a few ideas on what you can do.
7 Eating Tips for Solo Travellers
(pin me, if you like)
1. Join a supper group
Have you heard of supper clubs?
Basically, they’re a great way to meet other people, both locals and tourists, and you can find them all over the world. Usually a local host will have set one up in their home, created a whole menu, provided drinks to match, and a select group of the initiated will turn up for a good feed.
I’ve been to ones in Tel Aviv (above), Knysna in South Africa, and this Gaudi-themed one in Barcelona, which was held in a super cool warehouse in El Born. I really enjoyed all of them – both for the food, and the company. Should definitely try another one actually.
How to find one: Check out companies like EatWith (who I did my experiences with) and Tourswithlocals. Most of them will put you on a table family style so you can actually enjoy some dinnertime conversation.
2. Ask around at the hostel
Oh it’s a scary thought, I know. Terrifying in fact. Stranger danger. But, if you ask around in the hostel chances are that you’ll find someone else who’s not too keen on eating solo while they’re travelling too. And the two / three / four of you can all go out for dinner together.
And if not, well, at least you tried.
How to find one: Maybe at breakfast see if anyone fancies meeting in the evening. You could just ask that person you catch eyes with over the breakfast table whether they have plans, and you’ve found this cool and cheap restaurant, would they like to come?
3. Join hostel dinners
Every solo traveller knows you need to stay at hostels when you’re travelling solo, to make friends, right? Well, it’s one of the best chances of meeting people anyways – ‘friends’ might be a push.
Plenty of hostels have BBQs or family-style dinners you can sign up for or join. Just ask at the front desk when you check in.
How to find one: Keep an eye on the hostel notice boards to see if there’s ever a group hostel dinner you can go to. If not, and you’re feeling brave, put up your own sign and invite people to join you!
4. Share a table
When I was in Kyoto I was just at a popular street food place, minding my own business and chowing down on an Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), when the waiter asked if I minded sharing my table with another solo eater.
Along came a delightful guy who I ate dinner with, and ended up having a lovely chat. Afterwards we went on to a vodka-tasting bar and had a great evening. Yeah, random, but fun.
How to find one: Go to a busy restaurant and ask if you can share a table with someone. Then find the friendliest looking person around and give them a nod and gesture to pull the chair out. You could make a new friend, or it could be totally awkward – either way it’s more exciting than being by yourself, again.
5. Go on a food tour
Oh I LOVE a good food tour.
In fact, since doing them in Montreal, Miami, Delhi, Hanoi and London, I don’t think I’d actually go on a trip now without stuffing my face on a food tour. They’re such a good way to learn more about the local food, and to meet other foodie-loving people.
I’ve met people on food tours that I’ve then spent the evening hanging out with and having a lovely time. From the get go you’ve got something in common, and it means you don’t have to dine alone. Depending on the city they’ll usually be at least one other person who’s solo for you to bond with. And even if not, the couples can be alright too!
And you get to eat – yay!
How to find one: I’d definitely recommend waiting until you’re in your destination before booking. Sometimes, especially in my experience in Asia, you can get the food tours cheaper if you walk up. Most big cities have them. Get involved!
6. Eat at a street food market
One of the best ways to eat as a solo traveller, if you’re a little nervous about sitting down by yourself, is to hit the local street food market. In many of the cities of Asia and South America these are totally commonplace and you’ll see loads of other solo travellers gorging away.
Street markets are a cheap and simple way to eat out for solo travellers, and if you do want to make friends, get chatting to the person in front in the queue or take your goodies to go and sit next to someone else who’s chomping on the same nearby.
How to find one: your hostel will definitely be able to help you with this.
7. Do a food class
Eating is such a social thing isn’t it?
One of the best ways to enjoy a shared meal when you’re travelling solo is to join a food class. I did one in Hanoi and ended up having a lovely time with the other girl in the class, and the chef. The local chef was telling us all about her life in Hanoi, as well as her experiences in creating food, and in being a woman in Vietnam. Loved it.
How to find one: Check out websites like Viator, and look for their cooking classes. Sometimes cooking classes can be annoying because they want a minimum of two people to run, so book in advance, or email before and give your dates so that when one comes up with space you can jump and take the class.
Or, just go nuts in the local supermarket and take your treats back to your room to scoff in silence.
Up to you!