While enjoying new and interesting foods is one of the best parts of travelling, dining alone can feel like one of the worst. Sitting down at a table for one is an awkward and unpleasant experience for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. Turn solo dining into an experience you’ll look forward with these mealtime tips for solo travellers.

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Pull up a Barstool

Find a restaurant with a full service bar and sidle on up. Bar seating tends to have a laid-back crowd out to have a good time – perfect for those dining alone but open to making new friends. Sip a drink, order something mouthwatering, and let the conversation happen organically. Bartenders can also make wonderful dining companions. While you should never bother a busy bartender or try to force an inorganic conversation (they are just people doing their job – which is to make drinks, not be your buddy), striking up a little chat with a bored bartender on a slow night can be fun for all involved. Try asking what their favorite thing is to do in town – you’ll get answers a guidebook can’t offer. Plus, people who work in restaurants are often doing it to support interesting but less profitable lives. If you engage with genuine interest, they’ll probably be happy to tell you about them. Find out where your bored bartender’s passion lies and ask questions – you might be fascinated by what you find out. Whether the bartender becomes your best friend or not, don’t forget to tip (if it’s appropriate in the country you’re visiting).

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Dine Al Fresco

If the weather’s nice, dining outside can be a delightfully pleasant solo dining option. Find a café with outdoor seating in a populated area, and indulge in a little people watching with your meal. Sitting and taking the time to notice the characters going by will be engaging enough to make eating alone a joy, and you’ll get to observe the city’s personality in a new way. You can also do this picnic style. Pick up carryout, deli-fare, or a self-catered meal from a grocery or market, and dine outdoors in a park or piazza. Stunning viewpoints also make prime picnicking spots – there’s something wonderful about dining right next to the water or perched on a hill overlooking the city. You’ll probably save a little money, and have a dining experience you’ll remember forever.

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Take Valuable Processing Time

While the go-to solo-dining companion tends to be a book (and literature is always a worthy choice), solo travellers may want to spend their dining time processing what they’ve seen. Jot it down in a journal, scribble in a sketchbook, or catch up on blog entries or e-mails – whatever it is you do to document and process the adventures and experiences of the day. After all, solo travel is about self-growth and self-nourishment, whether you’re nourishing body or soul. Why not combine both at the same time with a good meal and little self-reflection? You’ll leave feeling fuller in every sense of the word.