Taking myself out to dinner is now at the top of my “live like I’m on vacation” self-care list. It is a luxury I always enjoy and can do so effortlessly. There really isn’t a place I won’t dine alone, which opens up travel in so many ways. But I wasn’t always like this. Here is how I grew my confidence to be my own best date.
Step 1 – Know why you want to do thisA younger version of myself had fantasies of traveling the world, eating in exquisite restaurants, seeing art and culture. For a long time, a lack of travel companions kept me home while the need for travel got stronger and louder. Eventually, I realized, if I was going to travel, I might have to do it alone.
Step 2- Decide you are going to do itIf this is really far outside your comfort zone, pick a date in the future and make an appointment for yourself. You don’t have to pick a place or even time, (that will come next). But commit to it. If you are reading this today, great! You’ll be ready in no time.
Step 3 – Pick a spotDo you have a spot in mind? In my early 20s, I lived as a poor bohemian graduate student but dreamt of eating a meal at a fancy restaurant I drove past daily. Three months out from my birthday I started saving my pennies, made a reservation and took myself out for one of the best meals of my life. Written on the wall, above the entrance was a quote I’ve come to paraphrase often.
When you meet your maker, you will be called to account for the experiences you didn’t enjoy, not the ones you did.Don’t live with regrets! Maybe it isn’t a fancy place, but a breakfast or brunch spot you read about online, maybe a co-worker mentioned a lunch place a few towns over and you’d love to try it. Or maybe you don’t know what you want. Thrillest and Eater have great food sections you can filter and search by neighborhood or by food type. Yelp will help you see what others recommend.
Step 4 – Review the website, including the menuThere is nothing worse than getting to a place, sitting down and realizing you don’t like anything on the menu or that your budget doesn’t align to theirs. Review the menu in advance and pick at least one meal you can fall back on if you get overwhelmed easily.
Step 5 – Arrive as your most confident selfPrepare for this event as you’d prepare for a real date! Take time to primp and prep, use one of those fancy bath bombs you’ve been saving for a special occasion or break out the Sephora samples you’ve hoarded in the back of your drawer. Wear something that makes you feel great about yourself and you feel comfortable in.
Step 6 – Pick Your SeatYou have a few options when it comes to seating and all have advantages:
- Sit at the bar – This is casual and can be social. If there is an open kitchen you can keep an eye on the most popular items while you review the menu.
- Table for one – If there is a host, ask for a table for one, and smile at the end while looking them in the eye. You just told them you are confident and want a better table than they were going to take you to. You’re welcome!
- Communal Table – This can be a great way to eat in a new city while traveling. Ask your tablemates where else you should try, see or do. If they share your taste in the food they will most likely share your other interests too.