What To Do At Night When You Travel Alone

It’s the nights that can be the worst when you’re a solo traveller. You’ve had an amazing day of sightseeing and taking photos, and now you’re back at your hotel room wondering whether you can be bothered to look for somewhere to have dinner on your own or, instead, resign yourself to a sad sandwich from the 7/11 and an early night.

It can feel incredibly lonely as the sun sets on another day in this amazing city you’ve been exploring. Suddenly everywhere seems a little less welcoming. Cute restaurants you walked past during the day are now reserved for candles and romance. The cool cafe you got a flat white from this morning is now hosting an intimate gig; groups of hipsters chat in dark corners, clutching cocktails.

No-one else is alone, but you are, and it’s not difficult to understand why so many people are put off by solo travel.

Beverley-leeds-blogger-2564

Jacket – ASOS

Girl Power Pin – Etsy

Ruffle front top – Miss Selfridge (sold out but similar here)

Bag – Marks & Spencer (sold out but similar here)

I’ve always been pretty independent; I’ve never had an issue going for coffee or lunch on my own, but travelling alone definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. It took me a while before I felt comfortable eating alone as a solo traveller and even longer to do anything in the evening except eat dinner and make my way back to my hotel room to work.

That’s always how I make myself feel better about not doing anything fun at night when I’m alone in a new city because think of the work I could be doing! Think of the free wifi I could be rinsing!

But I know that’s not healthy. I know, when I look back in years to come, the fact that I got some client work done in a new city, while the streets below my window filled with people bound for bar and restaurants, and theatres, I won’t be glad that I stayed in.

I’ll think, ‘what a waste.’

When you’re travelling solo for a long period of time it’s handy to stay in hostels rather than private hotel rooms. Not only are you more likely to meet more people if you’re sharing a room with strangers, but hostels often encourage socialising by organising activities you can get involved with.

I haven’t stayed in a hostel for years, though. And a lot of that has to do with the changes I’ve made in the way I travel. Now I’m much more likely to go on a solo weekend city break than a month-long backpacking trip and more willing to spend extra for a hotel room rather than staying in a dorm.

Staying in a hotel, though, does mean you have to work extra hard when it comes to what to do at night when you travel alone.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past in the evening when I travel solo, and some other ideas that I’m vowing to try out on my next trip.

What to do at night when you travel alone

Sunset from Amsterdam SkyLounge

Enjoy a drink with a view

Drinking in a bar alone, especially in a new-to-you city, can be kind of terrifying. I get it. Enjoying a drink somewhere with a beautiful view is much easier though. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because everyone’s attention is drawn outwards, to something other than the people they’re surrounded with, making you less self-conscious. Maybe watching a sun set over a city, or ferries arriving in a harbour, or people walking along the beach gives *you* something to focus on, making you less self-conscious. Either way, a solo drink doesn’t have to be scary. If the weather permits, I find that sitting outside makes me feel much more comfortable. If not, I try to get a window seat. Take a book, too, to give you something else to do with your hands.

Join a night tour

Sometimes the best time to see a city is at night. But if wandering around aimlessly doesn’t feel comfortable (and it’s totally OK if it doesn’t), book yourself onto an evening tour and join a few other tourists in discovering what’s often a totally different side to your destination. Night time tours are often more unique than your standard day-time walking tours, whether you want to find out what the best places to eat and drink are, listen to ghost stories, or just learn about the history of the city.

Go for dinner alone

Long-time readers of this blog will know that, for the most part, I’ve managed to overcome my fear of eating alone in restaurants. When I first became a solo traveller, going for dinner on my own terrified me. But eating local food is one of the best things about travelling and I was tired of missing out.

They key to going for dinner alone is to do your research beforehand to find a restaurant you’ll feel comfortable in, hold your head up high, and try not to care what others might think. Read this post for more tips on eating alone when you travel.

Wander around a museum

During the day, I like to be outside walking and taking photos, so I try to save my museum visits for early evening if it’s possible. Often, city museums are open until around 8pm at least one day of the week, which leaves enough time afterwards to grab something to eat in a restaurant or street food market and get an early night before another day of sightseeing in the morning.

bar t foodhallen amsterdam

Visit a night food market

If going for dinner feels a little formal, a night food market is a brilliant back-up option. Night markets seem to be popping up in cities across the world, and it’s not difficult to see why they’re so popular. Unlike in restaurants where you’re normally restricted to one cuisine, night food markets cater to everyone with a chilled-out atmosphere that’s great if you’re not quite ready to ask for a table-for-one.

Go to a gig

If you love going to see live music at home, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy it when you travel alone. Sure, you likely go to gigs with your friends usually, but I’ve found that no-one really notices you’re at a gig one your own once you’re standing in a crowd. Going to gig on your own when you’re travelling is also a great opportunity to find new bands and artists that you wouldn’t necessarily have come across otherwise.

Have some downtime

Do you know what? Sometimes it’s OK to just go back to your hotel, change into your PJs, and read a book or watch TV or knit or just, you know, SLEEP. Because city breaks are exhausting. Because who cares if you don’t do something fun every single night. Because it’s *your* solo trip, and you’ve no-one else to please except yourself.

What do you like to do at night when you travel alone?

Beverley x

Loneliness, Mental Health, and Diversifying My Income As a Freelancer

Comments

  1. says

    I love this. I spent a lot of time traveling alone before I met my husband so I understand everything on here. It took me ages to work up the courage to go out to dinner alone as well. Although bringing a book along as a date always helped.

    • says

      Ahh thank you, Sophie! I think when it’s a work trip you’re often so exhausted that grabbing dinner and going back to your hotel room is all your really want to do but I’m so glad you’ll be trying some of these next time! :) x

  2. says

    This is a question I’ve definitely asked myself more than once but never thought to write about it! :) Personally, I like to hunt out local indie cinemas like the snobby film fan I am as you can *sometimes* drink a beer while you’re watching the film… But this is similar to going to a gig or something if you’re a music fan. Excellent ideas!
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  3. Deirdre Fraser says

    You know what? As a longtime solo traveller I inwardly groaned when I saw the title, bc often these kinds of posts make a problem out of a non-issue (being alone is an opportunity, not a disaster). But these *are* actually good tips, and very practical to boot. Thank you!

  4. Marian says

    I’ve had great fun and met amazing people by booking dinners in local homes through Voulez Vous Diner, Eat With Locals, and Bon Appeteur.
    In addition to a great meal and a cultural connection, I usually come away with ideas for “off the beaten path” adventures, have a chance to hone my skills when buying a small
    hostess gift, and visit neighborhoods that are off the tourist track.

    Taking an evening cooking class is another fav!

  5. says

    My most frequent travel is tagging along on my spouse’s business trips. It’s a semi-solo kind of travel because he is often tied up with work in the evenings and I am generally not. I can totally relate to the pull to hide away in the hotel room or Airbnb apartment in the evening, but I’ve never regretted forcing myself to get out. It’s always a much better time than I expected. I too used to hate eating alone, but I don’t give it a second thought now. Treating myself to a high-end restaurant and a couple of glasses of good wine is my go-to evening entertainment.

  6. says

    I’ve gone on a night tour from my last trip and it was quite interesting. I met various people from couples to family groups who all had different types of stories to tell. I think it helped that the tour was small and intimate. In addition, I managed to get more one-on-one from the tour guide than if, I was on a trip with friends. Awesome tips! Thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    I think it’s a great post. I’m on my own in Paris for 3 days and I haven’t dared going to a cafe by myself. Although I am also very independent, I don’t usually eat out or sit for a drink somewhere. This evening I treated myself to 2 magazines and some nice take away food and I am chilling in my Air Bnb. Because it is indeed very exhausting, especially when we have to get up at 4.30am 😉

    • says

      It’s so funny because in Paris (and I’ve written about this in a separate post) I felt quite intimidated in a way that I haven’t in other cities, which was strange. Magazines and takeout in your Airbnb sounds pretty great thought to be honest!

  8. Netanya says

    I never comment on posts, but this is excellent. I can travel solo no problem during the day. But at night I hate eating alone. I would grab food to go and eat in my room or just skip dinner all together. It never occurred to me that other people have the same issue. I love your suggestions and your openness. Thanks so much for sharing

  9. says

    I was into ballroom dancing, mostly swing and, above all, Argentine tango. I would seek out tango venues all over Europe. It’s hard enough that if you show up and know how to dance you are instantly welcomed. You don’t have to be a pro, just to know the basics will do. It has been a great way to meet locals, to actually participate in something rather than sit alone and watch other people. I also went to a swing dance on the peripherique of Paris. Lots of dancers were in period costumes, and men were tossing women in the air. I wasn’t at that level but I spent about four hours with barely time to catch my breath between partners. Great fun. Also, I ended up in parts of cities where I never would have gone otherwise. In Rome, in the “Olympic Village,” I never sat down at a tango in a garden with live music. It’s good, clean fun.
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  10. says

    Travelling solo in the evening has always been somewhat difficult for me. It’s okay when you’re in hostels as more often than not, there’s something going on. Now i’m less likely to stay in hostels and that means socialsiing in an evening definitely gets more difficult.Going to a rooftop bar is such a good tip though and is something I’ll be doing when I go on my next little solo adventure, whenever that may be!

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