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.
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
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.
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?