Today I have a guest post from Rona Wright, who only began traveling solo after her husband passed away. After reading her story, I thought her perspective could be useful for many readers–for other widows and widowers, divorcees, or anyone who finds themselves in a new situation of traveling to Las Vegas alone. But also for those who can’t relate to my travel style, which is very different from Rona’s. For instance, I’ve never felt the need to pretend I was married when traveling in the U.S. But I’ve been traveling solo for 20 years, so it’s perfectly normal for me. In any case, I’d say given how much she raves about her most recent solo trip, Rona has clearly become a “Vegas solo” herself. Here is her story:
I have been to Las Vegas six times; twice with my late husband, and four times as a Vegas solo. I have stayed at the Monte Carlo, Bally’s, Flamingo, Mirage, and recently the Venetian, which was the best place I have ever stayed in Las Vegas and would highly recommend to others.
This was my best solo Vegas trip ever.
Going to Las Vegas I have experienced all types of weather and holidays: Memorial Day, Christmas, July, August, November, and now April. When I went last month two out of the four days were rainy which is unusual for Las Vegas, according to the people I spoke with, but it was a welcome relief for them due to drought conditions. Actually it was quite comfortable, not humid, and it did not deter me or others from enjoying ourselves. As I always say, if you can’t find something to do in Vegas, shame on you.
It has been close to six years since my husband passed and it has been quite an adjustment to traveling without him, but I have always felt safe in Las Vegas and for an over 50 widow this means a lot. You think differently since there is no one around to protect you and henceforth your priorities change. I would prefer to go with a companion, but in all honesty, most people I have met are not interested in traveling to Las Vegas and some people I prefer not to travel with so I go it alone. My husband really enjoyed Las Vegas and when I walk around the sights I think of him and the great times we had here.
Going to Vegas as much as I have, you expect long lines for check-in and waiting for your luggage, but this time everything went without a hitch which I took as a good sign. A little tip for solo travelers flying on Southwest and perhaps other airlines: Pay the extra money for preboarding; you don’t have to take your shoes off in the TSA line which saves time. In my case, since I was traveling alone, the TSA moved me through the line more quickly, and I was advanced to my departure gate in a timely fashion.
From the sedan service to the airport, to check in at the Southwest terminal, everything was great, my flight was not too bumpy or turbulent (I am not a fan of flying) and my early arrival at the Venetian was wonderful; I got the room I wanted at no extra cost; which surprised me.
I had booked a room in the Venezia Tower but unbeknownst to me, I learned it was the tower far removed from the action, and being alone, I wanted to be in a central location. My request for a room on a lower floor in the Venetian Tower was honored. In the past, when I checked into other hotels, I was put at the very end of the hall, which was rather disconcerting and during the stay I ended up relocating to another room which meant I had to pack everything up and go to another floor. My location here was perfect.
As a solo/widow, I felt the most comfortable at the Venetian; there was a nice class of people walking through the property who were well groomed and the staff was very respectful. It had been years since I saw weddings in a casino and it was rather refreshing to see couples tastefully dressed milling about the casino. The Venetian, a five star property, lives up to its reputation of style and elegance.
The location of the Venetian is perfect for me, across from the Fashion Show Mall, my favorite place to shop, and having a Walgreens in the connecting sister hotel, The Palazzo, is a wonderful place to get snacks, souvenirs, and alcohol at a reasonable cost. WaIgreens is one of my favorite mainstays; something I am familiar and comfortable with.
The location of the Venetian is in close proximity to my favorite casinos; Casino Royale, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Bellagio, and Planet Hollywood. The old with the newer Vegas.
This is also a great area to catch the Deuce Bus; the public transportation system on the Strip. You are not far from Fremont Street or across the street you can catch the bus up to Mandalay Bay while the bus is not that crowded.
The highlights of my trip were seeing The Righteous Brothers perform (located in Harrah’s) and getting a picture with two Elvis impersonators. Talking with the two Elvises I learned a little bit of Vegas history. Where else can you have a conversation like that, plus they were generous in making sure I had clear pictures for my memories of Vegas.
When I go to Las Vegas, I always make sure I see a concert. As a solo/widow, being alone with yourself all the time gets boring and concerts do take up part of the day/night. Also I love the concerts Las Vegas has to offer; it is one of my reasons for coming.
The Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley and his new partner, Bucky Heard, were fantastic. I requested an aisle seat which is good for a solo traveler; this way you do not stand out in the crowd. If you need to exit, you are not stepping over someone or vice versa. Sometimes when you travel alone, there are couples who may not speak to you, but the lady next to me was very friendly and we had a nice chat before the concert started.
Harrah’s main concert area was quite impressive, yet had an intimate setting with a combination of seats and tables. I am glad I had a seat instead of a table. When I saw a concert at the Flamingo in 2014 I was placed at a table with two couples and as they say five is a crowd. It was as if I was non-existent plus I was pushed at the end of the table.
The usher and bar staff were very polite at Harrah’s unlike the Flamingo. It was not a joint.
The reason I am mentioning these details is that when women are traveling alone at a certain age they are looked upon as an oddity. Most people over 50 are usually married and when you are alone you are treated differently unlike when you were younger. It is an unspoken rule. When I travel alone I wear a wedding ring to not appear available, but I have noticed that when you are not part of a couple, many women are rather apprehensive in talking with you, in particular when they are with their husbands in a group setting.
Upon writing about being an over 50 solo in Vegas, I observed that many of the tourists are in my age group and beyond; retired or coming here from other countries to celebrate birthdays, other events, or just wanting to see a part of America.
When I was dining in a restaurant near the Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, the female server asked where my husband was. I must have looked lonely or she was curious why I was alone. I gave the standard pat answer my husband is in the casino. She seemed concerned. I was not offended, but wondered what difference does it make? You have to eat. She might have also thought I had an inconsiderate husband who gambled away our money which is something I am sure happens.
Telling someone you are a widow is not a wise idea and I would not recommend total honesty. Besides it is no one’s business.
Going solo anywhere takes courage and a sense of adventure; something to be proud of, not to be pitied. You are making things happen instead of waiting for things to happen. That is how I look at it. I know of women who have traveled alone for business and for pleasure, and they agree with me, but at the same time they do not disclose going solo due to crime and this social stigma.
Many people I have met find this rather peculiar and sad that I travel alone. Haven’t you met someone who wanted to attend a special event such as a ballgame or concert, but will not go since they have no one to go with? We are a special breed and that is a good thing.
A great way to experience restaurants in Vegas for a reasonable price is going on a Las Vegas Foodie tour. You meet like-minded people and get to sample foods from restaurants you may have never considered as a single and, of course, for a lower price. I booked an afternoon Lip Smacking Foodie Tour in front of the Aria and from there the group sampled foods at the Herringbone, Jaleo, and Javier’s restaurants, and Hexx, a chocolatier.
Donald Contursi, the President of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, was our guide. Donald was very informative and couldn’t be more accommodating. We ate at a leisurely pace, sampling small portions of these unique foods. Amazingly, you leave feeling full and satisfied. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could eat like this every day?
This tour was perfect for me, it ended early evening giving me time to walk, shop, and gamble. There are foodie tours for the Fremont Street area as well as a dinner tour.
Usually when I drink a cocktail, I have one at a casino while playing the slots, but after learning about happy hours I decided upon the recommendation of the Venetian staff to try the Grand Lux Café. The seating was very comfortable and I noticed a booth occupied by a “solo” woman as well, which made me feel less conspicuous. Their drink specials are very reasonable so I had a margarita for $5.50 which you can’t beat and for another $5.50, Asian lettuce wraps. I had an enjoyable healthy meal for under $20.00.
Another thing which most of you know: Tip generously. The employees at these casinos work hard and showing appreciation bodes good will. As a solo, you can feel vulnerable being alone and might feel uncomfortable requesting extra service; but I found being polite and tipping generously vs. little to no tipping makes for better relationships with the staff.
Since my husband passed, I have formed my own traditions, and while in Vegas on my last day before going home, I take the Deuce Bus as a farewell gesture to the city I love. I went to my other favorite casino, Mandalay Bay; it is so peaceful, and quiet. The slots are great and of course I had to buy something there.
Things are ever changing, but much to my surprise and pleasure, The Las Vegas Sock Shop is still at Mandalay Place on the second floor. If you love unique socks, this is the place to shop. They have animal themed socks, sports socks, coffee theme socks, wine theme socks, and other types of socks imaginable. It is a great place to buy gifts (which I did) and of course, I bought some socks for me. The prices are reasonable as well.
Before heading back to the Venetian, I stopped at the Miracle Mile Mall in the Planet Hollywood Casino to gamble and browse the shops. As a custom, I bought cookies at the Nestle Cookie shop which are delicious. I looked around for the last time at the sights and sounds of Vegas and walked back to the Venetian.
I think I have mastered Vegas for me by not overscheduling events and just going about at a leisurely pace. This was a trip of reflection and relaxation. It has been a month since I have been to Las Vegas, and those pleasant memories are still with me, but slowly fading with time. Despite that, I am thinking of when I will return again.