Do you need to have your posse with you at all times? I’ve noticed that people who are resistant to going to Las Vegas alone often use the argument that “it just wouldn’t be the same without someone to share it with.” For the record, I have visited Las Vegas with my uncle, I have traveled to Las Vegas with a friend, and I have been to Las Vegas alone a number of times. Which is best? Truth is, they’ve all been fun trips, but in different ways.
My uncle used to live in Nevada, so he knew Vegas like the back of his hand. During my first trip, he showed me around and taught me a lot of what he knew of the city. It was fun to be able to turn to him and comment on the size of the Hoover Dam or laugh about how the horseradish that came with our prime rib dinner was so strong it made us cry. We had each other to talk to while we waited for the Blue Man Group show to start, and then got to chat about what we liked about it afterwards.
When I visited with my friend Colleen, I took on the role of the “Vegas veteran” introducing her to “my” favorite city. That, too, was fun. She wanted to see a “classic showgirl show,” so we got tickets to Jubilee! at Ballys–a show I never would have gone to see on my own. We saved money–and our waistlines!–by splitting oversized meals in restaurants. She dragged me down to the pool and introduced me to the joys of relaxing away from the constant sensory bombardment of the casinos. So I understand what people mean when they say they enjoy having someone there to share experiences with. Yes, it can be great if you have a good travel companion.
But it can also be great on your own. Many of my favorite memories of Las Vegas are solo memories. First, there was the singing cabbie. I was on my way from the airport to the Mirage when I got this friendly, talkative cabbie who told me he also was the lead singer in a band at one of the hotels on the Strip. To prove it, he sang Tom Jones’s “She’s a Lady” to me all the way to the Mirage. He sounded just like Tom Jones. It’s not every day a guy sings to me, and I loved it! (He got a good tip.)
There have been the times when I’ve bonded with strangers sitting next to me at the slot machines. People get genuinely excited for each other when someone is winning. They’re probably hoping that luck will rub off on them, but still. . .it’s a feeling of cameraderie. I’ve met folks in Las Vegas that I had interacted with on Las Vegas message forums (or Twitter) and found some genuine friends among them.
My favorite place in Las Vegas used to be the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton (RIP). Yes, I’m a big ol’ geek, and I don’t care who knows it. I’ve been a Trekkie my whole life. My uncle and my friend didn’t share my passion for it. So it was better to go alone to be around others like me who did. I could usually count on meeting another Trekkie at Quark’s Bar with whom to chat about which was our favorite Star Trek series and characters. But even if I didn’t, I was content just to be in that space, to be sitting beneath ceiling-sized ship models of Voyager and Enterprise, surrounded by sets and props and Ferengi, Borg, and Klingons, where it felt almost as if the 24th Century were real.
I attended the Decommissioning Ceremony in 2008, before the Experience was closed forever, when the place was packed and emotions were running high. I had dinner with a fan I had met on the airplane on the way to Las Vegas and two others we met while waiting in line. Later, dozens of us fans gathered around the bar to savor one last warp core breach, liquid latinum, or mind meld and share our favorite memories of the Experience. That evening will always remain a special memory for me. If I’d had to drag along a reluctant traveling companion who didn’t share my enthusiasm for it, it wouldn’t have been the same.
But I also enjoy my “alone time” in Las Vegas. I can practice my photography uninterrupted for as long as I want. Or sit and play video poker at a bar in the casino for a couple of hours. I can wander at will, people-watching, taking in the details without having to shoulder one half of a conversation. If I want to stop and watch an attraction or some performers, I don’t have to worry about a companion getting bored.
I remember sitting in St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian first thing in the morning, listening to the piped-in Italian music before the crowds of tourists streamed in. I practically had the whole place to myself. No one needed anything from me, and I had nowhere I needed to be. I could just sit and think and soak it all in. It was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life. Being alone in Las Vegas is my treat to myself, like a long, hot bubble bath or an exquisite piece of chocolate. . .only it lasts longer.
So just because you may have traveled there with others in the past and had a great time, doesn’t mean you can’t also have a great time on your own. It’s a different experience, to be sure, but can be just as rewarding in its own way.
Have you visited Las Vegas alone and also with others? Which do you prefer?