Gray Cargill: Solo travel blogger, writer, amateur photographer.
Location: South Burlington, Vermont
Gray has been travelling to Vegas by herself roughly once a year since 2001. Her blog VegasSolo.com includes experiences and tips for Vegas goers.
Q: Do you always travel to Las Vegas by yourself?
A: Pretty much always. I have been there with my uncle and once with a friend of mine but most of my trips have been solo. I go everywhere by myself–I am a solo traveler. That’s what I have been doing since the late nineties. Why would Vegas be any different than anywhere else? I started (traveling solo) out of circumstance. I didn’t really have anyone to travel with, and I got sick of waiting for someone to travel with. When you feel like you have to go with someone else then you also have to wait for their schedule to free up and for them to have the money and for them to have the interest in the same destination that you do and that’s a lot of waiting and a lot of maybes. For me, I just like the freedom and flexibility of being able to go when it is convenient for me and where I want to go and do what I want to do.
Obviously there is a price difference. If you travel with somebody you can share costs. Solo travellers have to foot the entire bill themselves. My travel style might be different–maybe I don’t stay at the 4-5 star hotels all the time. I am pretty frugal in my everyday life though.
Q: Even though you go alone what is the social aspect of travelling alone
A: When I first started going I was rarely social. But it’s so easy to chat with people, you know, meet people casually, like 5 minutes here and there. My favorite icebreaker is if you’re in elevator or in a line just turn and ask “So are you winning?” Most people gamble and even if they are not gambling they will just tell you what they have been doing.
In my early years I pretty much was solo. I didn’t go too far out of my way to meet people. Then I started to get into a lot of Vegas message forums and most of them have “meet and greets.” I went to a couple of “meet and greats,” and I had alot of fun meeting people in person that I had “met” in the forums. You get to meet others you already know you have a lot in common with, which is this passion for Vegas. I have actually maintained some friendships through the years with those people.
Q: Which forums are you using?
A: I used to use a message board called OpenVegas.com and another called Vegas Watch. I know Tripadvisor has a big Vegas forum and people are always sending meet and greats in there. I don’t have as much time for forums any more, but Twitter’s really good for meeting people, too.
Over the years slowly but surely I have met a variety of people and some live in Las Vegas so I try to see them when I am out there. Some actually don’t live in Las Vegas, but they go regularly and if we go at the same time we’ll get together and do some things. It has become a really comfortable place for me to go. I know if go there I can be social. I think a lot of people when they think of solo travel they think lonely. They say “I would be too lonely without my friends” or “I wouldn’t have fun.” Not true at all!
Actually in some ways it’s easier to meet people when you’re alone because when you are with your friends, you’re focusing on your friends. You can become a self contained little bubble. But if you are there by yourself you’re more open and people can sense that.
Q: What is the one thing you try to do every time you are in Vegas
A: I am kind of an amateur photographer so obviously I like to go around and take photos. You might think “gosh well haven’t you taken photos of everything by now?” It’s a challenge for me to find new angles and new lighting and of course there is so much that springs up every year. (See Grays photography here)
In terms of Las Vegas attractions or tours… I feel like it’s not really a trip to Vegas until I have seen the Bellagio Fountain Show, preferably at night. That’s a must do for me. I try to get down to Fremont Street every trip. The Downtown experience is so different from the Strip experience. I like to get both experiences, but it all depends on how long the trip is and what I have going on.
Q: Can you share any bargains or money saving tips?
A: How much time do you have? I obviously have written blog posts by category on how people can save on hotels, flights and such. One thing I think is really smart and something I learned when I first started going to Vegas–and anyone going to Vegas needs to do this—is sign up for all the hotels’ guestbooks that you are interested in. They will send you deals by email. Follow all their social media accounts, they often post deals on there. Once you are in Vegas, signup for all of the player’s club cards. If you are a member of the players club, you will definitely hear from them. I am a total guppy (not a whale) when it comes to gambling. I am the most frugal gambler. And still, I have actually had hotel rooms offered to me. Not as much lately, though.
Q: Any websites you would like to recommend?
A: One website I really like a lot is i4vegas.com. They often have good room deals. I like using it to get a good baseline to get an idea of what prices will be like during the week I am going. Then I can shop around on other sites to see if I can find anything better.
Q: Anything else you would like to add about traveling to Vegas?
A: Yes, The thing that I hear the most from visitors to my website is this: People often fall into solo trips to Vegas, and they are nervous about them. They’re like “I was going to with my friends but they backed out and I don’t know if I should go.” And I say “Yes Yes Yes Go! You will have a great time trust me!” Inevitably I hear back from most people: “Oh my God, it was great!” or “I had a great time!” or “I loved it.”
“Give Vegas solo travel a try at least once. I have a feeling you will probably want to do it again, and again, again!”
- Gray Cargill
Brendon’s notes:: I’ve been in the Vegas business a long time now and sometimes it’s easy to forget that Vegas isn’t really about the largest club or latest slot machine. What are most enjoyable is the people we experience it with or who we meet along the way. It’s kind of funny that Gray’s solo trip help remind me of that. Buying one plane ticket, ordering one cocktail and finding new friends to watch the fountains with is there really a better bargain than that?
Brendon has been in the Las Vegas travel industry for the past 15 years. As a frequent traveler to sin city he maintains a respect for Americas playground.