I do A LOT of solo traveling, particularly to Las Vegas - but I've also done solo trips to other cities including Seattle, Toronto and Los Angeles.
People often ask me what the appeal is of traveling solo.
Don't I get bored? Do I worry about my safety? What does my wife think about me traveling solo? (The answers to those questions are, in order: no, no and she's fine with it since I'm usually doing stuff she doesn't like)
A lot of folks won't take the jump and book a solo vacation, but I'm hoping my guest for this episode of the podcast might help change a few minds.
Janice Waugh is the founder of Solo Traveler World, a website & online community devoted to people who love to travel solo.
Janice & I talked about the inspiration behind her creating Solo Traveler, the best ways to plan a solo trip, the mistakes to avoid while traveling solo and how to stay safe & out of trouble when you're on your own in a strange city.
If you'd like to connect with Janice & the Solo Traveler community, visit their website at SoloTravelerWorld.com, follow them on Twitter & Instagram, or join the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
I think we've all had that experience where a bunch of time passes and we have no idea where it's gone. Whether it's while driving down the highway, surfing social media or - sitting at a slot machine in a casino in Las Vegas.
But what causes that effect? Why do our brains drift away like that and take us out of reality?
My guest for this episode of the podcast is here to help us understand.
Spencer Murch has a PhD in Psychology & Cognitive Science from the University of British Columbia and, over the last several years, has been involved in several different research projects surrounding the cognitive science of gambling. Recently, Spencer completed a study surrounding "immersion" and being "zoned in" or "zoned out" during slot play.
Spencer took the time to jump on the show with me to explain the methodology behind the study and share the results of his research. We also talked about the part slot designers play in creating that "immersion", what the future of gaming may hold and how to avoid "zoning in" or "zoning out" while playing slots.
If you'd like to learn more about the psychology of slot machines, check out:
- Research Snapshot: Exploring zoned-in or zoned-out immersion during slot machine gambling
- Research Snapshot: The relationship between dark flow, depression, and multiline slot machines
Or pick up a copy of the book, "Addiction By Design" by Natasha Dow Schull.
If you've ever been to Las Vegas, you're well aware of the unique scents of the various casinos & hotels up and down The Strip. In fact, if you ask people what one of their favorite parts of Vegas is, they'll tell you "it's the smell inside the casinos". And it seems that everyone has their own preferred scent - so much so, that there are thousands of posts online from people asking how to either purchase or duplicate their favorite casino scent.
But what's the big deal about smell? Why is the scent of a casino so important that the companies that own them spend MILLIONS of dollars on creating these so-called "signature scents"?
To get the answer, I decided to talk to an expert...
My guest for this episode is Dr. Rachel Herz, a world-renowned expert on the psychological science of smell. Dr. Herz is a cognitive neuroscientist, a TED-X speaker and a published author of both numerous research publications and several books on the topic of the science of smell.
We discussed what piqued her interest in the psychology of scent, the connection between scent and emotion & memory and how businesses use scent to affect customer behavior.
To learn more about the science and psychology of scent, visit Dr. Herz's website or follow her on Twitter. You can also pick up one of her books:
And if you want your home to smell exactly like your favorite Vegas casino, visit Aroma Retail's website and check out their "Resort Collection" which includes scents from the Bellagio, Aria, the Cosmopolitan, Luxor, the Flamingo, Mandalay Bay, Wynn and many others!
One of the most divisive and controversial topics I've ever seen discussed online is the practice of tipping. If you want to see grown-ass adults lose their minds & resort to insults in just a few short posts, jump on a Vegas-related Facebook page and ask how much you should tip for a specific service.
I do understand the confusion though; Las Vegas gets 42 million visitors per year and not all of them come from countries where tipping is customary. And if you're not prepared for it & don't budget for it, tipping can drain your bankroll pretty quickly.
But the question still remains: Who should you be tipping and how much should you be tipping them?
My guest for this episode is international etiquette expert, Jacqueline Whitmore. Ms. Whitmore is considered one of the world's foremost experts on the subject of etiquette and has appeared on dozens of TV shows as well as in multiple newspapers & magazines.
Jacqueline and I took a deep dive into the world of tipping - including tipping at restaurants & hotels, limo/taxi/rideshare drivers and even a few Vegas-specific topics like casino dealers, slot attendants & cocktail servers.
NOTE: My conversation with Jacqueline was recorded before the COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas, so whether or not these bits of advice will still be applicable when Vegas re-opens remains to be seen.
If you want to learn more about Jacqueline or you're in need of etiquette advice, visit her official website or follow her on Twitter & Instagram.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we're all a little superstitious in our own little ways. And I don't think there's anywhere in the world where that superstitious nature is on display more than in Las Vegas.
Some people have lucky shirts they wear when playing Blackjack, others tap the side of the slot machine in between spins and some refuse to use $50 bills when they're gambling.
But is there any science to superstitions? My guest for this episode of the podcast is here to answer that question...
Stuart Vyse is a behavioural scientist, a teacher and a writer. He's also an expert on superstition and irrational behaviour who's been quoted in the New York Times & Washington Post and has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning & NPR's Science Friday.
We discussed some of the most common superstitions & their origins, whether or not certain cultures are more superstitious than others and famous superstitions in the world of sports, music & theater.
If you'd like to learn more about Stuart and the world of superstitions & irrational behaviour, be sure to visit his website.
Stuart's books, "Believing In Magic: The Science of Superstition" and "Superstition: A Very Short Introduction" are both available via his website or from your favourite book seller.