As I ready myself for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas (by drinking liberally and throwing money into a trashcan), I couldn’t help but wonder: is it possible to do Vegas on the cheap? I soon found out that the answer, my friends, is yes.
There’s no question Las Vegas knows how to take care of the 40-plus million tourists that take in the Strip every year.
When should you go?
Typically, you can save quite a bit of money if you go somewhere during the right time of year. For example, Florida is, in general, more expensive during the winter, and less expensive during the summer. Last fall I took a trip to the Beaver Creek area of Colorado and was able to save a bunch because it was before ski season started.
Unfortunately, Las Vegas is different. It doesn’t really have an off-season. Even during the summer when it’s frickin’ hot people flock there. Just look at their monthly visitor numbers. It’s shockingly steady all year long.
With that said, there is still a time when you can go to get a slightly bigger bang for your buck. And that is during the middle of the week, when hotels tend to be cheaper.
Transportation while there
Unless you plan on taking a drive to the Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon, I don’t recommend renting a car. You can easily find a shuttle, taxi, or an Uber from McCarran Airport to your hotel.
Once on the Las Vegas Strip, you will have several more options at your disposal. The Strip is designed with pedestrians in mind, and walking up and down it is not a problem.
Another option: free shuttles. A bunch of the individual casinos are owned by the same company, and they’re more than happy to shuttle you back and forth between their properties.
A third mode of transport: the Las Vegas Monorail, which has a stop near basically every major casino. It’s not free, but a day pass is $12 (which is probably cheaper than one taxi ride).
Many of the casinos now partner with other hotel chains. One of the major partnerships is MGM’s MLife and Hyatt. Their partnership means that you can use Hyatt Gold Passport points for a stay at the MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and more.
Not a fan of Hyatt? No worries! You still have plenty of alternatives. Including IHG, Marriott, or Airbnb, where there seem to be plenty of options (though you may need to spend a little more on transportation with some).
Another way to live large in Sin City is to book your stay through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, which includes benefits like an automatic room upgrade upon arrival (if available), a $25 food and/or beverage voucher, and VIP guest status. In order to get this treatment you need to book your stay by visiting this site or calling a Visa Concierge.
For me, I’m using miles from my Barclaycard Arrival Plus to make the hotel stay a lot cheaper.
What about eating?
Buffets are kind of a big thing in Vegas, and if you’re a fan, you may enjoy the Buffet of Buffets Pass, which gives you unlimited admission to participating buffets for 24 hours.
Other than that, there are plenty of cheap places to eat in and around all the casinos, so food shouldn’t be a major expense unless you want it to be.
Discounts on activities
Besides hitting up the penny slots or the Blackjack table you’ve got a nearly countless number of shows at your disposal (with many being done by a-list performers), a variety of different clubs, rides, and many other activities for all ages.
Some shows aren’t that expensive to begin with, but others can set you back quite a bit. That’s where sites like Smartvegas come in that list discounted tickets and other deals throughout the city.
If you’re in the mood to do some club hopping, I’d recommend using a service similar to Club Viva VIP Services where you can purchase tickets to go on a club crawl. I set up a club crawl through them for my brother's bachelor party and we went to three of the most exclusive clubs on the strip: Foundation Room, LAX, and Tabu (which has since closed).
The little secret about Vegas is that you don’t need to be a gambler to enjoy yourself. There is certainly plenty of that going on, but the city is also great for anyone else. Now, if you do plan on gambling I would highly recommend putting aside a certain amount of money (that you’re happy to part with) for gambling and don’t spend more than that. It's what I do, and it helps keep me from blowing everything on gambling.
So whether you’re planning a bachelor or bachelorette party there, or just planning a little getaway, it’s most certainly possible to head to Sin City on a budget. And on that note, I’m gonna go fish that cash out of the trash.
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