I arrived in Las Vegas (known as Vegas from here on out) around 10:00AM and since I was with a wedding party, everyone but myself checked their bags, so after a trip to the baggage claim we were ready to go. I of course had my backpack and spent my time tracking down something to drink. The first thing I noticed after walking out the front doors of the airport was the heat. Being from Central Oregon I was used to 65-70 degree weather and not 100 degree weather. Since everyone was there for a wedding and there were lots of us, we flagged down a limo and headed for the hotel.
It turns out that if you are with a party of 5 or more, a limo may be the quickest and one of the cheaper rides to your hotel. Limos can range from $65 to $100 depending on quality and size. With 4 people or less a taxi is where it’s at since a taxi is around $20. If you are by yourself, take the shuttle which can be around $7-$10. There is also the bus option but that takes much longer from the airport and is worth the extra few bucks to look into the other options. See tip #3 for more bus info.
This being my first real time in Vegas I was in awe of the elaborate buildings on the strip. Night time would be even more impressive. After arriving at our hotel (which happen to be the Luxor) everyone stood in line to check into our rooms. Before I left for Vegas I did a ton of reading and I ran across my next tip.
This really works! I was booked in a regular basic room with a bed and bathroom. After slipping the person behind the desk twenty bones I was upgraded to a Tower Suite with a king sized bed, a small kitchen, a master bedroom with it’s own, shower, tub, and separate bathroom. There was a guest bathroom in the living room. The suite was on the 28th floor which made for an awesome view! A few others in my party tried this and had no luck but I think a big smile and a little kindness will get you pretty far.
After dropping our stuff off in our rooms we went and saw the sites and took in everything that Vegas had to offer. We walked most places and I was really surprised meet so many people from all parts of the world. If you can stand the heat then walking up and down the strip is really where it’s at. If you can’t stand the heat then you need to take a look at the following tip.
Tram, Bus, or Monorail?
If you are staying at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, The Luxor, or Excaibur then you will need to take the free tram and walk a little bit in order to get to the monorail. The monorail is really where it’s at if you are only going to stay on the strip. It goes from the MGM Grand all the way up to the Sahara. From the Sahara it’s a short walk to the Stratosphere. If you plan to go anywhere other than the strip like to Fremont Street then the bus is the way to go. For about $7 a day you can ride the bus from the airport to the strip, up and down the strip and up to Fremont Street. Not to mention, anywhere else in the city. The one draw back to the bus is that it takes a considerable amount of time over the other options like a cab.
After we were finished exploring the strip we decided to head back and start embracing sin city. One of the first things you’ll notice is that everything is much more expensive. A mixed drink is at least $10 if not more. Dinners are around $13-$15 on the cheap but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Drinking and eating doesn’t have to break the bank! Do you gamble? I’m going to assume you do since you took a trip to Vegas. They key to drinking is to gamble. Well, at least pretend to gamble. If you are sitting at a table or playing the slot machines a waitress will come around and offer you complementary drinks. At first you might be temped to order a jack and coke or something of the sort. DON’T DO IT! You’ll have much better luck ordering a glass of coke and a shot of jack. If you order it together you’ll get 99% coke and 1% jack. Some of you may be saying “but Adam, I’m not good at gambling I don’t want to waste money trying to get a drink” well that’s why you sit at a 1 cent slot machine. Put in your buck and bet 1 to 5 lines at at time. That $1 will last you forever. Once you get your drink and give the waitress a $1 tip move on. Or sit back and chat with your friends.
Eating doesn’t need to put a frowny face on you wallet either. If you plan to be in your hotel most of the time there is usually a buffet that the hotel will offer to you at a reduced daily price. I think at the Luxor it was something like $29 gets you 3 all you can eat buffet meals. There are a few other places that offer buffets with amazing food. All you can eat crab and lobster or steaks, and they are usually pretty cheap. The lines get long in a hurry and it’s best if you get there with plenty of time to spare if you want to get in.
If going to a club is your thing then it’s pretty much a given that you’ll need a nice shirt and a decent pair of pants. Shorts or flip flops are not allowed. Also be expected to pay a cover charge. The group I was with managed to get everyone into club LAX at the Luxor but clubs really aren’t my thing and I was in there for only a few minutes before claustrophobia set in and I had to get out.
I did however manage to learn to play Craps which quickly became my game of choice. It used to be poker and roulette but those have been replaced. I’m not much of a gambler. Normally I have better things to spend my money on but when I do gamble I usually have a system with two rules to minimize my losses.
Only take a specific amount of cash with you and no cards to the casino floor so you aren’t even tempted to withdraw more money.
If you are playing a game like craps or roulette and you win some money, take the amount you put down to start with and put it in your pocket. Then simply play with your winnings. That way if you happen to lose it all you still have your initial bet in your pocket.
I played by these rules all weekend and on my last day I kicked some serious ass on the craps table and was able to win enough cash to break even on all my expenses so all I really had to pay for was my flight and hotel.
My last tip is all about coupons. Coupons for dinner, hotels, shows, rides, etc. Before you go spend sometime on Google looking for coupons on the stuff you want to do. Vegas runs on coupons! Take advantage of it. Sometimes there are package deals that allow you to save massive amounts of money. However once you are there, there will be people trying to get you to take tours, listen to their sales pitch, and get you to take flyers for their night clubs. Don’t listen to them and just ignore them all together. You won’t be hurting their feelings. Ohh and the people selling $1 waters on the foot bridges is deal. Unless you can make your way to a McDonalds or Pizza Hut and get a free water cup. Normally bottled water is around $2-$4!
All in all Las Vegas was an incredible place and I’d like to visit again! However, 3 days was about all I could handle. I wasn’t able to get up to Fremont Street and I wasn’t able to go on the roller coaster at New York New York. Going to Vegas for me was more than just a vacation but more of a mile stone. I am now able to mark the first thing off my Bucket List and it feels amazing. I think I’ve finally started on the path I was meant to be on a long time ago.
Be sure to check out a few of the shots from Vegas in my gallery! Las Vegas Gallery
If you have any more tips or suggestions feel free to leave them down below in the comments!