It is not impossible to enjoy Las Vegas on a budget! With a little research and planning, a visitor can anticipate and control trip expenses. Airline, auto club, travel review and discounter websites provide promotional information; it’s essentially a matter of deciding what is most important to the visitor.
A significant part of the trip may be airline cost. It is important to check flight costs often (as they frequently change) and to make reservations well in advance. Lower-prices may be found for early morning, evening, or connecting flights. But, if a favorite Vegas show has available seats for the 7 PM show that are $50 less than the 10 PM one, spending a little more on airfare to arrive earlier will be worth it. If you would like to experience Las Vegas on a budget, have the big picture in mind of how you want to enjoy Las Vegas, in order to plan an itinerary that maximizes your spent dollar.
Regarding ground transportation from the airport, a cab costs at least $25 to cruise the famous, resort covered Strip, or casino-filled Downtown Las Vegas. It is less costly to rent cars away from the airport, but they are not really needed if Las Vegas is your final destination. Visitors can walk everywhere easily and safely. Guests may buy $5 unlimited passes from bus operators in the Deuce program, which will transport them all day. (There is also a pricier, off-strip monorail that connects some resorts, but trains connecting Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur resorts are free.)
Visitors have many options concerning accommodations. Older rooms in Downtown Vegas may be less than $50 per night, but hotels a block or two from the Strip may offer newer facilities and pools at comparable or just slightly higher prices. Good buys can also be found at the magnificent Strip resorts through auto club, senior, and military discounts, or mid-week specials Another option is to stay at an inexpensive lodging for part of the trip, then move to fancier accommodations. If one does not mind logistics involved with packing, it may be worth cab fare and a few extra dollars to enjoy upgraded amenities for a night or two.
Food can be pricey on the Strip, but for quick bites, the Excalibur and Circus-Circus house fast food chains, while pizza shops and delis are found behind many casinos. Food courts in the Venetian, New York New York and Miracle Mile offer moderate prices and decent-sized portions. Downtown restaurants offer excellent bargains to travelers in that area, but cab fare from the Strip is over $20. For enjoyment and value, consider a mid-level resort brunch buffets for about $15 per person. They offer enough selection to fuel the visitor through a busy day, eliminating the need to eat again until evening. It’s best to avoid high-priced, resort counter service, but many casual, sit-down restaurants have a variety of choices large enough to be shared.
Most Las Vegas first-run entertainment is sold out well in advance, but there may be single seats available. If the party is willing to be seated separately, this may result in excellent seats at a good price. However, ticket outlets (Near Planet Hollywood and The Wynn) sell half-price and discount tickets for that day’s productions, including less expensive afternoon shows. (Beware that online or “discount” agents can charge more than the face value of the ticket.)
Las Vegas also offers free entertainment. Treasure Island’s “Sirens” production holds multiple shows daily and the fountains at Bellagio display dancing waters and lovely music every 15-30 minutes. Bellagio’s Conservatory, MGM’s Lion Habitat, the Tiger Exhibit and the Erupting Volcano at the Mirage are also free. Free performances at Caesar’s, Circus Circus and Excalibur are especially entertaining for children, and allow guests to relax in air-conditioned comfort for an hour or so.
Other attractions carry a price tag that may not be the best use of some travelers’ resources. The Venetian Gondola rides, Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, and the amusement park rides atop the Stratosphere can take a big bite out of a wallet-even with coupons. It’s just as much fun to walk through the Caesar’s Forum Shops, snap pictures inside the Luxor pyramid, relax near the Wynn Waterfall, or simply browse the European markets of Paris and the Venetian.
Casinos will track individual gaming and reward it with “comps” on future hotel stays and meals. Ask casino representatives before gaming to be given full credit. It is also a good idea to take only take a portion of one’s gambling budget on each trip to a casino, and quit when it has been depleted, regardless of winnings. The satisfaction of staying within a budget while going home with winnings can make the trip that much more pleasant and memorable!