I walked from Paris to an Egyptian pyramid within 30 minutes. Then, in the time it took me to finish my can of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, I was back in New York about to board the roller coaster that would take me high enough to see Hollywood; Planet Hollywood, that is.
See that’s the magic of the strip; with one skip and a jump you can transport through different cultures all while freely enjoying a giant frozen margarita as you walk through the public streets.
Vegas is infamous for stealing many things from the visitors who take the plunge into Sin-City; including their dignity, plus the little amount of cash us “low rollers” come in with. The Las Vegas Strip is exploding with five-star restaurants, celebrity worthy hotel suites, A-list nightclubs and an array of award-winning staged productions that rarely fall short of a spectacle. It’s a bit overwhelming for someone with a rather short stack of cash.
Let’s be real, not everyone can throw a $100 bill down on red without breaking a single sweat droplet. So, if you’re looking for a Hangover-worthy weekend without breaking the bank, you’ve come to the right guide.
Traveling Tips to Save Cash on Trips
Figuring out how to get to Vegas without going broke is the hardest part for people on a budget, but if you’re a smart shopper it’s more in reach than you may think.
Don’t buy the very first plane ticket you see. If you take the time to shop around, you will end up with extra money to go toward fun. Travel websites like Orbitz, Kayak, Cheapair and Travelocity can usually get you a good deal, but make sure to check with the actual airlines because sometimes it’s cheaper to book straight through them.
Be patient and watch the curves when you’re shopping for flights. Airfare prices go up and down depending on the time of year and how soon your trip is. A recent study done by Cheap Air showed that the best time to buy was about seven weeks before your trip. But before you decide on a date, be mindful of holidays and the summer season; during these times you can end up paying double the amount for the same flight.
According to Fare Compare, the cheapest time to fly is Wednesday for domestic travel. If you’re planning on making a weekend trip, avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays since those are the most expensive days to travel. Instead plan for a trip where you leave on Wednesday and come back Saturday. Tuesday and Saturday are the second cheapest days to fly.
Looking for a taxi?
If you’re planning on hotel-hopping there’s no shortage on taxis, but there’s ways to avoid the charges. Las Vegas Club Promoter and local resident, Megan Hallar saves money by riding the bus, or splitting cab rides.
“Unless I’m with a group of people and splitting a cab is an option, I always use the bus when I’m hopping around,” said Hallar. “If you’re going to use it more than once, it’s worth it to spend the $12 for the all-day unlimited riding. Most likely you’ll spend that on one cab ride, so you might as well get a whole days worth of rides for the same price.”
Don’t Get in too Deep, Drink for Cheap
There are plenty of ways to avoid going broke trying to get a buzz in Vegas. Yes, there’s always the classic “let the old creepy dude buy you a drink and then run away act,” in which case, girls pretty much drink for free wherever they go. But if you’re not banking on that strategy, or you’re a dude, stick with these strategies:
- Sit your cheap-butt down at a blackjack table or a penny slot machine (if you’re that desperate), and wave over that feathered out cocktail server for a complimentary Cosmo. Every casino in Vegas serves free drinks as long as you’re gambling. Just don’t forget to slip the server a tip if you want to ensure that they come back your way when your glass is empty. Chances are you’ll even make money off those free drinks if you play your cards right.
- Carry a flask. Every smart Vegas-goer has a glittered out pink flask by there side at all times. Ok, maybe not the glitter part, but it certainly comes in handy when you’re starting to come out of your buzz and the cheapest drink at the bar is $15.
- Hit up the liquor store for a $15 bottle of rum instead of paying that per drink. Plus, according to Nevada’s Open Container Law (NRS 484.448), it’s 100 percent legal to carry and consume open containers of alcohol in Las Vegas. So, take advantage of the opportunity.
- Two words: happy hour. If you are planning on getting your drinks from a bar, make sure you go at the right time. “Most bars, if not all bars in Vegas have special prices during both happy hour, and reverse happy hour which is like later at night after the dinner rush,” said Hallar, “You’ll literally spend half the price just by going at the right time.”
Party like a Rock Star, Even at the Value Bars
“Most people come to Vegas and stay on the strip the entire time,” said Hallar, “But Downtown Vegas on Fremont Street is definitely somewhere people should check out if they’re on a budget and looking for a good time.”
According to Classic Las Vegas: A Brief History (2007), Fremont street was the first paved street in Las Vegas, and is home to the very first casino hotel: Golden Gate. Its history is rich but its nightlife is quite cheap and perfect for any Vegas-goer on a budget.
From the slots to the bars, there’s no shortage of fun for your shortage of cash on Fremont Street. One of the best parts of Downtown is the Fremont Street Experience, which is home to the world’s largest screen. It features over two million light bulbs making up a giant over-head video experience. Plus, there’s a zip line that runs the entire street.
“Everything is cheaper in Downtown compared to the strip,” said Hallar. “Music and videos play on the Viva Vision giant screen. It’s like a constant party along the entire street.”
Save on Vegas Shows, Plus Free Street side Must-Go’s
Las Vegas is infamous for its unlimited amount of live performances and entertainment. Almost anywhere you go there are flashing lights and some kind of show happening. Las Vegas show reviewer, Mike Weatherford thinks that everybody should experience one of the shows on the strip at least once in their life.
“For those willing to spend a little cash on one of the spectacle shows, they are well worth the price,” said Weatherford. “If you’re going to see only one Vegas show in your life, I recommend making it to one of the Cirque Du Soleil shows. They have one for every interest: Zumanity for the more sensual side, Mystere for an adventure into your imagination and O for an exquisite aquatic experience.”
According to Vegas Know, the best way to save on show tickets is to wait until the morning of the show to purchase your tickets and buy them at one of the Tix4Tonight booths along the strip. It’s worth the savings to wait and Tix4Tonight is the best bargain since they sell leftover tickets to the hottest shows.
For listings of top name shows visit: www.vegas.com/shows/
“For people who can’t afford to go to the big shows like: Cirque Du Soleil, The Lion King, Britney Spears or whatever, there’s a bunch of free street side shows along the strip that are also worth checking out,” said Vegas show reviewer, Mike Weatherford.
Here are only a couple of the free attractions happening on the strip:
Fountains of Bellagio: This is absolutely a must go in Vegas. The shows are every 30 minutes before 7 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 7 p.m. to midnight. This breathtaking water fountain features rushing streams of water soaring up to 460 feet and synchronizes to music in a lake the size of eight football fields.
- Volcano at the Mirage: Every hour on the hour from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. a volcano erupts shooting fire high into the sky in front of the Mirage hotel on the strip.
- Lake of Dreams at Wynn: Beginning at dusk, a stunning water and light show happens in the three-acre lake surrounded by a lush forest at the Wynn. The show is every 30 minutes until 12:30 a.m. daily.
For more free attractions visit www.vegas.com/attractions/free-attractions-las-vegas/
Remember the Golden Rule, But Don’t be a Fool
We’ve all heard it before: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
This statement was probably true, until the invention of Facebook and Instagram. Although Las Vegas is the best place to be when you’re looking to cut loose with no consequences, just be sure to check out of social media for a few days if you really want your actions to stay there. You can always post pictures after you’ve returned home and got the chance to delete any unwanted scandalous images from the camera; but you can’t undo an impulse post you made after more than a few cocktails.
Vegas is a must go and should be on everybody’s bucket list. No matter how much cash you have stacked, if you play your budget right, a trip to Sin-City is more in reach than you may think.