So you’re not rich, but you’ve managed to sock away a bit of doe and are ready for a Vegas Vacation to remember. We’ll try and help you with the ins-and-outs of how your average tourist can happily spend their hard earned dollar in Vegas and really feel like they got their money’s worth.
Despite the reputation, most Hotel/Casinos were made for the average working man/woman. Just expect that you are going to spend money in Vegas, and Strip Casinos are going to cost you $150-$300 per night depending on the time of year. If you want to save some of your cash for entertainment, and add a bit to your gambling budget, take a look at some of the off-Strip hotels. There are dozens which cater to locals, are just as nice accommodation-wise as those on the Strip, and for much less. Station Casinos is a great brand, all of them offering Spas, Shows, and tons of Casino space just like the Strip.
Downtown is great, and several of the hotels by Fremont Street have recently seen an upgrade – the Golden Nugget actually quite posh yet cheaper than the Strip.
There is tons of free entertainment, and just because it is free doesn’t mean it sucks. Check out the Low Budget section to see a quick list of must-sees.
One of the many things Vegas is known for is all of the great shows. Prices for these range from around $20 for some of the comedy and entertainment off of the Strip, and the Cirque du Soleil shows and other featured shows on the Strip usually run from around $60 on a slow night to over $100 dollars – they are worth it though. And it is a good idea to keep at least one famous Vegas show as part of your budget.
Guess what, if you are here in the summer it is going to be hot. That means around noon you will be thinking about cool water and lounging by a beautiful pool. Most hotels have one, and Strip Hotels and Downtown Hotels have some of the most beautiful pools you’ve ever seen. Getting in is free with your room key unless it is an adult pool like Bare at the Mirage or Tao Beach at the Venetian it there may be an entrance fee, usually about $20 – drinks here are going to be more expensive as well. (Hint: If you bring the hot stripper from last night, or your wife just had a boob job, take them and you might get in for free. Vegas loves pretty girls – dudes not so much, even if you are pretty).
If golf is your thing, there are about a dozen courses throughout Las Vegas. Check your wife into your Hotel’s Spa for the day (just about every hotel has one) and hit the courses. You’ll both be refreshed and ready for a night of debauchery.
Not surprisingly Vegas keeps very close track of how tourists spend their gambling dollar, and it turns out that on average you all spend about $559 dollars each gambling on a Vegas trip – don’t worry though, that takes into account the High Rollers on private tables spending millions a hand. A casual gambler can have a lot of fun if they only bring $200-$300 designated for gambling – and hey, if you win you can spend even more.
The first trick to having a good time gambling on an average budget is to know your limits – gambling limits that is. A good lower limit for Blackjack is $5, and that will make you last for a long time because even the most unlucky will win the occasional hand. You can go as high as $10 if you feel a streak coming on, and for the sake of all that is holy, if you are new to gambling take the dealer’s advice – they want you to win really, that’s how they get tips.
The games of Roulette and Craps are fast and furious, keep your bets to a 10 dollar per roll/spin spread across the table and you’re sure to have an exciting time. Yes putting your wad on snake eyes is fun – for about the time it takes someone to roll the dice anyway, that’s not how you last in Vegas though.
Slot machines are everywhere, and they usually range from a dollar up. Don’t wander into the high limits area of your casino though or you may feel a turning in your stomach as you watch the extremely wealthy shove stacks of $500 bills into the greedy machines. Stick to the casino floor, and smile for the waitress so she brings you more drinks (and tip her – usually a dollar per trip).
Taxi is the primary mode of Transportation throughout Las Vegas. Try to make sure the driver sticks to the Strip to avoid undue charges if you’re going Downtown. Also, check your map before hoping in. If you’re staying at Mandalay Bay, Luxor is right next door. Most cabbies won’t bother warning you before the meter starts running. The tram is another great way to get around, though it only makes a handful of stops on the strip, most of what you will want to see is within walking distance of one of the stops. Limos cost around $60, so if you have a large group it might be worth it, otherwise we’re used to Limos in Vegas and it’s not that impressive so save your cash.
It seems like nearly every city in the world has at least one direct flight a day to Las Vegas, however, you could save a few bucks with a connector coming out of LA or Phoenix. Look for airlines that have multiple daily flights to the area and you might find lower rates. Also, coming here during slower seasons and mid week is less expensive, and booking in advance is always cheaper.