So you’re planning your first trip to Las Vegas, great choice! You’ve seen its bright lights glamorized in the movies and now you’re excited to experience the Las Vegas Strip for yourself.
I just recently returned from my fourth trip to Vegas and I’m always discovering new things each time. In order to make the most of your holiday, I’ve rounded up the best tips for first-time visitors.
Follow this guide to help you know what to expect so you can save money and travel like a pro!
1. Places are not as close as they appear
Even though the buildings on the Las Vegas Strip are close together, the blocks are long and it requires a lot of walking if you want to get around.
Just getting from my hotel room in Bally’s to the parking garage took several minutes. Don’t expect to get anywhere fast in Las Vegas.
That means you can’t expect to enjoy dinner at the MGM Grand, then walk over to Treasure Island to see an evening show – it’s just not going to happen when you’re traveling on foot.
There are also a number of pedestrian-friendly footbridges at the main intersections, which makes it take a little longer to cross the street.
Here are some tips to make your walking experience on the Strip more enjoyable:
- Plan accordingly
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Walk through the air-conditioned hotels, if possible. It’s extremely hot during the summer months, but fortunately all the hotels are kept nice and cool inside.
- Drive to your destination. Almost all hotel and shopping center parking garages have free parking on the Las Vegas Strip.
- Ride the Las Vegas Monorail. There are seven stops along the Strip.
2. Not renting a car
Not everyone is going to agree with me on this suggestion, but if you’re planning on staying in Las Vegas for more than 2 nights, I recommend renting a car.
Why? Simply because there is so much to see and do in Las Vegas beyond the Strip, it would be a shame to spend all your time in one spot.
Plus, you can rent a car for as little as $10 per day!
Almost all of the hotels and shopping centers offer free parking in Las Vegas, and some of my favourite restaurants and outlet shops are located off the Strip.
Related: 12 ways to save money on car rentals
3. Booking the cheapest hotel (or staying off the Strip)
I know it’s tempting to book the cheapest hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, but you’re going to be disappointed if you do. (Trust me — been there done that – I won’t make that mistake again).
I recommend choosing a hotel located in the middle of the Strip, which makes it slightly easier to get around (in my opinion). You’ll also want to base your hotel choice on its facilities, such as its restaurants, pool and entertainment.
Sometimes you’ll receive coupons when you check in at your hotel to use at their restaurants, attractions, lounge, etc. (For example, when I stayed at Treasure Island, I received a Buy 1, Get 1 Free coupon for their buffet).
4. Overpaying for show tickets
There is no reason to pay full price for Las Vegas show tickets. You will almost always be able to find a discount.
I recommend starting your search at one of the Tix4Tonight booths. There are 10 convenient locations and their staff are super helpful if you have any questions.
Tix4Tonight also offers deals on dinner, so before you head out to eat, check to see if there are any discounts available.
5. Not signing up for player’s clubs
Whether or not you plan on gambling in Las Vegas, I always recommend signing up for a player’s card at every casino you visit.
It’s free to sign up and you’ll get free stuff just by joining! I’ve received a free $20 playing credit, discounts on shows, food, etc. It’s a great way to save money in Las Vegas.
6. Buying a drink at the casino bar
Yep, I made this mistake on my first night in Vegas. I was looking for a quick place to have a drink and decided to order one from the casino bar. Big mistake — the drink was almost $10!
I’ve heard that you can get free drinks while gambling (provided you tip your waitress well), however I’m not much of a gambler, so I haven’t tried this myself.
Instead, if you’re looking to have a drink, I recommend having a drink or two in your hotel room first (I usually pick up my favourite drinks when I arrive in Vegas).
Also, it’s legal to have an open container on the Strip (as long as it’s not a glass container), so you can carry your drinks around in a plastic cup or beer can.
To save money when drinking, I recommend looking for happy hours. There are plenty on the Strip (offering various specials at certain hours). It’s also a great way to save money on food if you don’t mind eating dinner a little early or late at night.
If you plan on eating at a buffet, check to see if alcohol is included. The M Resort buffet is a popular choice.
7. Eating bad food
Las Vegas has so many delicious restaurant options at a variety of different price points. There is really no excuse for eating a low-quality meal.
Whether you’re looking for a fancy night out or a quick bite for lunch, you are never far from a tasty meal. One of my favourite budget options on the Strip is Earl of Sandwich, and there are lots of other great choices off the Strip too.
8. Thinking that everything in Las Vegas is expensive
At first glance, one might think that everything in Las Vegas is expensive. But if you look past the surface, there are plenty of easy ways to save money on just about everything.
Here are some of my favourite ways to save money in Vegas:
- Book your hotel room at a discount (or ask for a free upgrade at check-in time)
- Use a promo code or coupon to get discounts on food, attractions, entertainment, etc.
- Take advantage of Tix4Tonight for discounts on shows and restaurants
- Take advantage of Las Vegas happy hours (for food and drinks)
Also, you’ll want to determine what type of trip you want to have. For example, are you planning on shopping? Seeing shows? Eating at fancy restaurants?
This means that you will have to make a compromise, most likely. Otherwise it will be difficult to stay on budget if you’re shopping every day, eating at fancy restaurants and seeing shows every night.
9. Not visiting Las Vegas with an open mind
In order to make the most of your first trip to Las Vegas, I recommend visiting with an open mind. You’ll never know what you might encounter while walking the Vegas Strip, so embrace all the people-watching and be open to anything.
Just don’t do anything that you’ll regret, like getting an impulse tattoo or losing your shirt at the casino.
10. Spending all of your time on the Strip
While the Vegas Strip has plenty to see and do, it would be a shame to spend your entire trip in one place. I highly recommend visiting Fremont Street (old Las Vegas) and taking a day trip somewhere.
Besides the popular day trips from Las Vegas like Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon, here are some of my favourites:
- Valley of Fire State Park (I wrote a whole post about Valley of Fire right here)
- Zion National Park (I hiked both Angel’s Landing and The Narrows at Zion)
- Death Valley
- Red Rock Canyon
Over to you — what tip(s) surprised you the most about Las Vegas?
My must-have Las Vegas accessories:
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