Last updated November 2019.
So you’re planning your first trip to Las Vegas. Great choice! You’ve seen its bright lights glamorized in the movies. Now you’re excited to experience the Las Vegas Strip for yourself.
I LOVE visiting Las Vegas and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m always discovering new things each time I go. If you want to make the most of your vacation, 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!
- 20 Free Things to do in Las Vegas for All Ages
- 30 ways to save money in Las Vegas
- 7 Things to do in Las Vegas Beside Drinking & Gambling
1. Places are not as close as they appear
Even though buildings on the Las Vegas Strip appear close together, the blocks are LONG. You’ll be surprised at how much walking is required if you’re traveling on foot. For example, just walking from my hotel room in Bally’s to the parking garage took several minutes.
Don’t expect to get anywhere fast in Las Vegas. This 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.
I recommend taking an Uber if you need to get somewhere quickly. There are also a number of pedestrian-friendly footbridges at the main intersections for your convenience.
Here are some tips to make your walking experience on the Vegas 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 or take Uber.
If you’re paying for parking at your hotel, you might be able to get free parking at other hotels. This worked for us when we stayed at the MGM Grand. We could get free parking at other MGM properties.
- Ride the Las Vegas Monorail. There are seven convenient stops along the Strip.
2. 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’ll be disappointed if you do. I’d ask you to trust me on this one, but hey, I’d rather you decide for yourself.
The middle of the Vegas Strip is the best location to book your hotel. This will make it easy to get around to wherever you want to go. You’ll also want to select your hotel choice based on its facilities (such as its restaurants, pool, and entertainment). This can help you save money and time.
I always find the best rates when booking my hotel through Vegas.com. I love this website because it’s a one-stop shop to get the best deals on Las Vegas hotels, show tickets, tours, clubs, attractions, and more. They can also accommodate group bookings, which is great when traveling with friends.
Traveling with kids? Check out this post sharing the 10 best kid-friendly hotels in Las Vegas.
3. Paying full price for show tickets
There’s NO reason to pay full price for Las Vegas show tickets. You’ll always be able to find a discount.
To get the best deal, I recommend starting your search for show tickets on Vegas.com. Yes, this is the same website I use to find deals on hotel accommodations.
They offer discounts on all the popular Las Vegas shows, including Cirque du Soleil tickets. Plus, you can book dinner + show packages which is super convenient.
LIMITED TIME OFFER: Right now, you can book some of the top Vegas shows for $50 or less. This is a great deal! See the full list of shows here.
4. Not using the Las Vegas Explorer Pass
Visiting Las Vegas for the first time can be hectic. With so many great things to see and do, it can be challenging to plan an itinerary and determine which attractions to spend your money on.
The good new is you don’t need to plan your Vegas trip alone. After doing a lot of research for my own vacation, I discovered the Vegas Explorer Pass. This pass can be a great tool for planning your holiday.
I used the Vegas Explorer Pass, which helped me easily plan my itinerary and visit all the top attractions in the city. With the Vegas Explorer Pass, I saved time, money, and enjoyed stress-free sightseeing.
PRO TIP: Buy the pass online to save time and hassle. To buy the Las Vegas Explorer pass, click here to go to the official website. The pass is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
What’s included in the Las Vegas Explorer Pass:
The Las Vegas Explorer Pass is a multi-attraction pass where you can choose to visit 3, 4, 5, or 7 top attractions all for ONE low price, including Hoover Dam, Stratosphere Tower, and the High Roller Observation Wheel.
You also have the option to include a free Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour to enjoy at your leisure. For those not renting a car, this is a smart way to get around Las Vegas.
Check out my honest review of the Las Vegas Explorer pass here.
How to get your Las Vegas Explorer Pass:
Step 1: Choose the pass which best suits your trip. You can visit 3, 4, 5 or 7 different attractions for one low price. Save up to 60% off vs. paying at the gate. You can click here to purchase your Vegas Pass from the official website.
Step 2: Download your pass instantly on any mobile device. Or you can print your pass at home.
Step 3: Simply show your pass at the attraction entrance and walk right in. Your pass is valid for 30 days after the first attraction you visit.
PRO TIP: Choose the 3 or 4-attraction pass if visiting for a couple of days. If staying 3 to 5 days, consider purchasing the 5 or 7-attraction pass.
5. Thinking that everything in Las Vegas is expensive
At first glance, first-timers think everything in Las Vegas is expensive. But if you do a little research, you’ll notice there’s plenty of easy ways to save money — on just about everything!
Here are some of my favorite ways to save money in Vegas…
Save Money on Hotels
- You can save up to 50% off your hotel when booking through Vegas.com
- Save up to 10% off any Caesar Entertainment hotel with a verified military ID.
Save Money on Tours & Attractions
- You can find deals on Las Vegas tours, day trips, and show tickets on Vegas.com.
- The Thrifty 50! Right now you can see a top Vegas show for $50 or less. Check out a full list here.
- Buy the Las Vegas Explorer Pass to save money and time at popular Vegas attractions.
- Check out this post of 20 FREE things to do in Las Vegas for all ages.
Save Money on Dining
- Take advantage of the Buffet Pass to visit up to five buffets in Vegas for one price.
- Take advantage of Las Vegas happy hours for food and drink deals. This is my favorite way to save money when eating out in Vegas.
Another good way to save money is to determine what type of trip you want to have. For example, are you planning on shopping? Seeing shows? Eating at fancy restaurants? Going on tours?
This will help keep your spending in check. Otherwise it will be difficult to stay on budget if you’re shopping every day, eating at fancy restaurants every night, and seeing shows. You can use my free vacation budget template to help you plan your trip.
6. Not signing up for player’s clubs
Whether or not you’re 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, and so on. This is a great way to save money in Las Vegas.
7. Not renting a car
Not everyone is going to agree with me, but if you’re planning on staying in Las Vegas for more than 2 nights, I recommend renting a car.
Why? 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.
Alamo is my go-to place for booking rentals cars. I find their prices are competitive and I’ve always had a good experience with them.
If you are not renting a car, I recommend getting around Las Vegas by riding the Monorail or taking a Hop On Hop Off bus tour.
8. Eating bad food
Las Vegas has so many delicious restaurant options at a variety of different price points. There is no excuse for eating bad food in Vegas.
Whether you’re looking for a fancy night out or a quick bite, you’re never far from a tasty meal. One of my favorite budget options on the Vegas Strip is Earl of Sandwich or Shake Shack.
9. Buying a drink at the casino bar
I made this mistake on my first night in Vegas. I was looking for a quick place to have a drink and ordered one from the casino bar. Big mistake — a simple vodka + sprite was $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 favorite 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 Vegas Strip which offer various specials. 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.
PRO TIP: If you plan on eating at a buffet, check to see if alcohol is included. You may also want to consider getting the Buffet Pass. This means you’ll pay one price and get access to up to five buffets in Las Vegas for a 24-hour period. You can learn more about it here.
10. Not visiting Las Vegas with an open mind
To make the most of your first trip to Las Vegas, you’ll want to visit with an open mind. You never know what you’ll 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.
11. 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.
For Las Vegas Explorer Pass holders, you can visit the Hoover Dam. This tour is included for FREE with your Explorer Pass. If you’re looking for more suggestions, here are some of my other favorite spots to check out:
- 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
Another great ways to find deals on Las Vegas day trips is on Vegas.com. They offer discounts on Grand Canyon tours, Hoover Dam tours, Red Rock Canyon tours, white water rafting tours, and more!
My must-have Las Vegas accessories:
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