Sunday, May 4, 2014

Las Vegas Travel Tips

I recently traveled to Las Vegas for the first time. I have been wanting to go for several years and finally bit the bullet.  You can read about our trip HERE.  Though I asked about "must-see's" before we left, I never asked about advice on how to time manage, have fun, and save money.  So, I'm going to do that for you now!!  Vacation can be stressful, so I'm going to share my "pro-tips" for conquering the strip in Las Vegas. 

-- DO NOT take a shuttle from the airport.  We purchased our shuttle with our flight through Allegiant Air.  It ended up costing more online (come to find out), and we waited an HOUR to get on to a crummy bus and our hotel was about fourth in line for dropoff.  AKA it took us forever to get from our plane to our hotel.  Take a TAXI.  The airport is extremely close to the strip and a cab ride shouldn't cost more than $20 (depending, of course, on where your hotel is). 

-- Decide on one show to be your "must-see" and purchase tickets before you leave on your trip.  For us, it was Beatles Love Cirque de Soleil.  Then, if you have more evenings open for entertainment on your trip, visit the TIX4TONIGHT kiosks located along the strip.  These post event tickets for the day of at a discount of 50% or more.  They also offer coupons for restaurants, attractions, etc. 

-- On that note...Don't overbook yourself.  Getting around in Vegas takes a lot longer than you expect.  Therefore, do not expect a 6:00 dinner reservation to be sufficient for a 7:00 show.  Try not to have too many activities on your list, as you might end up disappointed if you cannot see EVERYTHING.  Have one or two major gigs a day, and leave yourself plenty of time for transportation, meals, etc. 

-- Carry a bottle of water with you.  It is HOT in Vegas, and you don't want to have to be buying a $5 bottle of water every two hours.  We ended up just re-using a Dasani bottle, that way if we left it somewhere, it wasn't a loss.  You will get thirsty from the sun, dry air, secondhand smoke, and all of your walking around!

-- The city, in general, runs on a bit of a later schedule.  Things don't start to liven up until dark.  "The City of Lights", if you will.  We went to dinner right at 7:00 one day and expected it to be crazy.  We walked right in, and the place proceeded to get very full after 8:00. 

--  Make reservations or show up early.  Food wasn't one of our top attractions, but the scene in Las Vegas is huge.  If you want to eat at a famous chef's restaurant, show up early and expect a long wait.  You will see lines for eating establishments everywhere.  Many places do not take reservations, so if you really have a restaurant you MUST visit, you will likely have to invest in a few hours for your dream to come true. 

-- When walking the strip, don't make eye contact with promoters unless you want to be bothered!  Some people are quite aggressive, and some will let you walk on by.  IF you are hoping to get in to a club for free (say, for a bachelorette party), it will probably be worth your time to engage in a conversation and get your group on the guest list.  If not, you will be paying a large cover charge ($20-$35 per person) to get in to a club on the strip.  You will also wait in a long line (longer on weekends) and be subject to a picky dress code.  {This was definitely not our thing, but surely something to share.}

-- There are people on the street "flicking" cards (making a flicking sound).  They are business cards for escorts, just FYI!

-- Choose one or two days two purchase the all-day bus pass.  It is $8 and works for any bus in the city.  There are two main buses you will use on the strip.  The DEUCE, which stops very frequently and is two stories.  Then there is the Strip & Downtown Express bus (SDX) which stops at fewer resorts along the line and thus, is faster for traveling longer distances.  With these, you can get to "downtown" and the Freemont Street Experience as well. 

***NOTE***  You cannot EAT OR DRINK on the buses!!  So don't crack open a beer and expect to get a free ride.  They do not allow it and are not very nice about it.  This includes coffee, snacks, anything.
-- Speaking of drinks, don't buy them at a bar.  For the love of your wallet, sacrifice a bit of your taste and make a few stops at at CVS, convenience store, or shop.  Bring some mini alcohol bottles to add to a bottle of soda or juice.  I even succumbed to my very first Bud Light Lime on this trip because it was huge and only $4.  Drinks are EXPENSIVE, especially at the hotel bars where there will likely be no prices listed.  Drinking is part of the experience, but don't blow your budget on booze! 
-- Hit up a happy hour if you can.  We had great timing and had happy hour on Floor 107 of the Stratosphere.  Drinks were 2-for-1 and appetizers were half off.  The food was fancy and the drinks were hand shaken.  Not to mention the view was fantastic and the bartenders were excellent.  It was definitely worth the few hours and forty dollars of indulgence. 
--Bring a few snacks to keep in your room.  Some trail mix, crackers, and treats will be great for a midnight snack or an extra pick-me-up in the morning.  Note that some hotels will not have refridgerators, so a frozen pizza might not be the best choice.

In general, have a good time, but don't blow money on food and drinks instead of experiences!!

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