When you hear someone say they are planning a Las Vegas getaway, chances are you think to yourself “Wow that has got to be an expensive trip.” In some ways a Las Vegas vacation can be an expensive adventure, however, it does not have to be. Just because you have a limited travel budget does not mean that you have to miss out on all of the fun and excitement Las Vegas has to offer.
Here are some tips to fit in a Las Vegas vacation on a budget.
Book your flight mid-week when prices are cheaper or book a package deal that includes your hotel accommodations for one low price. Check various online travel booking sites for specials and deals. It is also a good idea to check with the airline to see if they are offering any online booking specials to Las Vegas.
If you know you will be traveling to Vegas within the next year, get a credit card that offers miles for flights. Use it for everything. The best way to do this is to make your purchase with the credit card and then go home and pay it off. That way it will work just like you were paying cash for things you need and you get to collect miles to use toward your Las Vegas flight.
Of course the further away from the center of the Vegas Strip you stay, the less expensive your accommodations will be. If you have your heart set on staying on the Strip, plan to book your rooms at the resorts on either far end of it. Excalibur is near an end by New York-New York and is one of the more affordable hotels on the Strip and will keep you close to all of the action.
Some of the more affordable hotels in Las Vegas are:
To find a Las Vegas resort that fits within your budget, you need to start out by making a list of all area hotels and their prices. Check out various websites such as Travelocity, Booking Buddy and Priceline for some of the best prices. Keep in mind that you will find the best deal when you book a package that includes both your airfare and hotel accommodations. Check with the individual hotels for any online booking specials.
Another thing to keep in mind when booking your Las Vegas accommodations is that staying on the Strip you will save money on transportation costs. You will be closer to all of the action, reducing the need to take the Monorail or pay for a taxi ride.
Nothing is more budget friendly on a vacation than something that is free to do, see and experience. Believe it or not, there are plenty of free things to do while in Las Vegas. Here are some of the best things in Vegas that are free:
- Bellagio Conservatory – Join the more than five million visitors who enjoy this free experience where you can see beautiful flowers, trees and plants, which are changed for the holidays and to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
- Bellagio Fountains – Be amazed by the water fountain show in front of the Bellagio. The fountains and lights are choreographed to music.
- Circus Acts: Circus Circus – Get excited as you watch the different circus acts that appear throughout the day.
- Freemont Street Experience – There are plenty of things to see and do along Freemont Street, most of which are free.
- Lion Habitat: MGM Grand – See these amazing creatures up close as you walk around their habitat.
- Welcome to Las Vegas Sign: Head down to the Strip just south of Russell Road where you will be able to get your photo taken in front of this iconic symbol.
- Wildlife Habitat: Flamingo Hotel and Casino – See a variety of birds and animals up close as you walk through winding walkways that will take you alongside streams, waterfalls, lagoons and ponds. Animals at the habitat include pink flamingos, exotic ducks, koi fish and so much more.
Finding free things in Las Vegas is a bonus, but not everything you see and do can be free. There are still plenty of activities you can do that will not break the bank. Here are some of the more inexpensive activities, attractions and things to do while in Las Vegas:
- Big Apple Coaster: New York-New York – Thrill seekers will be amazed as to how affordable a ride through the Big Apple can be. For only $14 per person, you will be sent off through twists, loops and turns at more than 65 MPH.
- Eiffel Tower Experience: Paris Las Vegas – This is a great way to see the Strip from high above Vegas and is only $14 for adults during the day and $19 for adults in the evening.
- Gondola Ride: Venetian – For only $18.95 per person, you will be treated to a peaceful gondola ride through the Grand Canal Shoppes.
- “Jubilee!” Backstage Tour: Bally’s Las Vegas – Public tours are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays starting at 4 p.m. Cost of the tour is only $19.50 per person or $14.50 per person with a show ticket.
- Pool clubs – Several different resorts are home to pool clubs where it is a party all day long. Pool clubs range from $10-$20 per person and can be found at The Mirage, Aria, The Palms and The Cosmopolitan.
- Stratosphere Tower – Get a 360-degree view of Las Vegas from this 1,149-foot tower for only $20 for adults.
- Shark Reef Aquarium: Mandalay Bay – See more than 1,200 species of marine life, including sea turtles, exotic fish and sharks, for only $18 for adults.
- Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden: The Mirage – For only $19.95 for adults, you can explore this amazing wildlife habitat featuring white tigers, leopards and lions.
Unless you win big at the poker table, chances are when visiting Las Vegas on a budget you will have to miss out on some of the more luxurious dining venues. But that does not mean you have to miss out on enjoying a fabulous meal and a great dining experience. Here are some of the more budget-friendly restaurants in Las Vegas:
- Carson Street Café: Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino Las Vegas – This spot offers amazing specials on soup and sandwich combos.
- Garden Court Buffet: Main Street Station – This restaurant offers affordable dining options such as its Breakfast Buffet for only $6.99, Lunch Buffet for $7.99 and weekday dinner buffets for $10.
- Mr. Lucky’s: Hard Rock Hotel – If you have a Hard Rock Player’s Club card, you will be able to enjoy Mr. Lucky’s $7.77 special, aka The Gambler’s Special. This meal includes a steak, grilled shrimp, choice of potato and a salad.
- Shrimp Cocktail at Du-Par’s: Golden Gate – This shrimp cocktail has been dining tradition since the ’50s and is a must-try experience. For only $3.99, you will receive a large serving of fresh shrimp, served in a tulip glass and with a secret cocktail sauce and fresh lemon.
- Sidewalk Café: Bally’s Hotel and Casino – Sidewalk Cafe offers specials all day long, especially for a 4 a.m. breakfast.
Buffets offer some of the most affordable dining options in Las Vegas. Buffets start as low as $5.99 per person and offer everything you would expect in a traditional buffet. Some buffets, such as the one at Excalibur, offer all-day dining passes, making it possible to eat as many times as you want all day long.
The busy times for restaurants in Las Vegas are between 8 and 10 p.m. That is why you can find the best dining deals in Las Vegas between 4 and 7 p.m. Many 5-star restaurants want to look full all day long and offer specials for those dining during these early hours. Depending upon the restaurant, you could get a meal that would normally cost close to $100 for anywhere between $40 to $60. All restaurants are different, so call ahead to ask if there are any early dining specials.
Ask restaurants and bars about “reverse happy hour.” This is when many restaurants offer happy hour prices later in the evening with most starting between 10 and 11 p.m. During these times, participating restaurants offer food and drink options for as low as $3.
Another great way to stay on a budget while visiting Las Vegas is to get a mini-refrigerator delivered to your hotel room. Some hotels offer this option free of charge, while others charge a small fee. Either way, it is an affordable way to store leftovers from dining out or to stock up with bottled water, bread, lunch meat and other snacks.
The best way to stick to your budget is to avoid the casinos and enjoy everything else Las Vegas has to offer. However, spending time in a casino can be an exciting experience and something you should at least try once. Set yourself a daily gambling budget and stick to it. It can be $5 per day or $50 per day. The amount is determined by your vacation budget.
To help stick to the budget, put each day’s gambling allowance in an envelope and keep in your room’s safe. Only take out the money for the day. If you win, you can put that back in the envelope and save it or use it to continue your casino experience.
If you are on a tight budget, stick to the slot machines for a more affordable gambling experience. Or you can stick to the low-limit games, such as $3 craps tables and $5 blackjack tables. Table limits do get lower the further away from the Strip you get.
Related: Budget Travel Tips For Atlantic City
There really is no need to rent a car while in Las Vegas. Instead take the free shuttle from the airport to your hotel. Many resorts in Las Vegas offer free or inexpensive shuttle service to and from area attractions. Check with your hotel’s concierge desk to discover these alternative transportation methods.
Paying for a cab can be a bit expensive too. So if at all possible, make plans to walk everywhere (wear comfortable shoes) or for a small fee you can have access to the Monorail all day long.
Many Las Vegas hotels, restaurants and attractions offer special discount coupons. However, you have to know where to find them. Check online for coupons that will give you special discounts on just about everything you plan to do in Vegas. Some of the best coupons available online can be found on the websites for the Las Vegas Leisure Guide and Travel Vegas.
Do not allow yourself to get discouraged when trying to plan a Las Vegas vacation, especially if you are on a tight budget. It may take a lot of time researching in order to find things to do and places to stay that all fit within your budget. So before making plans to Vegas, sit down and determine exactly how much you can afford to spend. Be realistic, make your plan and stick to it.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.