You can play big and lose big in Las Vegas, but you can save a healthy chunk of change too.
Traveling on a budget is one thing, but if you’re not severely confined by finances, you can enjoy a comfortable, fun vacation and still save a few bucks on those things you’d like to see or do. Las Vegas can be pricey if you let it, but some pre-planning and poking around in the right places will allow you to enjoy your trip and still go home with a bit of money in your pocket.
Before Your Trip
As you plan your Las Vegas vacation, keep in mind that the city is less expensive during certain times of the week and year. Search for cheap flights to Las Vegas early and often. The busiest times of the year in Las Vegas are on the weekends, over holidays and from Spring Break through Labor Day. Plan your trip for a mid-week stay or during one of the slower seasons in order to save money on your flight and hotel.
Hotels in Las Vegas need to fill their rooms in order to stay in business. A night with an empty room is lost money, but as rooms fill up, the prices go up. Saving money on your accommodations is similar to finding that inexpensive flight. Look for a room during the slower or shoulder seasons for the very best deals, and spend some time comparing similar hotels for the best price.
When you compare hotels, check to see if there might be package deals available. If you’re looking only for a hotel room, then just compare prices, but take a peek at what the hotel may be offering in addition to lodging. Sometimes you can book a package that bundles a hotel room, dining coupons, show tickets, spa services and other incentives, which can save lots of money on several amenities that would cost a lot more if you booked them all separately.
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Also, when you consider room prices across the city, keep in mind that it may be to your advantage to switch hotels during your stay. Utilize any points you’ve earned through players’ clubs to cut the price tag, and check for incentive rates for new members at several hotels. It may be a minor inconvenience to move mid-stay, but changing hotels could save a lot of money.
Before you leave for your Las Vegas trip, sign up for Groupon and LivingSocial specials for Las Vegas. You’ll likely find steep discounts on spa services, activities and dining. And, if you’re a foodie, take some time to poke around Restaurants.com, which allows people to pre-buy dining certificates for as little as $2.00 or $3.00. Read the fine print regarding usage details (such as restrictions on what days of the week you can use the certificates), but generally snagging a couple of these is a great way to test out a variety of restaurants in the city.
During Your Trip
One of your biggest expenses while you’re in Las Vegas is likely to be transportation, so consider your options before you arrive. Once you’re in Sin City, however, take advantage of those transportation options that make the most sense for your budget. For example, when you go from the airport to your hotel, you can go by taxi but you’ll save more money by picking up one of the shuttles. Throughout town, you may find that the public buses are your most affordable option, but if you just need a bump to certain parts of Las Vegas Boulevard, hop on a free tram. A rental car will be necessary for day trips, but you probably don’t need one for the duration of your trip. Instead, simply rent a car for only those days you’re planning on heading outside of the city.
When you arrive at your hotel, ask about any discounts or vacation packages that might be available. If you’d like an upgraded hotel room, it might not cost nearly as much as you think. Also, keep your eyes open for discount rags, many of which are packed with coupons for a variety of activities and services. Pick through the junk for anything that might be relevant to your vacation plans.
If you have a relationship with one of the hotel chains in Las Vegas, consider joining the player’s club, which often comes with free game play, discounts on dining establishments, activity vouchers and other coupons to use in and around Las Vegas.
One of the most popular activities in Las Vegas is catching a show. If you aren’t picky about what show you want to see, consider making a stop at Tix4Tonight, which offers discounted tickets on several shows in order to fill seats on the day of the performance. Tix4Tonight is in ten locations around the city.
Most importantly, keep in mind that what happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas. If you pile on the credit card debt, it will go home with you. The best way to save money in Las Vegas is to go in with a budget and be mindful of how much money you spend. Make smart decisions about where you want to spend your money, and be cognizant of where you can cut corners.
Think of it this way: If you save a buck while you’re in Las Vegas now, you’re one dollar closer to coming back for another vacation.
Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte