Las Vegas was once known as the place to go for a low-cost, cheap vacation, cheap food, cheap rooms, and cheap entertainment, but the idea of a cheap trip was lost the minute the mega resorts rolled into town. However, not all hope is lost as there are still some values to be found on the strip.
If you are looking for a cheap vacation and you are willing to do things a little differently, you might be able to cram in a low-cost trip to Las Vegas; first, you can find free things to do in Las Vegas, then find other options and ways to save money on your next excursion to Sin City.
Need a Travel Deal to Las Vegas? This is your resource for comparing prices and options when planning your trip to the desert city of Las Vegas.
Getting to Las Vegas Cheaply
If you consider the cost of gas versus the cost of an airline ticket you might be tempted to drive to Las Vegas. Understand that if you decide to drive there is the brutal drive home that somehow never seems as fun as the anticipatory trek to Vegas.
Consider a few tips for flying to Las Vegas instead. You should always buy in advance, for instance, as waiting until the last minute usually means you'll be paying more—in order to book a cheap vacation, you'll need to plan a few months in advance.
Utilize smaller airports in your area. For example; the convenience of flying out of Burbank or Ontario Airport coupled with slightly lower fares is a huge advantage over the mess that is Los Angeles International Airport, and parking cost less at regional airports as well.
If flying on a Saturday, prices go down slightly and there is traditionally less congestion at the airport, however, hotel rates for Saturday nights in Las Vegas are absurdly overpriced. Instead, pay just a bit more and arrive on a Sunday and realize a huge saving on accommodations, or, if you have vacation time during the week, flying out on Tuesdays and Thursdays can help cut costs, too.
Always check the airline websites prior to booking a fare for the best rates. These days airlines are trying hard to cut corners, that means offering flights at a better price than discounters in order to save on commissions. Knowing which airlines fly to Las Vegas and booking package deals to Las Vegas will help you a bundle and save on airfare and hotel costs.
Cheap Accommodations in Vegas
Oftentimes you read about great deals for hotels only to find out you have to take two buses and walk two miles just to get to where the action is, which is not the idea behind a cheap vacation—you want to enjoy yourself at all the spots that the big money people are but at a fraction of the cost.
Las Vegas in the middle of the week is far more affordable and can still be absurdly cheap on a Tuesday night. The defining factors are often conventions and major events but on average, rooms are cheaper during the week. Avoid weekends altogether if possible when table limits are higher, restaurants reservations are harder to come by, and the room might cost you three times as much.
Once again, compare rates at different hotels. The key to a cheap vacation is information and the more you have the better your chances of saving a few dollars. Location is also important. In Las Vegas, you need to have access to everything and the ability to walk from casino to casino. Hotels you should consider, each is in the center of the Las Vegas strip and consistently have lower room rates include Harrah's, The Quad, Flamingo, and Bally's.
Join a slot club such as the Total Rewards Club at Harrah's properties or The Players Club at MGM Mirage Properties. These hotels offer promotions for their members that can reduce the cost of your vacation.
Finally, always consider booking through the hotels directly. They usually honor any published rate regardless of where you found it. If you can prove you saw a lower rate, they typically will try to accommodate you.
Drinking on Dime
It should be understood that Las Vegas is the land of alcohol and the behaviors that are associated with too much drinking. As long as that is understood, you can now get a grasp on the simple fact that you have to save as much money as possible on alcohol as you can go broke on drinks alone on the Strip.
Drinks are usually free in Las Vegas casinos. Yeah, that's right, free drinks in Las Vegas. Now as long as you are gambling they will feed you alcohol, so get yourself to a nickel slot machine and sit around and wait for the cocktail waitress. Tip well and you will be drinking for a lot less than you think.
Avoid the clubs if you are trying to save money. The cost of a drink at Las Vegas clubs seems to be on a collision course with skyrocketing gas prices. Still, you should try to hit the bars in Las Vegas, even though they seem like tourist traps because they always have drink specials and the fun level is much higher than you think.
Carnaval Court at Harrah's and Margaritaville at the Flamingo are among the better bars to find good prices on the Strip, but be sure to check out this list of bars in Las Vegas to find some other great spots nearby. Also, do not drink while out to eat as you never save money on drinks at restaurants.
Cheap Eats and Snacks
Yes, the fine dining choices in Las Vegas have multiplied to such numbers that it would take you forever to try them all, and no, they are not cheap. Unfortunately, that means you might not have Foie Gras or Seared Halibut on a bed of Saffron Rice or a tiny overpriced filet, but f you are going cheap you can still eat well.
Consider a buffet but understand the good buffets are just as expensive as a decent meal. Unless you are planning on skipping meals and grabbing a few extra pieces of fried chicken for a late night snack, try a cheap restaurant instead.
Try a few of these 25 for under $25 restaurants, most of which have meals that can get you out for under $15—just do not drink any alcohol and you should be fine on your budget. You can also go the deli route for lunch and save a considerable amount. Canter's Deli in the Treasure Island, Carnegie at the Mirage, Stage Deli at the MGM, and Forum Shops and the Backstage Deli at the Luxor are all great places to get a sandwich for next to nothing.
Hotel food courts can be found in almost every hotel and they vary from pizza and hot dogs to full-blown tours of cultural cuisine for relatively cheaper prices. Explore this list of "77 Places to Eat Cheaply in Las Vegas" for a more comprehensive list of cheap dining establishments.
Cheap Thrills—Entertainment on a Budget
The truth is that the number of entertainment options available to you in Las Vegas makes it very hard to go cheap, but it is possible to find a show or concert without spending too much.
Use Tix4tonight, which has five locations on the Strip, to get half-priced show tickets, or check out one of the free entertainment options like the Fashion Show Mall in front of Neiman Marcus, the Hawaiian Marketplace near the Polo Towers, or the Showcase Mall next door to the MGM Grand. Although you can spend a lot of money at these markets, they also provide a free way to spend the day if you can resist buying a souvenir.
Check out some free attractions, see one of the many cheap shows in Las Vegas, or just people watch on the Strip for hours of entertainment. Oftentimes the best entertainment in Vegas is simply seeing the city itself with its throngs of tourists from all over the world—it's free to sit and stare!