Before my husband and I moved here, we would often go to Las Vegas for a quick weekend trip or for someone’s wedding. The costs can add up if you’re not careful, and a “quick trip” can cost as much as a week-long vacation!
Las Vegas is a great destination for a cheap getaway trip. My city has so many things to offer that anyone can have fun, even if you’re on a budget. Here are tips I’ve actually used in the past so you can save money on your next trip to Vegas.
1. Don’t bring a “carry-on” bag
Low-cost airlines like Spirit or Frontier appear like a gift from the heavens, offering plane tickets for under $100.
The reality is, it really is too good to be true: they will charge you for everything. They can charge you for a carry-on bag, extra leg room, a seat by the front of the plane, or a beverage during your flight.
To avoid paying the $30+ fee for a carry-on, I just don’t bring one.
You see, most low-cost airlines allow a free personal item. My backpack fits the dimensions for a “personal item” so I don’t get charged for it. As of January 2019, Spirit Airlines allows a “laptop bag or purse smaller than 18″ x 14″ x 8” as a personal item.
Travel tip: If your bag doesn’t fit under the seat in front of you, airlines will count it as a “carry-on” bag and charge you an additional fee.
Before you pull this off, make sure you check the airline’s current baggage policy, because they can change it at any time. Also, this only works for a quick weekend getaway: you won’t have enough room if you’re here for a week!
2. Find cheaper flights
As a rule of thumb, don’t come to Las Vegas around days with big sporting events, conventions or New Year’s Eve if you plan to spend as little as possible on your trip. I’ve also noticed cheaper flights during certain days in the winter (December, January & February).
You don’t have to pore over sports or convention schedules: there are a lot of tools nowadays to help you find cheap dates to fly in and out of Vegas. Here’s two that have been helpful for me:
Hopper is a useful app I use to find cheap dates to fly and to get alerts when prices drop. Download Hopper from the Google Play store on your phone or the App Store if you have an iPhone.
Start with a destination. Then, Hopper will show you the average plane ticket prices for each month in the current year. This is helpful in gauging which months have cheaper flights.
I also use Hopper to track ticket prices for a certain destination. The app will tell you to wait for cheaper prices or buy now when they predict the prices will go higher. The most helpful feature is that I get a notification on my phone when it’s the best time to buy.
One tool I use often in Google Flights is the Price Graph. First, search for flights on a destination. When you get your results, look for an icon that says Price Graph along the top of the page.
This will list the exact dollar amount of how much the plane tickets are day by day. You can pick the cheapest departing and returning flights for your budget.
3. Sign up for a player’s card
Even though you’re not going to gamble much (or at all), you should still sign up for a player’s card. You’ll accumulate points every time you spend on hotel rooms, dining & other activities.
Once you’re a member, you’ll have access to special hotel rates, and you’ll get emails as soon as they release them. My parents got a discount on a Bellagio room for New Year’s Eve since they stayed there the year before.
4. Use discount coupon sites
Remember Groupon? I still browse it every week to check for deals on food, drinks & Las Vegas attractions.
Watch for 2-for-1 drink deals, restaurant coupons, and lower entrance fees. I’ve found discounts on Caesar’s Palace Bacchanal buffet for weekday brunch and the LINQ Promenade’s High Roller here.
It’s also a great way to discover new restaurants or activities without paying full price.
5. Reunite with nature
Parks and nature spots you can drive to from The Strip (in red).
The only way to avoid entrance fees for seemingly everything on the Las Vegas Strip is to get off the Strip completely.
Fortunately, many national and state parks are within driving distance of the Las Vegas Strip. Entrance fees are around $10-$35 for the whole day.
Make sure to check the national or state park’s website for the most current fees, closures & weather alerts.
As of January 2019:
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
$15 per vehicle
Mt. Charleston Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Valley of Fire State Park
$10 per vehicle
Grand Canyon National Park
$35 per vehicle
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
$25 per vehicle
Travel tip: Dress for the weather and make sure you bring extra water, food & supplies on your roadtrip in case of emergencies.
6. Get your name on the guest list
You don’t have to pay for full price if you want to go clubbing in Las Vegas (especially if you’re a girl).
Start by asking your concierge to help you and your friends get into one of their affiliated nightclubs (several properties in Vegas are owned by one company). For example, if you’re staying at The Cromwell, you can get free entry to Drai’s Dayclub.
You can also get in touch with a nightclub promoter directly. You can find some giving away their business cards to passersby on the Las Vegas Strip. You can also search for promoters on Instagram by searching club hashtags (#omnia or #hakkasan, for example). Most of the time they text back asking how many people you’re bringing with and the ratio of boys and girls in your party.
If there’s a special event going on, you might not get in for free, but at a discounted rate instead.
7. Drink in your hotel room
A fancy cocktail can cost you $16 on the Las Vegas Strip. Why not make your own drinks in your hotel room and have enough for everybody?
Fortunately, there are stores you can walk to on the Strip to buy your ingredients:
CVS by Aria
3758 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 262 – 9284
CVS by Bally’s
3645 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 474 – 4089
ABC Stores by MGM Grand
3771 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 736 – 5937
ABC Stores inside the Miracle Mile Shops
3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 733 – 7182
ABC Stores inside Fashion Show Mall
3200 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 732 – 2358
You can also try Total Wine or Lee’s Discount Liquors by car if you don’t mind venturing south of the Strip or in the suburbs.
8. Take advantage of happy hours
Drinking and dining during happy hours is one way to save money on the Las Vegas Strip. Happy hours are special times where restaurants offer discounts on certain menu items or drinks.
For example, you can get 50% off on appetizers from 5 pm to 7 pm. Happy hours are usually before the usual dinner hours or late at night. It’s a great way to save money if you don’t mind eating at odd hours.
To read our complete list of Las Vegas happy hours, click here.
9. Dine “Off Strip”
Since we moved here, my husband and I only dine on the Strip during special occasions. Prices for restaurants on the Strip can be astronomical compared to their actual value. What you’re really paying for is the ambiance and the convenience of the location.
If you want to eat at really good affordable and moderately-priced restaurants, most of the time you’ll find them off the Las Vegas Strip.
Chinatown is easily accessible from the Las Vegas Strip. From the Strip, drive, get a cab or Lyft west along Spring Mountain Rd., and you’ll find cheaper restaurants along Chinatown. There’s plenty of Korean BBQ, sushi & noodle places to choose from. My favorites are Big Wong, Japanese Curry Zen & Magal BBQ.
10. Don’t Gamble
It’s hard to resist when the slot machines are shiny, loud and have cute graphics! The downside is your money can disappear very quickly within a push of a button or a roll of a dice.
If you are going to gamble, set a hard limit. You can also read strategy books in advance to minimize your risk and losses.
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