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.
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, 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.
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!
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, and 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. These 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 by typing your 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 each day. You can pick the cheapest departing and returning flights for your budget.
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, and 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.
Use discount coupon sites
Remember Groupon? I still browse it from time to time to check for deals on food, drinks, and attractions.
Watch for 2-for-1 drink specials, 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 try new restaurants or activities without paying full price.
Reunite with nature
The only way to avoid entrance fees for seemingly every attraction 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.
Remember to dress for the weather. Make sure you bring extra water, food, and supplies on your nature trip in case of emergencies. Cellular reception isn’t reliable in these parks so let someone know where you’re going before you head out, in case they have to come get you.
Make sure to check the national or state park’s website for the most current fees, closures, and 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
$10 per non-commercial vehicle
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. 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 handing out their business cards on The 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.
Drink in your hotel room
A fancy cocktail can cost you $16 on the Las Vegas Strip. Why not make your own drinks for the same cost and have enough for everyone!
Fortunately, there are stores you can walk to on the Strip to buy drinks:
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
EATALY inside Park MGM
3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 730 – 7617
CVS by Aria
3758 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 262 – 9284
CVS by Bally’s
3645 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(702) 474 – 4089
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.
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.
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, 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 Road. There’s plenty of Korean BBQ, sushi, and noodle places to discover.
It’s hard to resist when the slot machines are shiny, loud, and have cute graphics! The downside is that your money can disappear within just one push of a button.
If you are going to gamble, set a hard limit. You can also read strategy books in advance to minimize your risk and losses.