T here are few things better than taking a vacation. Whether you work full time, take care of small children, or just try to do it all, chances are that you feel like you need to relax and recharge for a while.
A vacation can give you a way to have fun and get away from work, chores, and the other responsibilities in life. It can also create family memories with a spouse or children that you will remember for a long time.
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Why go to Vegas?
About 42 million tourists visit Las Vegas, Nevada each year, and not all of them come for gambling or to see a great show. Besides the nightlife, Las Vegas also has a warm climate nearly all year round, some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, and great food, even for families that want to eat together in a comfortable setting.
In addition to shows and casinos, Las Vegas also has world class shopping and many different museums and attractions that can be seen during the day. There’s something fun for everyone to do, no matter your age or interest.
The Cost of a Vegas Vacation
One thing to consider when visiting Las Vegas is that it’s incredibly easy to spend a lot of money vacationing there. Budgetyourtrip.com estimates a one-week vacation for two to Las Vegas at $3,446, or $246 per person, per day, on average. Families’ costs may be lower than that per-person rate because kids often stay free at hotels, and admission for attractions is often at a lower cost or even free, depending on their age.
But even with these child-related discounts, you could well be paying over $4,000 for your family vacation to Las Vegas, especially if you have more than the usual one or two children.
It isn’t necessary to spend this much money in Las Vegas, however. This article will explain ways to save money while in Vegas so you can avoid wrecking your budget or can have something to put toward your next vacation.
1. Saving on Airfare
Your flight to Las Vegas may cost you several hundred dollars, depending on where you are traveling from. You can save money on your flight in a number of ways.
Fly at a non-peak time. The cheapest times of the year to go to Vegas are in July, August, and mid-December. If you can choose when to vacation there, these would be the best times for flight and other discounts. Also, Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly, so you will typically save the most money if you plan to fly on Tuesday.
Buy ahead. The best prices for flights usually come when you book 21-95 days in advance. Booking last minute is not a good strategy in the current climate, when many people are resuming travel after staying home for the last two years because of COVID.
Clear your browser history. If you have searched for flights before, sites may feed you higher prices, so be sure to clear your browser history or use a different computer or device for any subsequent searches.
Travel light. The more bags you bring, the more it will cost. You should be able to get by with a personal item and a carry-on in most cases, since it will be warm and you won’t need a lot of heavy clothes. Be sure to include luggage prices in the cost of each flight—some include a carry on at no charge, and others charge a fee for each carry on—and for each flight, to and from your location, including layovers in some cases.
Use reward points or miles. Be sure to check your credit cards for any reward points you may have, which can be redeemed for flights to make them cheaper or free. You can also use a reward credit card for regular expenses to earn miles toward your flight for several months before you book it, if you have thought ahead enough to do so.
2. Saving on Hotels
The average hotel in Las Vegas runs about $253 per night. And in Vegas you want to stay somewhere nice, not in a Super 8, right? Here’s how to save on your hotel stay without resorting to a bargain hotel chain.
Book directly with a resort. Most Las Vegas resorts have a best rate guarantee, so if you find a lower price at an equivalent property, you can get that price matched, along with another 25% off in some cases. You can also use promotions you may find online to bring the price down, and booking directly allows you to cancel if you need to, up to a few days before your stay.
Avoid weekend stays. Weekends in Vegas can cost 2-3 times as much as a mid-week stay. Monday to Wednesday are the best days to check in.
Join reward programs. Some hotel reward programs will save you 10%, and if you are a frequent guest at a casino resort, you may even get offers for free rooms and meals from time to time.
Stay off-Strip. There are plenty of nice hotels just a short distance from the Strip or downtown that cost much less than staying in a prime location, such as the Rio and Signature MGM Grand. You can still walk to the stripeasily from those hotels, but you will save lots of money for those few extra steps.
Avoid resort fees. Many resorts charge a daily fee, but you can ask for these fees to be waived if you don’t plan on using extra services like the gym or internet in your room. You can compare fees and include that in the cost of the room when comparing hotel prices, just in case you can’t get them waived.
Use reward points. If you have reward points with Marriott (Caesars), Hyatt (MGM), or IGH (Venetian and Palazzo), you can use them at the corresponding resort and get free nights or discounts. Generally, you need a lot of points to get much value at these resorts, but it may help you save if you are a frequent traveler.
Even if you don’t have points with these hotel chains, you can use credit card points toward your stay, just as you can for air travel.
Use AAA. If you are a AAA member, you may be able to save 10-25% on your hotel cost, if the hotel is a participating part of the program. MGM is one such participant.
Use Your Profession. If you are a first responder, teacher, student, or military member, you could get 10-30% off your stay at some resorts in Las Vegas.
Check back weekly. If you booked a refundable stay, check back to see if the price has come down since you booked. Sometimes there are also promotions you can get that weren’t available when you booked initially.
3. Saving on Food and Drinks
There are tons of specials on food in Las Vegas if you know where to look. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to get good food.
Use coupons. Las Vegas Advisor has coupons on the site and you will find coupon books at some resorts and visitor locations.
Ask for specials. Ask at any casino or restaurant for unadvertised specials, which are common.
Look at local paper. The local newspaper will have ads and coupons for places where locals eat, which are not artificially raised like tourist locations could be.
Eat at food courts. If you are traveling with kids, they may soon get tired of fancy food at sit-down restaurants anyway. The Strip has several food courts with cheaper options that will make them happy.
Opt for Snacks. Restaurant portions are typically large, and you may soon find that you get to the next mealtime without much of an appetite. Stopping at a nearby drugstore or convenience store for snacks may be all you need to get to the next meal, where your appetite will be back to normal and you will have saved a lot of money.
Don’t forget Groupon. You can use Groupon anywhere, not just in your local area, and save a significant amount of money on meals from restaurants offering discounts.
Share a meal. Instead of eating half your meal and wasting the rest, you can share a meal and eat for half the cost. This is also a good solution as kids begin to outgrow kids’ meals but can’t quite finish adult ones.
BYOB. You can bring your own drinks onto the Strip and into any casino, and yours will almost always be cheaper than theirs. In some casinos, waitresses will bring free drinks to those actively gambling at machines or tables, but you will need to tip them if you want them to ever come back, and even so, service is usually slow.
4. Saving on Transportation
If you are planning on doing a lot of activities that are miles apart or staying far off the Strip or other desired area, you may need to rent a car, but in many cases you can get everywhere you need to know without that expense.
If you do rent a car, you may have to pay parking fees at your hotel. Most of the free parking has now been turned into paid parking. You can save money by not using the valet, which is always more expensive than self-park.
In addition to Lyft and Uber, Vegas has a monorail system that travels between the strip and many of the local hotels nearby.
Some hotels offer free shuttles to and from the airport, and shuttle passes are available for a fee when free ones aren’t offered.
The Deuce is a bus that runs 24 hours a day up and down the Strip and around the area. A 24 hour ride ticket is $8. There are also trams between different hotels that can get you around the area more cheaply.
If you are healthy enough to walk a few miles every day and to take public transportation, you can get along quite nicely without a car in Vegas.
5. Saving on Attractions
A number of the shows and attractions in Vegas are free, and there are many ways to save money on the ones that do have a cost, if you are flexible and don’t mind last minute plans.
Tix 4 Tonight offers half price shows happening the same night that you buy them, either online or at booths around town.
The Las Vegas Explorer Pass offers options to get 3, 5, or 7 attractions at one discounted price over a 30-day period. If you plan a longer visit or like to see a show every night, this could be a good way to do it for less.
Some hotels offer discounts for patrons seeing a show at their location.
Freemont Street has roaming street performers, concerts and other special events that you can enjoy without spending a cent.
Hotels will give free club passes to those who walk through, even if you aren’t staying there. Sometimes you will even get to skip the line or get a free drink, too.
Oxygen bars are usually located near the casinos, and offer free back and head massages and oxygen machines, which are said to cure hangovers.
6. Saving at the Casinos
The best tip for saving at the casinos is to decide how much you will spend before you set one foot inside. If using cash, don’t use the ATMs inside the casinos, which charge hefty fees. Knowing about these fees should help you stick to your limits and not spend more than planned.
Some casinos will give you a free card with some cash preloaded to get you to try their place, and hopefully spend a lot more. This may also sway your choice of which casino to go to.
Using your player’s card every time you gamble will help you earn comps.
MyVegas is a Facebook game made by MGM’s rewards program, MLife. You can play the game for free and earn rewards and perks at several casinos. The more you play, the more you earn.
Follow the rules for each game, because if you play incorrectly, you will automatically lose.
For some people, it’s fun to spend time figuring out how to save money and do things in the cheapest way possible. For others, it just seems like way too much work and not at all what a vacation should be like—especially in a luxurious place like Las Vegas.
If you don’t relish the idea of a penny-pinching vacation, that’s okay. You can just pick out a few things that will save you the most money and leave the rest, as long as your budget can handle some splurging.
Whatever your bargain tolerance, these tips may help you afford to go to Vegas when you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. An enjoyable vacation is possible no matter what your budget or willingness to spend, if you are looking for ways to save without scrimping on what you want to see, eat and do.