Las Vegas Travel Hacks

Las Vegas Sign

You may think I’m crazy, but I began my backpacking world trip in the glitz and glam of Las Vegas.

Vegas used to be the home of cheap hotel rooms and .99c buffets... unfortunately this no longer seems to be the case.

This was my second visit to Vegas in two years and I definitely noticed the price increase. I have also heard many second hand accounts from family and friends about how surprisingly cheap it was back in the day.

Vegas is by no means a budget destination any more, however there is no reason to avoid it if you are budget traveller and really want to see what all of the fuss is about.

There are still plenty of Free things to do in Las Vegas and insider tips and tricks out there that will get you by in Vegas, without having to rely on a big win at the tables!

Here are a few of my favourite Las Vegas Travel Hacks...

1. Free Alcohol

 Drank all night, and still broke even!

Drank all night, and still broke even!

Did you know that at any Las Vegas casino, if you are gambling, an angel in the form of a cocktail waitress will take your drink order and bring you back any drink you want... FOR FREE?! Yep, you heard me right folks, ANY drink you want: Beer, wine or spirits.

So seriously, there’s gotta be a catch right? I hear you saying... how exactly does it work? 

It’s simple: 

Step one: Sit your ass down at a pokie (slot) machine, or at one of the tables  

Step two: Start gambling. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing one cent a line, or sitting at the high roller tables

Step three: Flag down the first waitress that you see, or wait patiently for a few minutes if you’re not that bold 

Step four: Order your drink and don’t move until she comes back

Step five: TIP YOUR WAITRESS. This is possibly the most crucial of the steps. If you don’t tip your waitress you better believe she ain’t coming back! 

So if we’re counting technicalities, no your drink isn’t “free” per se because you do have to be gambling and tipping... but at least you get to experience that Las Vegas gambling as well as getting your drink on for as cheap as one cent a pull. 

 

2. Cheap Alcohol  

Walgreens cheap alcohol Walgreens

Good effort, you’ve tried out hack #1 and done some gambling, but now you’re ready for a wander up and down the strip. You don’t want to start paying top dollar for drinks at the bars. 

VIVA LAS VEGAS - You can walk around in public, with any alcoholic drink in your hand! And God Bless America, you can buy that alcohol from the pharmacy. On almost every corner, you will find a Walgreens, which has a fridge at the back with singles and six packs. 

Instead of stopping at a bar, or buying off the street, you can pick up a beer for $2 and keep walking. 

Don’t let the desire of those huge $20 novelty cups draw you in. If you MUST HAVE a novelty cup, you can pick one of those up too at Walgreens or one of the souvenir shops for cheap and keep refilling it with your cheap pharmacy drinks. 

 

3. Try the $20 Sandwich Trick 

This accommodation hack isn’t so much about saving money as it is getting the best value for your money. The ‘Sandwich Trick’ is a method tourists to Las Vegas have used for eons to try and score a room upgrade. The theory is that you book the lowest available room at your hotel for a cheap rate, and when you check-in, sandwich a $20 note between your credit card and license/passport when you hand it to the concierge. They are not allowed to accept bribes, however they can accept tips. Then when you check-in you should have a nice balcony or larger suite waiting for you. 

Lucky for me, when I checked into the Signature at MGM, I was offered an upgrade for $7/night anyway so sometimes it also pays to visit during weekdays (rather than weekends) or in off-peak periods.

Booking.com

4. LOOK out for Pesky Resort Fees

4 Queens Downtown Las Vegas

One great thing about Vegas still is that accommodation is relatively cheap, compared to other major cities in the US. The reason for this is that the casinos are happy for you to pay $100 a night to stay at their hotel, and then gamble all of your money at their machines on your way out of the maze that is their casino.

Still though, if you are trying to be extra thrifty, there are a few hacks to cut costs.

Firstly, you may or may not notice in the fine print of your booking that all Las Vegas hotels charge a ‘resort fee’ upon check in. My $80/night room at the Signature at MGM charged an extra $40/night in fees as soon as I checked in... plain rude! Do your research on Resort Fee Checker  and weigh up whether it’s worth paying slightly more for your room at a resort that charges a smaller resort fee. 

BONUS: The Four Queens on Fremont Street DO NOT charge resort fees. 

5. Stay in Downtown Vegas

Fremont Casino Las Vegas

Yet another way to save a bit of moolah on accommodation is to consider staying in Downtown Las Vegas, on Fremont Street, rather than the modern strip Fremont Street is actually where ‘Vegas’ as we know it began. However as the demand grew, Vegas relocated to the Strip as we know it today. Classic, older hotels like The Golden Nugget still remain on Fremont Street, and it is a great place to visit.

For that classic old-timey Las Vegas feel and a cheaper room, I’d highly recommend a stay on Fremont Street.

6. Gamble on Fremont Street

If you can’t tell already, I love Fremont Street, probably more so than the the Strip itself. There’s just something about Downtown that has a little bit more magic for a tourist, from the free entertainment under the roof to the dancing ladies on the bars and tabletops. Fremont Street is a lot smaller, so everything is much more condensed not as far to walk between casinos.

Gambling on Fremont Street is also much more exciting for beginners, for a few reasons: 

  • It is easier to find a blackjack, roulette or poker table with a lower minimum bet

  • The tables aren’t as crowded with intimidating gamblers

  • A lot of the dealers are really friendly and will actually coach you if you’re a beginner and the table is fairly quiet. We had a legend of a dealer, Angie, at Main Street Station Casino who helped us out quite a bit on the Blackjack table.

  • The slot machines are ‘looser’, meaning they jackpot more often

Fremont Street Las Vegas

7. Sign up for Membership Cards

Every time you walk into a new casino that you intend to gamble or eat at, head straight for the customer service counter to sign up for their free membership program.  

As I mentioned, gone are the days of the 99c buffet, however often members of the casino are entitled to discounts at the restaurants and bars, and can accumulate points when gambling to use as free credits. Plus maybe a few other goodies like a deck of cards or free shirt.

Remember to bring your passport along as some casinos don’t accept foreign licences.

Las Vegas Chapel

 

8. Sign up for Free Entry to Clubs

You will find that if you want to hit the clubs in Vegas, there will be a cover charge for all of the good ones, and even bigger cover charge if you’re a man. 

Sign up to  No Cover Nightclubs to receive free entry into the clubs of your choice. Often there will be conditions like you have to arrive by a certain time to receive the free entry, but it could end up saving you $100’s if travelling in a group.

 

9. Dress Accordingly

Dont forget that Vegas is in the middle of the desert and it’s hot as balls! The Strip is also a very large place, about 4.2 miles long to be precise.

It pays in the long run to strategically plan your outfit for the day! If you are going to be out exploring, bar hopping, walking the Strip etc. During the day you are going to want to wear your comfiest pair of walking shoes and some light, breezy clothing. Don’t forget you can always come back to your hotel room to put on your hooker heels and little black dress before you hit the clubs. 

Throughout the door you willmost likely pass between many air conditioned establishments, so bring a pashmina to wrap around your shoulders if you’re generally a cold fish, but it is that hot outside you will welcome the cold air.

 

10.Sleep in 

It’s true, Vegas is the city that never sleeps, but you should! The best time to get some shut eye is in the wee hours of the morning, and don’t worry about setting that alarm for the morning. If you wake up around midday, not only have you saved yourself money on breakfast but it will still be the heat of the day so you’re not missing out on much.

Spend your afternoon exploring those heavenly air conditioned buildings and avoiding the desert sun! We woke up at 11am on our first morning in Vegas, kicking ourselves that we had slept in, but quickly realised that we hadn’t missed out on anything and were refreshed to party on through the night. 

 The city that never sleeps

The city that never sleeps

 

11. take advantage of happy hour

 The view of the Strip from 107 SkyLounge at the Stratosphere

The view of the Strip from 107 SkyLounge at the Stratosphere

Surprise, surprise! It's another tip to help get you drunker for less... I'm sensing a theme here.

Before I got to Vegas, I checked Las Vegas Happy Hour to know where to find the best drink deals. Walking down the Strip with a bev is good fun, but sometimes you just need to stop for a nice cocktail and watch the world go by.

If you're this way inclined, make sure to take full advantage of Happy Hour to get half price of 2 for 1 drinks. I wanted to check out the view from the Stratosphere bar, so I made sure to be there between 4pm and 7pm for their half price cocktails.

 

 Caesar's Palace - You could spend a day alone just exploring each casino

Caesar's Palace - You could spend a day alone just exploring each casino

12. Don’t pay for entertainment... or at least don’t pay full price

Every place you look in Vegas, there is something happening... Shenanigans at the bar, characters posing for photos down the street, live bands, magicians, street performers, the Bellagio fountains, you name it!  

Las Vegas has so many award winning shows like the Cirque du Soleil’s and famous concerts, but if you are penny pinching and travelling on a budget probably the best travel hack I can give you is just explore and enjoy the magic that is Las Vegas!

If you are desperate to catch some sort of a show, wait ‘til you get there and see what shows are on special that particular night at one of the booths. 

 

 

 

 

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What other great travel hacks do you have? Please share them in the comments below!