Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Trip to Las Vegas

Shocked Man With Hand on Forehead Next to a Las Vegas Map

My first trip to Las Vegas is something I’ll never forget. Once I saw the Strip during the flight in, I knew that finally traveling to Vegas was the right decision. If you plan your first trip, you could be on your way to the best vacation of your life.

The city is breathtaking and can be somewhat overwhelming for first-time visitors. For these reasons, it’s important to note a few things about Las Vegas and potential rookie mistakes you might make. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid on your first trip to Las Vegas.

1 ‒ Breaking the Bank on a Room

Las Vegas features a variety of iconic casinos and resorts worth exploring. Like most gambling hubs, there are a variety of casinos and hotels that cater to people from different financial backgrounds. You might feel inclined to book a room at one of the luxury casinos to get the full “Vegas experience,” but it’s unnecessary on your first trip.

You probably won’t spend much time in your room during your trip, especially if you’re an avid gambler. I’ve mentioned this before, but of the 72 hours I spent in Vegas, I was in my room for less than 15 hours. To save money for gambling and entertainment, consider taking a cheaper approach to your stay.

Several casinos and hotels around the city offer rooms for as little as $80 a night. Some of these options, like Treasure Island, Luxor, and Excalibur, are conveniently located on the Strip. Don’t worry about missing out on staying at one of the high-end casinos, you can always visit and gamble with the money you save.

2 ‒ Skipping Shows

It’s important to ask yourself why you should go to Vegas in the first place. It’s a fabulous vacation destination with an abundance of entertainment opportunities for a wide variety of people. There’s nothing wrong with going to Vegas to camp out at a real money blackjack table for most of your trip. But at some point, you should hop up from the tables and explore the city.

Cirque du Soleil Female Ring Performer

My biggest mistake in Vegas was refusing to do anything but gamble. If you’re on a heater and winning money, it’s next to impossible to stop gambling.

But Vegas offers tourists more than just gaming, and you should definitely explore those opportunities.

Las Vegas offers different types of shows ranging from comedic performances, live music, and impressive spectacles like Cirque du Soleil. Like most things in the city, the shows vary in price and don’t have to be overly expensive. If you want to save your money for gambling, several free shows are happening at all times.

3 ‒ Staying on the Strip

When I told my dad about plans to travel to Vegas, the only advice he offered was to visit the casinos in Downtown Vegas. Old Vegas holds some of the best parts of the city and offers tourists a reprieve from the Strip. The most well-known casinos and spectacles are on the Strip, but Old Vegas is somewhat of a hidden gem that’s still close by.

Gamblers may have dreams of hitting it big at one of the tables in the famous casinos, but Old Vegas features mainstays like the Golden Nugget and El Cortez. Gambling in Downtown Vegas can also be cheaper, which means new gamblers with lower bankrolls can play at the tables longer.

Staying on the Strip for an entire trip is a common mistake for first-time travelers due to the intoxicating energy and nonstop action. There’s nothing quite like walking down the Strip at night for the first time, so it’s perfectly understandable if you choose to stay there the entire time. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, book a ride, and check out other parts of the city.

4 ‒ Blowing Past Your Budget

Despite popular belief, Vegas doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. If you’re smart about booking rooms and flights, the city itself is affordable if you know how to approach it. One of the most common mistakes for new gamblers, in general, is a refusal to set a budget, especially when it comes to gambling.

Veteran gamblers refer to their gambling budget as a bankroll, and the best ones stop gambling after their bankroll is gone. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance of Vegas. That reason, combined with the tendency for novice gamblers to chase losses, leads to some blowing through their budget.

I recommend setting a weekly allowance for gambling to ensure you aren’t getting eaten alive by the casinos. To stick to this, get cash out before you head to the casinos and leave your credit card in the room. Everyone wants to win money in Vegas, but sometimes it’s not in the cards. If you can’t catch a winning hand, don’t ruin your trip by putting your finances in jeopardy.

5 ‒ Buying Drinks at Casinos

One of my favorite stories from my first trip to Vegas came within the first five minutes of walking into a casino. My buddies and I grew up gambling at a casino in Oklahoma that makes you pay for your drinks, so we were pre-conditioned to spend money on alcohol while gambling.

Before we sit down to play blackjack at our first casino in Vegas, one of my friends offers to buy a round of drinks. We wait in line at the bar, he buys a round, and we separate to explore the casino and find some tables. Two of my friends find a $10 table and start gambling while I continue to walk around and find a table I like.

Within minutes, I get a call from my friend who is incredulous. “We can drink for free if we’re gambling.” The point of this story is, don’t spend money on alcohol if you plan to gamble. Casinos in Vegas will pay for your drinks as long as you are gambling. Providing you and your friends with free booze might just

6 ‒ Sticking to a Strict Schedule

There’s nothing wrong with making a tentative schedule for your trip to make sure you can take in as much of the city as possible. First and foremost, a trip to Vegas is a vacation and should be a time to relax and decompress. If you make a point of sticking to a strict schedule, you can potentially deprive yourself of the opportunity to enjoy the trip.

I suggest making a soft agenda daily over breakfast but being open to change given the day’s events. You never know when a member of your party will start winning big at the tables, or maybe someone wants to deviate from the plan.

Wide View of Fremont East in Las Vegas

Be open to a change of plans, and remember that you’re in Vegas to enjoy yourself. By making a minute-to-minute schedule, you can force yourself into some uncomfortable situations that aren’t necessary. You aren’t going to be able to pack everything into your first trip, so don’t spread yourself too thin.

7 ‒ Setting Unrealistic Expectations

You’re not going to come back from Vegas as a millionaire. Expecting to win big is understandable due to the anticipation of gambling in one of the world’s greatest gambling cities. Don’t let the grandeur fool you, gambling in Vegas is just like gambling at your local casino.

Your strategy and play should not change based on where you’re gambling. If you’re the type of gambler to bet conservatively and get small wins where you can, don’t deviate from the norm. The previous point of sticking to your bankroll is also relevant and is crucial to your success.


Your first trip to Las Vegas should be an experience you never forget. I still think about the trip all the time and remember it fondly. Heightened expectations are reasonable, and it’s perfectly understandable to be excited. There isn’t a perfect plan to properly vacation in Vegas, but if you avoid the mistakes listed above, your trip will be all the more enjoyable.

If you’re gambling, remember to stick to a regular routine and strategy if you hope to win some money. But, if the wins aren’t coming, step away from the tables and explore the city. There’s so much more to Vegas than gambling. Enjoy your trip, and don’t try to pack everything in during your time in the city. Hopefully, you’ll have plenty of opportunity for more exploration on trips to come.