I was in high school when Clark Griswold, a great pioneer of family vacations, trekked across the country to Las Vegas. It may have been my first inclination that I needed to make the same trip myself.
Many of you may be itching to experience your Sin City excursion, but are unsure where to begin. I’m going to breakdown the real cost of a Las Vegas casino trip to give you exactly that.
Why Las Vegas Should Be on Your Vacation Bucket List
Las Vegas offers something for everyone. They don’t call Vegas “The Entertainment Capital of the World” for its bookstores.
Of course, if book stores are your thing, you’ll find unique bookstores in Las Vegas. Including Bauman Rare Books, where you can snag your copy of a first edition Hemingway.
If you’re in the market, you should add between $700-$2,000 to your trip’s final cost.
Vegas has it all. From amazing headliner music acts to beautifully manicured golf courses, Vegas is truly an adult playground. You can even catch Carrot Top’s latest stunt. Assuming he takes a break from the gym.
Don’t forget the casinos. Let’s be real; the casinos are what drive the tourism industry in Las Vegas. And the tourism industry is what drives Las Vegas.
When you step off the plane at McCarran Airport, you enter the world of VIP status. You’ll receive the celebrity treatment by 95% of the daily workers in Las Vegas.
It’s a fantastic feeling and makes the entire trip feel special.
For this article, we’ll be basing our Las Vegas casino trip out of Dallas, TX. Dallas boasts two of the busiest airports in the country and is centrally located.
I’ll cover everything from airfare to souvenirs. Face it, there will be some sad friends and family that miss out, and nothing says, “wish you were there” like a mirrored shot glass.
You can typically find a decent hotel room in Las Vegas for around $100 a night. The price of the room will vary greatly depending on if you stay off the strip or not.
You can book a room at the excellent Aria hotel and casino for $120. Assuming you have two people per room, that’s only $60 per person.
This means your hotel costs for a 4 day/3 night stay will set you back only $180 per person for one of the most excellent spots in Las Vegas.
For example, you may save $40 a night by staying in downtown hotels. However, if you want to soak up all the action on The Strip, you could easily blow your savings on Uber rides from your hotel and back.
Shop around. Travel booking sites are continually competing for your business. You can save a considerable amount by playing the field.
To recap, you can get a room at the Aria with a King bed for only $60 a head. You are thus making the total for the trip $180.
You could drive to Las Vegas, but once you factor in fuel, meals, and hotels, you’ve far exceeded an airline ticket’s cost.
Besides, the last thing you want after a weekend of living the high life in Las Vegas is an 18-hour drive to get home.
Let the pros handle the interstate travel and enjoy some free pretzels.
I found round trip airfare on a leading airline out of DFW for under $100. Did I mention that’s a non-stop flight?
So, the notion that these are last-minute deals should be quelled.
Thus far, we have secured a luxurious room at one of my favorite Las Vegas casinos and round trip airfare on a top-tier airline for a total of $280 per person.
Is the thought of your own Las Vegas casino trip beginning to look more like a reality than a dream?
You’re Going to Get Hungry
As much excitement as there is in Las Vegas, you’ll still need to break from the action and eat.
You can quickly grab some fast food or enjoy a couple of buffets for about $30 per day. I can’t say this loud enough, “I am not a buffet person.” My wife has spoiled me with the most refined home cooking you could imagine, and I’ve grown accustomed to her culinary prowess.
However, some of the buffets in Las Vegas are just what the doctor ordered after gambling into the morning’s wee hours and attempting to function on only a few hours of sleep.
Las Vegas isn’t all crowded buffets, though. Some of the finest dining experiences in the country are found in the Nevada desert.
It would be best if you didn’t skip the chance to enjoy the full Las Vegas offering. World-renowned chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, and Giada de Laurentis all have excellent restaurants on The Strip.
Build-in $50 per person to enjoy one of these delicious meals, and your four day total stands at $170 on food.
Add that $170 to the previous $280, and you are well fed and sleeping it off in luxury for a mere $450.
If you are going to spend your time planning a Las Vegas casino trip, you’ll want to build in an entertainment budget.
Las Vegas boasts some of the world’s biggest stars as having regular live shows in the town. Catching a show is a part of the Las Vegas experience as it is the New York experience.
Please don’t drop the ball here, you’ll regret it. I would budget $50 per person to catch a decent show.
You may be able to work with the player’s club at the casino where you’re staying and score casino comped tickets, but you shouldn’t count on it.
Take the $450 from above and add $50 for a show. You’re having a pretty nice time in Las Vegas for only $500.
That’s almost as cheap as staying home and going to a Dallas Cowboys’ home game.
Roll the Dice
Or whatever game you choose to play when you’re in the casino.
How much you set aside for gambling depends significantly on how much time you intend to spend at the tables, slot machines, or Vegas sportsbooks.
I’ve read several places that $100 per day is average. If you are playing wisely and within your budget, $100 sounds about right.
You should be able to spend hours a day gambling and still have time to explore all that Las Vegas has to offer when you’re not on the casino floor.
A $100 a day budget puts you at $400 for a 4-day trip. You’re Las Vegas casino trip has cost you $900 so far.
Bonus Tip: Pick your daily gambling budget before you ever get to the airport. Once you’ve arrived in Las Vegas, please stick to your daily allowance like your life depends on it. No trips to the ATM.
Not a single trip back to the room to grab an extra $50 either. Your budget is your budget. If you blow through it, find something else to do.
Las Vegas offers some of the coolest shopping in the world. You may not have an extra $200k lying around for a new Richard Millie watch, but that doesn’t mean you have to come home empty-handed.
I recommend you don’t forget mom and the petsitter. If there are two people on the planet that you never cross, it’s the mom and the petsitter. That fact is bonus tip #2.
You should be able to cover the essential people in your life for $150. You are bringing your grand total to a very manageable $1,050.
I bet that you never imagined you could visit Las Vegas for the cost of $1,000. Now may be the perfect time to book your trip.
Try slipping the check-in personnel a $20 at check-in and ask if they have any free upgrades. The real cost of your Las Vegas casino trip may go up by $20, but you’ll still be under $1,100.
Totally worth it if you can get a suite.