The internet is packed with expert guides and tips for how to visit Las Vegas. But there are three different versions of the infamous Sin City. One is made up for movies and TV shows, one is displayed in advertising, and the real version is where 2 million people live and work.
If you’re just visiting, you probably don’t need to know what real estate prices are like. But it definitely helps to know a few of the secrets that Las Vegas locals say you should and shouldn’t do.
Some people roll into town thinking they can do whatever they want. But every city has its rules. Here are a few things locals say you should and shouldn’t do in Vegas.
1 – Don’t Carry Weapons Into Casinos
The state of Nevada is an “open carry” state. That means, if you legally own a firearm, you can carry it with you. You don’t need a permit to carry a firearm in public.
But it goes without saying that Las Vegas isn’t the Wild West. Despite occasional incidents, including the mass shooting in 2017, Vegas is a relatively safe city. You don’t have to worry about people pulling guns on you right and left.
But you’ll find that casinos operate by their own rules. They’re allowed to refuse business to anyone for any reason. And unless you’re carrying a badge with your weapon, they definitely don’t want your business.
Some people take their weapons with them when they travel. That’s a personal choice and, as long as you obey all the laws, most people are cool with that. But casinos don’t want weapons on their premises, so don’t be the fool who makes a fuss.
2 – Tipping Is More Than Just Paying Extra
Some people complain that “everyone has their hand out” in Vegas. Service industries in America are managed differently than service industries in most other countries. Vegas servers and personal assistants aren’t paid well compared to office and factory workers, so they work for tips.
While most people don’t feel comfortable tipping for service, it’s expected in a city that employs a lot of people in low-wage service jobs. You should study up on who to tip in Vegas and what going rates are.
Advice on how much to tip is sometimes unreliable, but if you see general agreement among a few guides on tipping, you’ll have a good idea of what to budget for.
Now, here’s where the “secret rule” comes in! Service workers in the industry actually tell each other who tips and who doesn’t.
Las Vegas hotel workers occasionally leave comments on social media describing how they handle people who don’t tip, bad tippers, and good tippers. They’re not asking anyone to dole out $50 bills, they just remember who tips well and who doesn’t.
They may provide better advice about where to go, what to do, and who to see when you’re in Vegas if you tip slightly better than average.
They may give you only lackluster service if they know you’re spending money everywhere in Vegas but on them. Remember, they’re working for those tips. Tip money is a substantial part of their income.
No one is entitled to a tip, but people who work in hotels, restaurants, casinos, and other service industries where tipping is expected made a personal choice to work in an industry where they can do things for other people. The least we can do is show our appreciation for their efforts.
3 – Don’t Act Like You’re at a Frat Party
A lot of people love those Hangover movies, but the citizens of Las Vegas are not impressed with people who try to recreate their crazy antics.
They don’t appreciate loud, arrogant drunks any more than the residents of other cities either.
If you think “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is true, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Psychology and sociology research shows that people are more willing to help children and women in distress than men. They’ve also shown that people are less likely to help someone who seems to be drunk.
So, if you drink yourself into being sick, don’t expect a darling angel or knight in shining armor to help you out. That only happens in movies.
4 – It’s a City in a Desert
This is true of many other cities in hot, arid climates. Visitors don’t realize just how quickly they become dehydrated. You’ll see people selling water bottles on the street and there’s a good reason why.
Instead of counting on someone always having a water bottle ready for you, take precautions. Keep water with you when you’re walking around outside. It’s a minor inconvenience, but you’ll appreciate the forethought when you feel thirsty.
Don’t go on desert excursions without water. The companies offering these entertainment services are good about posting signs, but it’s your responsibility to protect your health. If you know you’ll be spending a few hours outside, then take enough water with you.
People who are unused to arid climates don’t anticipate how quickly and often they become thirsty. It’s easy to quench that thirst when you’re in a casino or restaurant, but not so easy if you’re on a hike in Red Rock Canyon while taking a break from the on-Strip action.
5 – It’s Not Free Money If You See It Lying Around
Yes, you may occasionally “get lucky” and see a pile bills or an unattended bag sitting somewhere just waiting to be stolen. And some people are dumb enough to try to steal the easy pickings.
But don’t let temptation lead you into a sting operation. No matter how desperate you get, when you gamble with real money, there is no “I’ll pay it back when I win” scenario that anyone is going to believe or agree to.
More importantly, the police can’t be everywhere. Wherever they are, if there’s a few hundred dollars out in the open, it’s not a good day to test your luck. Fortune smiles upon the prudent traveler.
6 – Traffic on the Strip Is Anything but Simple
You may have heard the taxis won’t stop for you. You may have been told not to jaywalk in Vegas. Local ordinances don’t allow that. It’s all for your safety.
The Strip is too long to walk in a short time, and it’s far too crowded for almost anyone’s sense of comfort. If you really want a cab, find one of the taxi stations in the hotels.
But you’d better know how to get to your destination by the quickest route. Some taxi drivers will take the scenic route if you let them get away with it.
You can ride buses and public transit, but you need passes. You can buy them at kiosks or order them online. It’s cheaper to pay for a pass that lasts as long as you stay even if you don’t expect to use it much.
If you’re thinking you can use one-hour car rentals, think again. You have to park returned vehicles in designated spaces, and there may not be any near your destinations.
Plan your itinerary carefully in advance and have a fallback plan for each day. Always expect to pay money for parking, transportation, and gas.
7 – Don’t Believe the Promotional Hype
Not only does nothing stay in Vegas, some things are kept out of Vegas. One of the most surprising things that new Las Vegas visitors experience are all the trucks driving around with billboards displaying pictures of women and their phone numbers.
A man traveling by himself may be approached by an occasional sex worker or someone pretending to be a sex worker. It’s best to move on and not engage in idle conversation if things look like they are heading in that direction.
Vegas is also famous for its incredible shows. You’ll see pictures of big, roaring crowds and happy audience members. Some of the shows won’t appeal to you.
You can watch videos of many Las Vegas shows online and get an idea of what the performances are like. And if you attend a show in the daytime, the crowd might not be as big as you were led to believe.
In other words, choose safe entertainment based on your interests, schedule, and location.
Vegas is a magical place for millions of people to visit every year. But the city is also home to 2 million residents who go out of their way to make you feel welcome, so it’s best to respect these unofficial rules.
You’ll enjoy yourself more if you don’t indulge in too many over-the-top fantasies. Gamble in the big casino resorts and visit some of the historic locations. Your trip won’t be as fun if make a detour to the local emergency room or police lockup because you were careless or excessive.
Plan ahead, expect some delays and frustrations, and have a good time in the Sin City.