Las Vegas has so much going on you’ll be able to plan several trips there without repeating anything you’ve ever done. But visiting Vegas is expensive. Your hotel room bill is only the beginning of all the charges and fees you’ll have to cover on your trip.
Give a little thought to your next trip to Vegas – especially if it’s your first – to save you time and money. You can’t see everything at once, so you’ll have to prioritize. You should use a map and a calculator when planning your trip.
No one can tell you if you’ll enjoy your time in Las Vegas, but most people will say you should go at least once. There is more to the city than just casinos and gambling. You’ll want to experience as much of the off-Strip entertainment as possible to get a taste of the full, real Las Vegas experience.
The idea is not to pass yourself off as an expert on Vegas. It’s just to manage your money and your experience. You’ll keep frustrations to a minimum and have a much more enjoyable visit.
1 – Be Ready to Tip Everyone
You may not have to tip everyone, but you should expect to tip a lot of service providers.
Basic tips run from $1 to $3, depending on your budget and how you feel about tipping someone. You’ll want to carry a few $1 bills on you but not a large wad of cash. Guys, buy a decent money clip to make it easy to get to the bills, so you don’t have to fumble through your wallet.
It’s customary for many restaurants and driver services to add a gratuity or other surcharge.
Other people you can expect to tip include valets, sommeliers, tour guides, and even restroom attendants.
A good rule of thumb for deciding on how much to tip is to look at how much time the person spends helping you. A restaurant server may cater to your needs for about an hour, and most people now tip around 20% of the check.
If you’re part of a group, then a group tip is usually acceptable. You don’t need to contribute as much in a large group as you do in a smaller group or as an individual.
2 – You Can’t Cover the Las Vegas Strip on Foot in a Day
First of all, not everything exciting in Las Vegas is on the Strip. Most of the city’s tourist destinations are elsewhere, so pay attention to where the places you want to visit are located. You’ll need a map.
Secondly, it takes more than a couple of minutes to walk between the hotels. A few of them are connected via tunnels or walkways, but walking the Strip is far easier said than done.
The Las Vegas Monorail runs beside the Strip and takes you to other parts of town. It may be your best bet for cutting down on travel time and costs.
3 – You’ll Need Nice Clothes to Get Into Some Establishments
Las Vegas may be a relaxed, family-friendly city, but you can only wear sandals and t-shirts to the pool-side bars. Elsewhere, you’ll be expected to dress up a little bit.
Real-life isn’t like the movies, fortunately. Unless you attend a formal dinner, you only need to wear slightly upscale clothing. Men should wear at least a sports coat and maybe a tie. Leather shoes are a must.
If you’re not sure about the dress code, then call ahead.
And it’s all part of Las Vegas’ appeal. When in Vegas dress comfortably in nice clothes. Leave the sequined dresses and tuxedos for the performers and serving staff.
4 – You Should Never Have to Pay Full Price for a Vegas Show
Las Vegas is always putting on a show for free. Just walking around town is an experience everyone should enjoy.
But when you’re ready to see one of the main attractions, look for discounts. They are everywhere. Some people even get into shows for free depending on where they are staying.
Why do venues advertise a full price that almost no one ever pays?
Well, that makes the real price of admission seem all that much more special.
5 – Ask a Hotel Concierge Before Making Your Evening Plans
There is so much to do in Las Vegas that even seasoned travelers cannot keep up with everything. All the nice hotels have helpful concierge desks. They are happy to make suggestions for you – especially since that is part of their jobs.
The hotels usually have contracts or reciprocal arrangements with several local clubs and restaurants. They may be able to get you some discounts, last-minute bookings, and sometimes even access to VIP rooms.
The concierge can also explain where to go and how to get there to the greenest tenderfoot to just step off the plane.
And you don’t have to be a guest in the hotel to just ask questions. If you’re visiting several of the resorts you can always ask their concierges for help, even if they reserve some services for guests.
6 – Expect Las Vegas Weather to Be Both Cool and Warm
It may surprise you to learn that Las Vegas sits about 2,000 feet above sea level. That’s not quite mountaintop thin air but you’ll feel it if you’ve spent your entire life living near the ocean front.
Weather conditions can be more extreme at even moderate altitudes like 2,000 feet. That means it gets hot fast when the sun is shining on you and it cools down quickly when the sun sets.
You’ll want to dress in comfortable, cool clothing for the daytime. Because Vegas is in the Nevada desert you probably won’t need a raincoat. Some people carry small umbrellas for sun shades during the day time.
At night you may want a sweater or light jacket.
And the casinos like to keep the air conditioning running so you may want to take a light jacket or sweater with you if you plan to spend any time in a casino. The same is true for all the indoor shows.
7 – Transportation in Vegas is Plentiful and Complicated
You’ll see lots of taxi cabs running on the streets but it’s illegal for them to pick up fares on the street. You’ll need to call ahead for a cab or get one at a hotel cab depot.
First-time visitors to Las Vegas often pay more for cab fare than other people because they don’t provide clear directions to the drivers. So-called long hauling occurs when the driver takes you the long way to your destination, running up the clock.
Use your smartphone to find the shortest route to your destination and make sure the driver takes you that way. Avoid the freeway as much as possible.
Alternative transportation is usually less expensive than taking a cab anyway.
You’ll find parking everywhere but little free parking. If you’re driving out of the city to visit nearby attractions and handling your own transportation, always ask if you can validate your tickets before you enter your destinations.
Everyone’s first-time experience in Vegas is a little bit different but we all learn a few unexpected lessons. And because the city changes so much over time old advice columns may not be as helpful as they were a few years ago.
Scouring the travel sites for tips about what to do and expect in a new city is a smart idea but unfortunately, a lot of those discussions are very old. You’ll need to visit the official Websites for the destinations, service providers, and cities to get the latest information you need.
And maybe the most important thing you need to know about Las Vegas is that if there isn’t an official Website for whatever you’re interested in then that place or service probably doesn’t exist.