Imagine the brilliant neon lights, flashy costumes and grand hotels of Las Vegas. Pretend you can hear the siren of a slot machine signaling a jackpot winner, or feel the cool water of a tropical-style pool tickle your toes. Ready to go but afraid you can’t afford to live it up in fabulous Las Vegas? Here’s a secret: You can!
There’s so much to see and do in Vegas that won’t deplete your bank account, from free entertainment to the chance to simply kick back with a complimentary drink and watch the crowd. You just have to do a little pre-trip planning and consider what you want most out of your vacation to one of the most fun destinations in the world.
Do you want to spend most of your time gambling? If so, plan to keep other expenses like hotel stays or restaurant meals low. Are you more interested in sightseeing? There are plenty of affordable options. In Vegas, there’s something for everyone, and you can still live like a rockstar even on a tight budget.
Before you get started planning an affordable trip to Vegas, get to know your budget. Consider how long you plan to stay in Sin City and the level of luxury you require. In general, here’s what you’ll want to include in your travel budget:
- Airfare, or gas if you’re driving
- Transportation costs once you arrive
- Tolls, parking meters and parking garage fees
- Stops along the way to Vegas
- Hotel accommodations
- Meals, drinks and snacks
- Attractions and admission fees
- Emergency fund in case someone gets sick
Now that you have a better idea of your budget, let’s look at how you can plan your trip to Las Vegas while saving lots of money.
When to Book Your Flight to Vegas to Save Money
First, you’ll need a ticket to get there, right? Here are some things to consider when booking your flight:
- Time of week: Vegas is always a happening place to be. However, you will have a greater chance of finding cheaper airfare if you book in the middle of the week instead of the weekend. For example, book your flight on a Wednesday, and plan to leave on a Sunday and return on a Tuesday.
- Airfare deals: Start your search a month ahead of time to see what your options are. You might have a better chance of finding a good package deal if you don’t wait too late. Make sure to book your flight at least two weeks ahead of time, as rates increase within two weeks of departure.
- Season: Fall and spring offer the most pleasant weather in Las Vegas, as summer is scorching hot and winter nights are freezing. You’ll find the best deals and enjoy the nicer weather if you book your trip March through May, or September through November. Avoid the crowds and higher rates in the summer and around winter holiday festivities.
- Your home location: There are different recommendations of when to book a flight to Vegas depending on what region of the country you live in. For example, if you live in New England, try to book 10 to 12 weeks ahead of time on a Tuesday. If you’re coming from the Mid-Atlantic region, reserving your flight four to seven weeks in advance on Tuesday or Thursday might work in your favor.
Some sites you’ll want to check out for the best airfare deals include:
- The Flight Deal
- ITA Matrix
- Southwest Airlines
Also consider using AwardWallet to track your frequent flyer miles, hotel and credit card points. These could come in handy when planning your trip.
Where to Stay for Affordable Luxury in Vegas
As of August 2017, the average daily hotel rate in the United States is $127.69. The average hotel rate in Las Vegas has increased over the years. However, don’t pack away your lucky horseshoe charm just yet. Las Vegas still offers incredibly reasonable accommodations, and some daily hotel rates cost less than a tank of gas.
Do a quick search on Hotels.com, and you’ll find that Las Vegas hotel rooms range from $19 a night to $988 a night. A lot depends on what you want out of your hotel experience. For example, do you need multiple dining areas and access to four outdoor swimming pools? Or are you content with just a bed, bathroom and premium TV channels?
Think about the level of comfort and types of amenities you want, and follow these tips to get the best deals:
- Try different booking sites: Some booking sites like Roomer Travel let you buy hotel reservations another traveler wishes to cancel and save up to 74 percent.
- Book midweek: Avoid reserving a stay over a weekend if you can, and book midweek instead. You’ll deal with fewer crowds, and many hotel rates are drastically lower from Sunday through Thursday. Don’t worry about missing out on entertainment. Vegas always has something going on no matter what day of the week it is.
- Compare hotel rates: Get an idea of what different hotels are charging during your planned stay. Consider booking directly through your hotel of choice too, as they may match prices.
- Search for deals: Visit different sites like Travelzoo or official tourist sites like Visitlasvegas.com or Vegas.com for special offers.
- Join a rewards club: Hotels and casinos offer these and you can grab discounted room rates. Consider M Life Rewards with MGM Resort or the Wynn Insider Program for a 15 percent discount at the Wynn hotel.
- Stay in downtown Las Vegas: For more affordable accommodations than the Strip and to check out what Las Vegas used to be like, the Golden Nugget and Four Queens are popular hotel choices.
- Give yourself time to discover the best deal: Once you find an offer that you feel really good about, grab it before it slips away.
- Try to be flexible: If you’re open to location, arrival and departure dates when searching, you could find a great deal.
- Check the Las Vegas Convention Calendar: Las Vegas is a major location for these events, and the calendar will help you determine where and when to book to avoid high rates during conventions. Also avoid booking your stay during big festivals or sports events.
- Remember to factor in resort fees: The large hotels on the Strip have fees that aren’t included in hotel price. Do your research to make sure your room won’t have an extra 20-30 dollars a night tacked on after booking. Some hotels don’t charge a resort fee, like the Fremont Hotel and Casino downtown.
Here are some hotels that offer all the glitz and glam of Vegas:
- Treasure Island Resort & Casino: You can expect clean, modern rooms in a convenient location. Lots of nearby attractions are within walking distance, like Madame Tussauds wax museum and Grand Canal Shoppes.
- Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino: Another fun choice. When the weather is warm, you can reserve a poolside cabana and feel like you’re at a tropical beach in the heart of the Strip. You can also make friends with flamingos, ducks and koi fish for free at the Flamingo Wildlife Habitatfor free.
- Golden Nugget: While not on the Strip, this hotel doesn’t fall short of lively Vegas fun. At Golden Nugget you can enjoy free parking, possibly the best pool in town, a casino and nine restaurants. Wouldn’t you like to take a ride down a waterslide next to a real shark tank?
- Luxor Hotel and Casino: You could channel your inner Egyptian king or queen and stay in the iconic pyramid-shaped hotel right in the middle of all the action.
Vegas has plenty of affordable options that allow you to stay close to all the action without having to sacrifice experience. If you plan on spending a lot of time in your hotel room, it might be worth giving up a little extra cash for certain amenities or comforts. However, if you intend to use the room only for sleeping and freshening up, you could save a ton by cutting out unnecessary luxuries.
How to Get Around Town for the Lowest Cost
Las Vegas is a pedestrian-friendly city, but exploring by foot during the summer can be rough. Summer months can get as high as 106 degrees on average. Unless you plan on staying in the pool or air-conditioned hotel room, you might want to have money set aside for transportation. If you plan right, you won’t have to spend a lot to get around.
Some transportation tips to consider:
- Car rentals: Avoid car rentals because of parking fees.
- Taxis: Stay away from overpriced taxis when you can. However, a taxi may be worth the extra cost if you need a ride back to your hotel at a late hour. Otherwise, you might find yourself waiting for a ride.
- Walking: Keep in mind that most hotels have free parking. You can save a lot by walking from your hotel if the weather is tolerable, or by taking other forms of transportation and avoiding parking fees.
Consider using these budget-friendly forms of transportation:
- Services like Uber or Lyft: These apps almost always cost less than taxi fares, and they’re good for traveling the Strip.
- Use the monorail: $5.00 a trip or $12.00 a day. The monorail stops at seven points along the Strip, and it’s even better if your hotel is near the monorail stop. The only downside is that it doesn’t run all night.
- Ride The Deuce: This public bus service goes to the Strip and downtown. You can conveniently buy your tickets on the bus. The Deuce is the cheapest form of transportation from the Strip to downtown Vegas.
- Get in a limo: That’s right. It may be the cheapest way to get to your hotel from the airport. The catch? You might have to share the ride with other people. The advantage? It could cost only $10.00.
- Share a cab: You could also share a cab with others heading in the same direction to significantly reduce costs.
With an open mind and a little research, you can cover all of Vegas without going broke or suffering from a heat stroke.
What to Do and See on a Budget in Vegas
Even if you only had enough money to get to Las Vegas, eat a few cheap meals and book a room, you’d still be able to have a good time — Las Vegas is an attraction in itself. Also, there is no shortage of free and fun things to do.
Here are a few free things to check out while in Vegas that you won’t want to miss:
- Visit the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: Located inside the Bellagio Hotel, you can take in the beauty of vibrant scenes made of plants and trees, open 24 hours a day.
- Go to the circus: Watch unicyclists and trapeze artists perform every half hour from above the casino floor at the Circus Circus Hotel.
- Indulge in cacti and chocolate: Want to get away from all the excitement of the Strip and take a stroll through a cactus garden while indulging in some chocolate? For free? Take a short drive to Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens to watch chocolate being made, sample your favorites and then wander three acres of cacti.
- View fine art: take a three-mile trip to the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. Although the museum is free, a small contribution of $5.00 is appreciated.
- Take your own version of a famous picture: Complete your trip by visiting the 1959 “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Who needs postcards when you can park your car and take a selfie in front of Vegas’s most famous sign?
If you have a few bucks to spare, here some low-cost but highly memorable things to do in Vegas:
- Gondola rides: Go on a gondola ride at The Venetian.
- Ride a zip-line: Fly over the heads of fellow Vegas visitors on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
- Check out the Hoover Dam: You may be able to view it for free if you can find the right parking spot.
- Hang with dolphins: Get close to bottlenose dolphins at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
- Gamble a few pennies…or dollars: Take a break from the Strip and gamble with locals downtown.
Interested in seeing a Vegas show? Check out Groupon for the best deals. Also, a lot of hotels feature amusing displays and entertainment for free. For example, watch a volcano erupt outside the Mirage Hotel and Casino, or enjoy an animatronics show at Caesars Palace.
How to Eat Cheap on the Strip
While in Vegas, you have to make sure to get enough fuel to keep up with all the fun and excitement. Fortunately, you can stuff up on tasty treats and still have change for the slots.
Here are some quick tips to save on vacation eats:
- Research pre-theater menus. You can enjoy a quality four-course meal for a reduced price before a show at some hotel restaurants. You don’t even need a ticket to take advantage of a pre-theater discount. Go to OpenTable to check what’s available.
- Purchase a Las Vegas coupon book: Do this before your trip to save on meals, or get discounted restaurant gift certificates from Restaurant.com.
- Eat continental breakfasts: If your hotel has one, take advantage of the free breakfast and avoid room service.
- Indulge in a large lunch: Stuff up at lunch when prices are lower.
- Bring your own: Load up on snacks at the grocery store or pack food from home to take on your trip.
- Have happy hour: Look for happy hours for drinks and half-price appetizers.
- Bring water with you: Carry a reusable water bottle with you.
- Eat like a local: Research Yelp to narrow down inexpensive eateries and find the best ones.
- Pick lighter faire options: Most restaurants, even the pricier ones, offer inexpensive items on their menus.
- Plop down at a penny machine and take advantage of free drinks: Make sure to tip your waitress at least a dollar with each beverage. Stop at the Wynn for the best complimentary drinks in town.
Here are a few places to check out on the Strip for a satisfying meal:
- Tacos El Gordo: Make a stop to fill up on a couple of authentic Tijuana-style tacos, made from scratch.
- Earl of Sandwich: Try the Holiday Turkey sandwich, complete with cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and mayo. This joint is open 24 hours in case you need a bite after a night of drinks.
- Dirt Dog: Get crazy with wild hot dog combos like the House Dog — bacon, thousand island and green chile spread. Or enjoy a break from the low-carb diet and indulge in a deep-fried Twinkie.
- Masla: Like Indian food? Also open 24 hours, they’ve got affordable South Indian dishes, tandoori chicken and biryani. Many items are under $10.
Leave Some Room in Your Belly for Our Sinfully Good Pizza
Want to know where to go to satisfy your pizza craving while in Sin City? Stop in at Giordano’s for the best deep dish pie on the Strip! Created by Mama Giordano in a small Italian town, our pizza carries on the love and flavor of tradition. Each pie is handcrafted with a double crust, stuffed with Wisconsin mozzarella and baked fresh especially for you.
Since 1974, we’ve been serving the best Chicago-style pizza in the world. We also offer other affordable and tasty Italian dishes on our menu. From chicken parm subs to our own personal-size Italian beef pie, we have the treats to make you feel at home in mama’s kitchen.
Are you hungry? Visit us on the Strip or place an order for take-out. Here at Giordano’s, we’re excited to serve you a pizza pie you won’t forget!