So last weekend, Andy and I went on a quick vacation to Vegas. We had been looking for a great deal on tickets for a while, and in early February we found one that made us jump. We were stalking Expedia, and other travel sites, keeping an eye out for Groupons and finally one yielded results. We booked a 3 night stay with two round trip tickets for $420 TOTAL on Expedia.com. We stayed in the Riviera and flew United. We wanted to spend as little as possible, so we set out on a mission to do a weekend in vegas in under $1000 total (including air and hotels). I am excited to share how we were able to do that and have a GREAT weekend.
First, we budgeted all of our money. We took cash, so we could monitor what we were spending in which category. We had a baggie for Food, Transportation, Gambling and Entertainment. For two days in Vegas, we budgeted $200 for food, $100 for transportation, $100 for gambling and $100 for Entertainment. We did some research of what we wanted to do, so we could get the best deals possible. We knew we wanted to go to the Price is Right Live so we planned on spending that money. We had a general idea of restaurants we wanted to hit, and things we wanted to see/do. Planning really helps you save money.
When you get to the airport and are deciding the best way to get to your hotel, you have to decide on a shuttle or a taxi. Since no shuttles go to the Riviera (that we could find) we opted with taxi. The taxi driver will ask you if you want to take the highway. SAY NO! It takes WAY longer and he makes more money on your ignorance. We learned this when our taxi ride TO the hotel was $40 but from the hotel to the airport was only $13. Lesson Learned!
Once we got to the hotel, we had to wait in a huge line to check in. This is normal. If you get into Vegas and you want to go right out to see the sights and gamble, you can leave your bags with the Bellman and be on your way. Just check in later. We got in at 1:30 am so we were just ready to get to our room to sleep :)
While staying at the Riviera is cheaper, it is farther from the big name hotels you probably went to Vegas to see. It is on the strip, but it is pretty far north. This means you will have to find a way to get to the south side without your legs falling off. I recommend the Deuce. The Deuce is a double decker bus that runs up and down the strip all day long. It is only $7 for 24 hours (and calculates that from the minute you buy it) which is a great deal. It stops in front of most hotels, and you can ride it unlimited for those 24 hours. We would take the Deuce everywhere. Of course, you can walk, which we did a lot of, but for those long distances, $7 is totally worth it.
If you want to see a show, DO NOT BUY THE TICKETS FROM THE BOX OFFICE! Sorry to yell but you are seriously wasting your money. ALL over the strip are these booths called "Tix 4 Tonight" that sells half price or discounted tickets. They don't have tickets for everything (sorry if you wanted to see Garth Brooks) but they do have all of the Cirqe shows and they had Price is Right, which is what we wanted to see. We were expecting to pay $52 a ticket, which is the listed price. At the Tix 4 Tonight, we paid $23 per ticket. That is less than half! The tickets were great, in the 4th row center, and we talked to the people the row in front of us, and they paid full price! They were pissed and we were smug.
The Tix 4 Tonight also has deals on eating, so check there too. We didn't get any of those because we weren't planning on eating anywhere fancy, but you could get half off your meal at the Bally's Steakhouse for $5. Not a bad deal at all. Speaking of food, skip the buffet. I know it seems like "such a good deal" all you can eat, but the food is almost always crappy and not worth the $20 a head to get in. I was very disappointed with the quality and selection, and stopped by Subway because I was hungry.
If you love to gamble, I can't help you spend less money. Just be conservative and try not to blow your child's college fund or your retirement money on the slots or tables. We took $100 to gamble and we decided to find a slot we enjoyed (the Batman game) and see if we could find it at every casino we went into. If we did, we would put in $5 and play it down. Or if we won, we would pull it out and put in another $5. We were able to only spend $100 gambling, and we had lots of fun.
All in all, we had a great vacation, saw a lot, walked even more, and really enjoyed ourselves. It felt even better bringing home money, and coming in under budget at $915 spent. Yes, $1000 is a lot for one weekend with two people, but you could do far worse in Vegas.
And now for some pictures!