Before we dive right in, I want to announce that this is the absolute, very first post that is also available as an mp3! Think of it as a very short audiobook. If you’re like me, you get a little motion sick when reading on planes, trains, and automobiles, so this is for all you Dramamine addicts. It’s also a great option for people with special needs, folks who simply take in information better through spoken rather than written word, and anyone who is on the go. Download it and enjoy on the road!
You can download the mp3 of this post here.
I love Vegas. It oozes this sort of kitschy charm and life of excess that I’ve never seen anywhere else. I don’t want that all the time in my life–I’m sure living in Las Vegas is an incredibly different experience from visiting. It’s simply that I don’t have that or desire that in any part of my life, so to be completely immersed in it for 48 hours straight is a complete riot.
About me: I don’t gamble. I hate buffets. I don’t do bottle service. I despise people who wear crowns because it’s their birthday. Clubs don’t really appeal to me. Neither do male strippers. Going four days with ten hours of sleep in me sounds horrific. And yet, I’ve taken part in all of these things at least once in Vegas, because why not? I’ll never want to do it any other place, so I may as well!
I’ve had a hard time focusing lately because next week I’ll be in Vegas for a little over 48 hours with my bestie, Rain. We’ve been talking about a Vegas trip for months and to think that it’s finally here is just amazing. Even thinking back to the night we stayed up and bought the plane tickets makes me smile! We’ve got two days to tear up Vegas, and you better believe we’re gonna look good while doing it.
(OHAI! We’ll be there from the morning of June 10th to the morning of June 12th–follow our adventures on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag: #TerrainTakesVegas)
Now, if you’re looking into a trip to Las Vegas, you’ve probably heard talk that it’s pretty darn cheap. Well, yes and no. Sin City certainly can be inexpensive, but if you’re not careful you’ll end up with a cleaned out bank account. As with any trip, you need to do some serious planning and budgeting. Since we are ladies with a careful eye on our cash flow, I thought I’d share some of the big things we kept in mind when creating our budget.
1. Be flexible.
This is one of the most common budget travel tips because it can, in fact, save you loads of cash. Obviously, mid-week excursions are going to be cheaper than weekend ones–both for your flight (or other transportation) and for your lodging. But also realize that if you have to fly a certain airline or have to stay at a particular hotel, well, you could be missing out on some deals.
Take some time to sort through your options–different dates, hotels, airlines, and also different websites to book through. I always check a combination of places for airfare, like Momondo, Expedia, and Southwest, and different hotel sites, including Travelocity and Hotels.com.
The winner for our trip? The Flamingo website itself! That’s right, we ended up purchasing a package deal complete with airfare, lodging, and transportation to and from McCarran, and it’s all for less than we would have paid anywhere else for just the flight and room. We plotted and planned for over a month, but our patience ended up making it all worth it!
2. Set a max.
Vegas is an adult playground, and it’s so easy to get swept up into it and lose sight of the reality you have to return to. You can find millions of ways to spend your money there, but don’t spend money you don’t have. Trust me, you’ll regret it.
So for gambling, food, drink, shopping, whatever–set a max and stick to it.
We’re only going to be there for two days, so we allotted ourselves “play money” and we’ll make sure to hold each other to it. We’re going to Vegas to have fun, not to go massively into debt–that’s what I went to college for *badum-tssssss*. But seriously: be honest with yourself and your travel partner(s) before you land in Sin City about what you can truly afford.
3. Decide on the must-sees and must-dos.
Once you have a good grasp on money matters, sit down and do some research. Vegas has a lot of awesome stuff to offer that is more than just alcoholic slushies and Wheel of Fortune slot machines. Do you know about The High Roller, a Ferris Wheel-like ride that gives you amazeballs city views? What about KISS Monster Mini Golf? Do you know where the famous Las Vegas sign is actually located?
We researched and created our itinerary based off of what we wanted to do and what was in our price range. First, we made a list of every single thing that interested us and how much each would cost. From there, we were able to trim the excess. We picked our must-sees and must-dos, we ditched the items that were less intriguing or just too expensive, and we adjusted accordingly.
4. Vegas looks small on a map, but it’s pretty damn big.
My first time in Vegas, I hadn’t even factored in how much cabs would cost me. After sightseeing all day, drinking into the night, and considering my options to get back to the hotel at 7am, hell no I wasn’t walking.
I love walking in new cities just as much as the next gal, but unless I’m strolling the Strip, Vegas is much better seen by cab or monorail. If you search for walking directions from the MGM Grand to the Wynn in Google Maps, you’ll find that the trip takes 40 minutes–and in 100 degree weather in June that is *ahem* less than ideal.
Taxis aren’t your only option–lots of hotels offer buses to other spots on the Strip, free or cheap shuttles to and from the airport (ours was only $13 round trip!), and the monorail is reliable and crazy cheap.
Can we omit taking a taxi completely? Definitely not! But armed with our itinerary, Rain and I were able to decide what activities we’d group together to minimize cab rides and save them dollah billz.
You’re in the middle of the desert, so you’ll want to slather on sunscreen every few hours, even if you’re not lounging by the pool (but especially if you are!). Of course, if you wait until you arrive at the airport to get some, you’ll be paying a painful amount for it, and the little shops in the hotels are even worse.
Plan ahead, stop by a Target before you leave, and get your SPF and other essentials. (p.s. I promise your mother didn’t make me say this.)
What other advice do you have for creating a travel budget, either in Vegas or anywhere else? Do you have favorite things to do in Sin City? If you’ve never been, what would be on your must-see list?
Oh! Remember to follow our babely adventures in Vegas on Twitter & Instagram! #TerrainTakesVegas