Cheap Vegas Vacation: A Guide for First Timers

 (Pic of the Vegas Strip)
I'm back!! :D I originally wanted to do this post on Saturday, but I was completely jet lagged and exhausted, so sorry for the delay.

Okay, let's dive right on in!!

One thing I wasn't expecting, was that I actually loved Old Vegas (Fremont St, a mile or so away from the strip) way more than the Vegas Strip!!! The differences between the the Vegas Strip & Fremont St in Old Vegas, are night and day.

Old Vegas VS New Vegas:
If you don't mind crowds of people that walk into you constantly, slots that seemingly never pay out, loads of tourists, and walking a mile from 1 hotel to the next, then you might like the Vegas strip. If you're more of a laid back, chill person who likes their slot machines loose and blackjack tables to offer $3 or $5/hand with fairly quick (and free) alcoholic drinks being offered to you as you gamble, then Old Vegas/Fremont St. is for you.
(Pic of Freemont St in Old Vegas)
We stayed at The Golden Nugget on Freemont St and loved it! It was right in the heart of everything on Fremont St. We walked out of the hotel and boom..everything was there. Right across the street is Binions, a Casino & Hotel. It was small and had a good vibe to it. We played blackjack there for $3/hand or $5/hand, played slots, took a pic with $1 million dollars (which they give to you free), ate a buy 1/get 1 free burger and fries meal, and they also had poker tournaments there (we didn't play, but I plan on it next year when we go back). This was our go-to spot on Fremont St.

Every night, there was live entertainment on different stages on the street, and every hour they had a light show which was amazing to see! I recorded 2 of the light shows, one is "Monster Mash" and the other one is a tribute to the band "Heart".

"Heart Tribute"

"Monster Mash"
It's hard to capture the true vibe of Fremont St, but it's just...magical. It's like your own little world and down to earth party zone.

The Spirit of Fremont St:

We went to the Vegas Strip twice. We tried to see as many casinos as possible, but my feet were so sore and tired from walking, that I was a bit irritated and just wanted to get back to Old Vegas as soon as we could.

My Favorite Memory of the Strip:
We were in a casino (I forget which one, there's so many of them there) and it was daylight outside when we walked in, but when we walked out, it was nighttime and all the signs were lit up. It was breath taking!!!

Most Surprising Thing About the Vegas Strip:
It's nothing like you see in movies, TV shows, or pictures. Yea, those shots of people riding in a limo with their head out the window as they look at the lit up casino signs?...doesn't happen. It can't! Traffic is too backed up and such a clusterf**k, they would have to shut down part of the strip just to get that shot. Plus, there was a lot of construction at various hotels, which was disruptive to the views at times. The most eye appealing hotel & casino for me was New York, New York. Amazing!

There's 1 bus, called the "Deuce" (double decker bus) that runs from Fremont St the whole way up & down to the last casino on the strip, and back. This is the only form of transportation you will need down there. It's $8 for a 24 hour pass and so worth it! (You can also buy a 3 day pass for $20, which saves you some money.) The buses came pretty quickly. I'd say 90% of the time, we only waited 1 minute before the bus came. Another time, we waited about 5 mins. They run all the time. You can buy your ticket either from the bus driver, or more conveniently, from one of the many TVM's (Ticket Vending Machines).

Airport to Hotel Transportation:
We used a shuttle for $9/each way, per person. This is, by far, the cheapest option and it wasn't bad at all! It took us about 20 minutes to get to our hotel from the airport. When you pick up your bags in baggage claim at the Vegas Airport, there are ticket counters you can go up to if you wanna purchase a shuttle ticket. (If you don't see any, just ask anyone that works there.) On the day of your flight back home, make sure to call the shuttle service at least 2 hrs prior to your pick up time. (Eg: call at 10am if you want to be picked up at 12pm).

Hidden Costs:
Most, if not all hotels, will try to nickel & dime you to death. Well, that's pretty much the moto of Vegas, too. ;) If you want to use wifi, you have to pay $13/per day. (We had 4G service & never had to use it.) If you want that bottle of Fiji Water in your hotel room, that'll be $7. But our biggest shocker came from the baggage fees of Frontier Airlines (which I will never use again, but it's for a different reason other than the hidden baggage fees). We had to pay $170 more for our carry-on luggage. Yes, carry on luggage. (I'm surprised they didn't try to charge me for having my purse on the plane. Geez.)  So when you're looking on Travelocity for a cheap Vegas package, call that airline directly and ask them what their luggage fees are for both check-in bags and carry-on bags as well. Don't get fooled like we did. Luckily, this was our only costly "mistake" we made the entire trip.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!:
We didn't have any coupons prior to going to Vegas, but that's okay because they are all over the place down there! We had 3 buy 1, get 1 free meal coupons, drinks are free (as long as you're playing slots or a table game), and if you want to walk around the strip or Fremont St drinking, just stop into a liquor store and buy a huge can of beer for $4.

We ate at the Buffet in the Golden Nugget for breakfast & dinner and it was great food at a great price!

(Pic of the Golden Nugget Buffet)

I think breakfast was $10/each and dinner was $15/each during the week. That's the other thing, go to Vegas during the week because (1) everything goes up in price starting on Fridays and (2) the crowds get horrible for the weekend travelers coming into town.

Each time you go into a casino, sign up for their casino card. You will get a ton of free coupons doing this, plus comps in the future for gambling at their hotel. (We never racked up enough points in any casino to get comps this trip.) We got free slot play and free meals by doing this. Definitely worth your time.

Tix 4 Tonight:
These booths are everywhere! You can't miss them. And they will save you money on shows & dinners, usually good for 2 days. We bought tickets for the Mob Attraction (not the Mob Museum, which is in Old Vegas...the Mob Attraction is on the strip) and we bought tickets for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, too. All at discounted prices. Both attractions were really good! Here's a video I took at the Wax Museum:

Walking Shoes:
I really can't stress this enough, BRING A GOOD PAIR OF WALKING SHOES!!!! This was my biggest mistake of the whole trip. I thought my Converse shoes would be good enough, and nope..I was so wrong. I literally had bruises on the soles of my feet from walking around so much in a pair of shoes that weren't made for walking that much. Next time, I will buy a good pair of walking shoes and break them in a month in advance. 

Vegas On a Budget:
We went to Vegas on a budget of $100/day ($300 total for the 3 days were were there) and we were successful at it! We were able to eat, drink, and gamble for hours on $100 or less every day. (One day, I only spent $60 thanks to getting lucky on slot machines & playing blackjack). You just have to know when to walk away from the slot machines or table games. So if you're on a budget, you can still have a blast for cheap!!

What Everyone Will Tell You:
When you tell people "I'm going to Vegas!", they will tell you 'do this' and 'do that', and it's overwhelming. And it's not because they're wrong, it's because they're right! There is so much to do & see in Vegas, and it would take a lifetime to do it all. So go at your own pace, do the things you want to do/see. Miss something this trip? Just see it the next time you go! (And trust me, you'll want to go back. ;) )

In Conclusion:
This was our first time in Vegas and we barely knew anything before going, but still figured out things along the way pretty easily. So don't be afraid to go, not knowing what to do. You'll catch on & fairly quickly! We didn't win big, but we also didn't lose big. (I think I lost $30 the whole trip to gambling, I won on slots most of the time and a few times at blackjack.)

What I Would Do Differently:
I can't believe I didn't do this in the first place. If you're signed up on and plan on using Travelocity (like I did) to book your trip (search in Vacation Packages), you get 2.50% cash back on Vacation Packages. I could have had $19.50 cash back (via a check in the mail) if I would have done that. Hey, $19 bucks is $19 bucks!

Total Budget Cost Breakdown:
Hotel, Airfare, Taxes: $390/each
Baggage Fees: $85/each
Food/Gambling/Drinks: $100/day budget x 3 days
Transportation Fees (Shuttle & Bus): $32

Total: $807/each for Tues-Fri Stay (3 nights/4 days)

If you've been to Vegas and you have some tips for anyone going, leave them in the comment section below! I'd love to hear them! :D


karin said...

I am happy that yall had a blast in Vegas. Did you see any impressionist on the strip? When we were there they had a tribute to Kiss & The Doors, on Fremont street. Did you see the Gypsy? We will be going back in Jan, I didn't get to see everything- so much to take in at one time visit, starting with Las Vegas airport. Great advice on your trip, will look for some deals before we go! Thanks again.

Jamie said...

I didn't see the gypsy! Where was she again? I totally forgot! They dud have a tribute to kiss on Freemont St, we caught the end of it one night.

Have a blast in January!!

KSBerserk said...

OG Strip Club, No mention or no fun?

Jamie said...

oh, i forgot to post that we never went. we passed by it during the day a few times (its on the strip, at the very begining on the left, by Stratosphere Hotel). There was so much to do and see in the 3 days we were there, we decided to not go there this trip but maybe in a future trip. :)

Janet Baker said...

What about the $20 trick work or not, LOL?

Jamie said...

The $20 trick did not work :( the lady at the front desk claimed that a lot of hotels recently updated their policy & don't allow that anymore. Whether that's true or not, I'm not sure.

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