Friday, May 4, 2012

Travel Tips-Las Vegas Edition

I was doing some pre-trip planning for an upcoming vacation to Las Vegas and Boulder City so I went over to and found some great tips for traveling to Las Vegas. 
Here are a few of my favorite tips from their site along with my own tried and true tips (some fun, some frugal) below:

Tips on Comfort:
What to wear: Yes, Las Vegas is in the desert. And, yes, the temperature gets to be about 115 degrees in the summer. But if you happen to be visiting in the winter (usually from Halloween to Valentine's Day), don't be fooled. A jacket is definitely recommended, especially if the wind is blowing. We know our blood is probably thin from living here, and we may not get blizzards, but consider this your warning -- it's a lot colder here than you'd think.
 Comfy shoes: There are certain places where fashion is more important than comfort -- Tao, Marquee or Haze. However, when you're slumming around during daylight hours, casino hopping or standing in line for a buffet, wear your Hush Puppies or Chuck Taylors. After all, you don't want your fashionable shoes to rub blisters when you're vamping it up at Marquee. For ladies partying all night at the clubs, we suggest gel insoles. From strappy stilletos to go-go boots, you can actually get away with looking cute and being comfy. Oh, and if you choose to ignore our words of wisdom, make sure you've packed your specially selected Band-Aids.
The water of life: Drinking lots of booze at night + walking around in 115 degree heat during the day = dehydration. Unless you're one of those travelers who enjoy visiting local hospitals and getting strapped to an IV, we recommend you drink lots of water. Avoid the tap water (it actually smells); buy one of those trendy bottled waters. The prices for the bottled stuff are quite high at the hotels, so stop by a local grocery store or convenience store and stock up.
Invest in your Vegas future: Player's clubs: Stand in line, get the form and sign up for the frequent gambler card at your favorite hotels. Use the card to accumulate points, since you'll probably be gambling anyway, and perhaps receive something free. It helps to be on the mailing list for a lot of hotels. Who knows, they might pick you for a special room rate or decide to send you tickets to a free show.(I know lots of not so high rollers that get their rooms comped on nearly every visit!)
Vegas IS Family Friendly:  In-house fun: Stayed up a little late last night? Don't want to venture too far from the hotel but need to find something to entertain the kids? Many of the larger hotels have arcades on property, ranging from two or three games to dozens. Best of all, they're guaranteed to keep the younger members of your family busy for hours, and you might even have some fun yourself. One thing to remember: Even though the arcades are for the kids, they still need adult supervision, and the hotels are sticklers about this rule. Click here to find out more about the arcades in Vegas. Also, click here for a more comprehensive list of family friendly activities in Vegas and the surrounding area.
Good Eats-buffet style: The Great Buffet Debate: Here in Vegas, we take our buffets very seriously. Everyone has a favorite. 'Course, some people aren't too concerned about the food as long as the price is dirt cheap. Others are extremely picky and believe that a higher price means better quality. Also, vegetarians can fill up their plates with the myriad meatless choices buffets have to offer. Find the buffet that fits your wallet and taste in our buffet guide.
Fremont Street is a Must See: Free shows: Las Vegas offers free drinks when you gamble, free lounge acts, free parking and a few free shows. Fremont Street is always bustling with activity, including free live concerts on the two main stages. Past entertainment has included everyone from Howard Jones and Survivor to Eddie Money and the Marshall Tucker Band.
Tipping is not just a city in China: Tips on tipping: Because Vegas is a service-based city, tipping is a big, big deal.  Click Here for a comprehensive list of tipping do's and don'ts.
Flying in? You NEED to know this!: Don't get long-hauled: After a couple of hours on the plane, you've arrived in Vegas ready to party. Don't make your trip to the hotel longer or more expensive. When you get in the taxi, tell the driver you want to be taken to your hotel via Swenson Avenue, NOT the airport tunnel. The airport tunnel may seem faster because it connects to the freeway and has fewer lights, but the route is several miles longer resulting in cab fares that are $5 to $10 more. This is called "long-hauling," and taxi drivers can be ticketed and fined if they are caught. Besides, if you hit the airport tunnel route during rush hour (8 a.m. - 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.), any time savings you gain using the freeway will disappear in the exhaust of the morning or evening commute. So say NO to the airport tunnel (the only tunnel in Vegas) and use the extra cash for an extra cocktail instead.

And now for my own personal "Been There Done That" tips:

Ride the Rail: the Monorail that is! It's a quick way to get from one end of the strip to the other and it stops at several major hotels along the way. It's $5 for one trip or $12 for an all day pass. Check the website before you go as the monorail hours of operation may vary by season.

Stop by Gold and Silver Pawn-where they film the History Channel's hit show Pawn Stars. You just might get a chance to meet one of the stars of the show while you're shopping for a new Velvet Elvis Painting for your love den.

Get your drink on: For a fun evening, I'm quite partial to Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill located in Harrah's on the strip. You can't go wrong with Fried Bologna Sandwiches and drinks served in mason jars. I'm fond of the Mason Dixon myself, but be warned ONE may be more than you can handle and you may accidentally "overserve" yourself! They have a live band every evening-and Toby Keith himself has been known to show up unannounced and sing a few of his hits with the band-it's true, I've been there when it happened! Check out the gift shop attached to the restaurant where you can pick up Toby Keith shot glasses, coffee mugs and t-shirts as well as Toby's signature BBQ sauce, seasoned salt and seasoned pepper to take back home with you. FRUGAL TIP: I was there at the end of May and noticed that the menu had special pricing for Harrah's Player's Club members-save $1-$2 on lunch and dinner entrees just by showing your player's card! Best of all- It's free to join!

You gotta know when to hold 'em: I'd love to give you some gambling advice, but since I don't gamble, other than the occasional penny slots, you're gonna have to look elsewhere for help with where not to lose all your hard earned cash. Just remember, the place is nicknamed "Lost Wages" for a reason! Bring only as much money as you can afford to leave behind.

Cheap Sleeps: Wanna save some cash on your accommodations? Check multiple sources for hotel rates-I use,, Expedia, Travel zoo as well as the hotel's websites. Check to see if they offer discounts for their player's club card holders as well as any AAA or AARP or Military discounts as most every hotel does. And a word about resort fees-Nearly every hotel on the strip charges them. You pay these fees above what the stated room price is so remember to figure that into your hotel budget. The Harrah's family of hotels does not charge resort fees which is why if I stay on the strip I stay in one of their 9 hotels. There are lots of off-strip hotels that are clean, safe and offer much lower rates than their bigger competition on the strip, don't overlook these hidden gems.

Bring a "sandwich" to check in and you might score an upgrade! It's been long known that you can slip the front desk folks a $20 (some folks use a $50 depending on how swanky the hotel is) between your photo Id and credit card (the sandwich) as you casually and very politely inquire about any available complimentary upgrades for your stay. Try to be specific, ie strip-view, higher floor, corner room, Jr. suite, etc. I've heard it helps too if you mention that you are in town celebrating an anniversary or birthday or something. Just sayin'.   Click Here for more info. The website has a list of how to's and success rates for many of the hotels on and off the strip. FYI, it doesn't work 100% of the time, but generally if the front desk clerk can't accommodate you they'll return the cash to you.

Visit Wally World: One of my best money saving tips is to head over to the Walmart on E. Tropicana and stock up on bottled water and snack food. Also, if we stay off strip we try to get a hotel room with a kitchenette and then we purchase breakfast foods as well. A few years ago I started carrying my own 4 cup coffee maker when I travel so I can make my own brand of coffee in the morning-I'm just TOO frugal to pay big bucks for little cups of coffee at Starbucks. I also have a travel bag that is loaded with paper plates, paper bowls, napkins, solo cups, paper coffee cups, plastic forks and spoons as well as salt, pepper and sugar packets and a container of coffee mate powder.

It's a Kodak Moment: You simply MUST stop at the fabulous Welcome to Las Vegas sign and take the kitschy tourist photos of yourself and your traveling companions! 

Party Like Royalty: For those of you with bigger budgets, who want to party like Prince Harry on his last infamous visit to Sin City, then you need to check out The MGM Grand and The Wynn when you're in town. 


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  2. Harrahs does now charge resort fees