I never really believed it was possible to plan a trip to Vegas on a budget until I went there for myself last year and couldn’t believe how many budget options there are for travellers. I had always heard of people spending thousands of dollars in Vegas on gambling, fancy hotels and famous night clubs – but it turns out if you do a little research, and go to the right places at the right time, you can have a wild time in Vegas on a tiny, shoestring budget!
Here’s how I planned my budget trip to Las Vegas and how you can too…
Vegas On A Budget 2019: How To Make It Work
If you want to plan a budget trip to Las Vegas, be it a long weekend or midweek break, then the first thing you need to do is figure out exactly what your budget is! This will help decide how you’ll get there, where you will stay and what activities you can afford once there. I was suggesting two my friend that we stay in a hostel but we ended up finding some pretty insane deals online for fancy hotels right at the end of The Strip, and even the day trips to places like The Grand Canyon and the Valley of Fire weren’t costing an arm and a leg.
First off we found some cheap flights by remaining flexible with what dates and times we would fly – such as arriving in Vegas late on a Friday evening when most people would probably wish to be there Friday morning to enjoy a full wild weekend.
Once you arrive in the airport you can get a taxi to your hotel for about $20 – but it might be worth checking if your hotel has a cheap or free shuttle service.
We also shopped around for cheap car hire – and found a place a little outside the city that was much cheaper and would allow us to drive to some National Parks on our own terms, saving money on the organised tours offered.
Planning your trip to Vegas: When To Go
Another important element in planning your trip to Vegas on a budget would be to choose wisely when you go. There are lots of really popular events here throughout the year, such as big UFC fights, concerts and festivals which will push the price of accommodation up and make it more difficult to find clubs offering free entrance etc.
Las Vegas is also right in the middle of the desert and can be painfully hot in summer, so it’s best to visit before the summer kicks in, ideally when it’s a little colder and ore bearable. I would think March to May (I visited in May) would be a good time or else sometime after September.
Avoid New Years Eve, as it’s one of the most popular times to visit Las Vegas and check the tourism board site to see when the big conferences take place – and be sure to avoid these dates like the plague! if you DO decide to visit in the holiday season, you’ll need to book your hotel AT LEAST one month in advance.
Las Vegas on a budget: cheap accommodation
This was definitely my biggest worry when travelling to Las Vegas with my friend Allison. I honestly thought we would end up in some shitty hostel as we wouldn’t be able to afford the crazy fancy hotels I always read about online / in magazines. Turns out, weirdly, that because there are SO MANY hotels in Vegas with hundreds if not thousands of rooms in each, competition is fierce and this can really keep prices down.
I think hotels lure you in with great deals, and the screw you over by charging about $8 for a tiny bottle of water and crazy prices for food and beverages within the hotel itself. With crazy price tags like $1,000 for a bottle of vodka or $5,000 for champagne – you probably won’t be getting drunk in many of these hotel pools and clubs – but don’t worry, I’ve a solution to that too! ;-)
Also worth noting about the mini bars in Vegas hotel rooms: you are not even allowed to touch the bottles of water and packets of Pringles in the room – if you lift them off their stand for more than 10 seconds, a laser registers that’s it’s been “used” and you’re automatically charged! Welcome to Vegas!
One thing to keep in mind when budgeting for your accommodation is that almost all big hotels add on a “resort fee” once you check in. This fee is NOT included when you search online hotel booking sites so it came as quite the surprise to us. So even when you book and pay online, you’ll be handed a bill for about $25 upon checking in which you have to pay upfront.
Sometimes you can get very lucky and get upgraded upon check in. This happened to us and our room was simple outrageous with views out onto the Las Vegas strip.
Tipping hotel staff in Vegas can go a long way if you’re looking for that upgrade…or looking for some such sought after free vouchers to get into bars, clubs etc.
After a quick search online, we found hotel right in the centre of Vegas starting from $20 a night. We even found pretty famous, big name hotels at the end of the main strip for about $40 or $50 a night. It’s actually CRAZY how cheap these massive hotels can sell their rooms for. If you’re willing to travel midweek, you’ll find the cheapest deals ever.
You can stay in a Planet Hollywood or a hotel with an Egyptian Theme for less than 100 bucks a night!
Las Vegas on a budget: food
The price of food in Vegas was also surprising – as in you can find some amazing deals if you’re willing to search a little. Obviously if you eat at any of the fancy restaurants along the strip, or order room service in your hotel – you can expect to pay $$$.
However we found some pretty cool spots in the downtown Las Vegas (this is not the strip, but where locals hang out and has a more local vibe) and even found an all you can eat Korean BBQ place for $20 per person. You can find quite a few reasonably priced restaurants in this area and also be on the look out for food trucks which can cheap but delicious food on the go.
Check out which places offer “Happy Hour”, usually before 7pm, as they often offer large discounts on meals at this time too. You can also check sites like Groupon for cheap meal deals.
Buffet culture is pretty big in Vegas and you can get some pretty good deals and amazing buffets at some of the big hotels. Go for brunch or lunch as they charge more at night-time for the sae food, just because it’s later in the day. For example, the buffet at The Aria is just $30 per person at breakfast and lunch I think about $40 for dinner.
You can also opt for the super fancy buffet at the famous Bellagio Hotel, where you can get an all you can eat lunch for about $27.99.
Check your hotel website, before booking, for special discounts and vouchers offered for booking direct. They’ll often give you free passes to shows, discount cards or a free buffet if you book your stay direct with them.
Fun day trips from Vegas
It might sound a little mad, but my friend Allison and I spent most of our time in Las Vegas actually adventuring OUTSIDE of the city. I never knew there were so many cool day trips from Vegas to stunning National Parks, State Parks and even famous sites such as The Grand Canyon.
I’ll have to put a little disclaimer here because we did one thing that would cost DEFINITELY not be considered budget friendly. We signed up for a helicopter tour from Vegas to The Grand Canyon and I have zero regrets about that.
One of the coolest experiences of my life, made all the better when we landed in The Valley of Fire for sunset champagne and arrived back in Law Vegas after dark, just as the city lights came on. Pure magic and memories to last A LIFETIME!
Helicopter trip aside, we also drove to The Grand Canyon one day and spent another day in The Valley of Fire on a Pink Jeep Tour. If you can find a cheap car rental, driving to the state and national parks is a super fun and cheap way to explore the area.
The Valley of Fire was just spectacular and I’m already planning a trip back there to explore more. I know many people go to Vegas to go shopping and partying and gambling, but I highly recommend you take a day or two to explore the spectacular parks nearby.
Things To Do in Vegas For Free
There are surprisingly quite a few fun things to do in Las Vegas for free, so if you’re really on a tight budget but want to see as much of Sin City as possible, here’s a few fun things to do.
- Get a photo with the famous Las Vegas sign.
- If you’re female, get free entry AND two free drinks at The Bank nightclub at The Bellagio.
- Walk up and down the famous Las Vegas Strip people watching and enjoying the atmosphere.
- Enjoy FREE drinks when you play the slot machines or join a game of Bingo.
- Free entertainment the first Friday of every month at the First Friday Art District.
- Watch the light show at the famous Bellagio fountains.
- Watch a free show at Circus Circus.
- Visit the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden.
Of course, there’s so much more to Vegas than all of this. There’s big shows and party nights. All night gambling, limo rides, pool parties and one hell off a good time to be had. How you experience Las Vegas, what you do, where you stay and what you eat will all depend on the budget you give yourself and how much you’re willing to spend.
But I hope the above post shows that it is totally possible to travel to Las Vegas on a budget and have one hell of a time while there!