I decided to write my first travel post about Las Vegas because I’ve been there more times than I’ve been anywhere else. Although I’ve been five times, soon to be six, I’m not going to claim to be an expert on Vegas. In fact, there are many things I haven’t done yet, including: Downtown/Freemont Street, the Grand Canyon, and the Hoover Dam. I know, I know, that’s like a trifecta of Sin City sins. After that confession you’re probably questioning if I’m even qualified to write about Las Vegas at all! Still, I’ve accumulated a few opinions and tricks from my adventures on the Strip, so check them out:
5. Visit around the summer. Depending who you are, where you’re from,
what you did (as long as you love me) and how much you’ve ever learned about the desert, it may or may not be common knowledge to you that it’s actually not always hot. At night in January the temperature can drop to the 30’s, and even with a nice beer jacket on, who wants to go to a club in skimpy clothes in that weather? Plus, if laying by the pool or attending a pool party/dayclub is on your must-do list, a bunch of them shut down around October until things warm up again in the spring – if it’s super important to you, check out the ones you’re interested in for their closing dates prior to booking your trip.
My favorite time to visit Las Vegas is in September; the heat has come down a smidge from the summer 110+ degrees, but it’s still very hot in the day and night to enjoy the indoor and outdoor activities. One thing I will say is that visiting Las Vegas is cheaper during the winter months for the very same reasons I just described, so if your interests are more indoor activities like shows and game tables, a winter vacation might be better suited for you.
Before I move on to the next tip, another comment I’d like to make about the weather is that although it’s H-O-T at that time, it’s a dry heat that I love. Here in New England it’s often humid, which makes wearing makeup very difficult for me; with my skin type, it always oxidizes with the humidity and turns weird colors. However, I never have this problem in Las Vegas because the air is dry. Even after going out clubbing and sweating bullets, my makeup looks pretty good (and the correct color)! This probably isn’t a super important tidbit, but something I’ve noticed over the years.
Makeup aside, the heat is pretty bearable since walking around you pass in and out of the different hotels, which all have air conditioning. Just make sure you keep hydrated – with water, in between the fun stuff!
4. Location matters. I prefer to stay mid-Strip. I can’t tell you how it feels to leave XS at the Wynn, all the way at one end of the Strip, at 2 am after you’ve been drinking and dancing, in the rain, in heels, waiting for David Guetta to come on (which he didn’t until after we left) to find the taxi line wait is around 2 hours. We waited, and waited, but eventually our heels and the annoying people in front of us in line were too much, so with our bit of extra confidence, we thought, “Oh, our hotel didn’t seem that far, we can just walk.” WRONG (kind of) – like I said, it’s late and you’re tired, a little buzzed, and wearing 4-inch spikes you can barely balance in. Not the ideal conditions for a casual ~3 mile walk to Mandalay Bay on the other end of the Strip. (Yes, I did Google Maps the distance from the Wynn to Mandalay Bay. The walk would take you ~59 minutes in normal shoes conditions. I want to pass out just typing that.) However, if you stay in the middle of the Strip, at least you are halfway from either end, so that walk won’t be *quite* as long. (Check out tip #1 below for another late-night-post-club-walk-home related tip!) That little anecdote aside, mid-Strip hotels are also great during the day because you can explore in either direction and have a great midpoint to stop back and drop off your shopping finds, rest your feet, or take a very necessary nap.
One of my favorite places to stay is at the iconic Flamingo; I’ve stayed there the past two years. I know there are a lot of mixed reviews on it, and some parts are definitely outdated, but it’s pretty inexpensive and personally the pros outweigh the cons. The biggest pro for me is obviously the location. The rooms are sufficient if you’re not expecting luxury and don’t plan on being in there too much anyways. They also have a cute little food court containing a Johnny Rockets, which is basically the best late night food ever. I really enjoy their GO pool too, as it’s like a bit more relaxed party pool – there’s still drinking and music, but I don’t feel like I’m a squished sardine swimming in drunk people’s pee (probably am, though). They also have the Beach Club Pool but I’ve never checked that one out – but I definitely intend to when I stay there again for my trip this year!
If you’re not trying to reserve every penny for drinks and games, a few other hotels I might suggest are: Caesar’s Palace (never stayed there, but would like to), The Mirage (never stayed there, but would like to), and Bellagio (I have stayed there, and it’s my favorite hotel in Vegas – if only I could afford it every time I go).
3. Drinking “hacks”. Drinks in Las Vegas are going to be ridiculously expensive almost everywhere, so be prepared. However, there are definitely some ways you can save some money on drinks. You can buy alcohol virtually anywhere, so first thing is to locate the nearest Walgreens/CVS/liquor/variety store and then stock up on some of your favorite beverages so you can pregame in your hotel room (or walking down the street, nobody in Vegas is judging). While things might still be priced higher than you’re used to at home, the math for a whole bottle of liquor and a mixer that can be shared beats a few $18 vodka-crans at the club.
You can also get drinks served to you while gambling. I like to gamble but I’m cheap AF, so I only play the penny slots, but this tip still works. The first time I was old enough to drink/gamble in Las Vegas I was really nervous to try this, as casinos near home still charge for drinks while you’re gambling, but the rumors were true (at every Vegas casino I’ve tried it in, anyways). I still feel kind of guilty for some reason, so I always try to make my order fairly simple and tip the server well. Many people suggest tipping higher on the first drink so the waitress will keep coming back to you, and then $1-2 per drink after. I’m usually a bad example for tipping in general, though, because I tend to overtip since I work in a service industry.
A third idea for saving money on drinks is taking advantage of happy hours. Many restaurants, especially buffets, offer deals on drinks at all different hours of the day. Do your research and look at menus before your trip; if you plan to get breakfast somewhere serving unlimited screwdrivers, you’ll be all ready to head to a dayclub right after.
2. OD on Emergen-C. This tip is more travel-general than Vegas-specific, but it’s important. I always get sick when I travel. Airplanes are germ incubators; I’m pretty sure those little fans above you recirculate the air around the cabins, so if someone in seat 9A is coughing, it’s basically blowing in your face. (I make sure those are turned off in my whole row as often as possible when I travel.) I absolutely hate getting sick so I do everything I can to combat this, including packing enough Emergen-C packets to have at least one every day while I’m traveling. In addition to their germ-fighting vitamins, Emergen-C contains electrolytes, which is helpful for many reasons, but especially in Vegas in the morning if you had a few drinky-drinks the night before (and I like to think it’s a bit healthier for me than Gatorade). Of course, any brand of vitamin/immune system supplements works too, Emergen-C is just my favorite. I like the pineapple coconut flavor best.
1. Accessorize with purpose. That sounds stupid, so you’re probably wondering what I mean by this; this tip is very specific, but it is my number 1 tip for a reason!
You need to bring a crossbody bag. Nobody wants to have to keep pulling up the strap of a shoulder bag, clubs won’t let you in with a giant tote, and clutches are too easy to put down and misplace. Sling a crossbody over and you’re good to go; one with a zip top and/or flap are probably best so nobody can grab your stuff and things can’t fall out as easily.
But! Remember I said I had another late-night-post-club-walk-home tip? I’m going to add to the tip and highly recommend you bring a crossbody bag that is big enough to fit flip flops in! Sure, small clutches are cute and trendy right now, but a bit bigger bag containing flip flops can really help you out later. On that aforementioned night walking back from XS, I had not yet thought of this tip, and DANG does it hurt to walk the Strip in heels after dancing for hours. Last year I brought a crossbody with flip flops and swapped shoes for the walk back, and I seriously think it saved my life. No joke. Okay, maybe slight joke.
I suppose you could also just get foldable flats or foldable flip flops to fit in your smaller bags, but I’ve never seen those in stores and I tend to wait til the last second to pack, so I never remember/have time to order online. This tip is much easier for me because it uses two items I already have, plus I prefer flip flops over flats anyways.
Bonus Tip – Don’t drink the (tap) water. I don’t know if this is actually a thing, but I’m going to warn you anyways because I’ve had a couple of incidents… I recommend buying several bottles of water to keep in the hotel room while you’re at the store stocking up on your pregaming supplies; I also recommend asking for bottled water over tap when you’re out at restaurants, clubs, casinos, pools – everywhere. I know it’s more expensive, but on two separate trips two different friends and I have had horrible, debilitating stomach issues that we connected to the tap water. If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, drink the water at your own risk. (Note: I’m not suggesting to not drink water at all – please stay hydrated!)
I will say, the first time we had an issue we were staying at the Tropicana. We know it was the tap water because I stopped drinking it halfway through the trip and was fine for the remainder, while a friend kept drinking it for another couple days and continued to have an issue until she stopped too. I thought it might have just been that hotel, but the following year a different friend and I drank tap water at Mandalay Bay and had an even worse incident. Now, I did sort of accidentally drink the tap water last year at both Flamingo and Paris and was fine, so like I said: drink at your own risk. I wonder if certain parts of the Strip are on separate water mains. This theory would make sense based on my experiences because Tropicana and Mandalay Bay are very close to each other at one end of the Strip, and Flamingo and Paris are next to each other in the middle of the Strip. Theories aside, I try my hardest now to completely avoid the tap water because I am traumatized by the bad experiences. Please let me know if you have (or have not) had a reaction to the tap water in Las Vegas because I would love to know if it’s not just us.
I know this post totally makes me sound like a lush, but that’s pretty much the opposite of what I am on a daily basis. You just can’t write a post about Las Vegas and not mention alcohol one, two, or twenty times! This post isn’t everything I’ve ever learned, but my top tips. If you don’t like to drink, I’m still very confident that Vegas has something to entertain you. I’ve seen a handful of shows, stayed at several hotels, eaten at many restaurants, and blown money on many machines, plus I’m planning to do some of those big touristy things sometime soon – so keep an eye on this blog for another post detailing some other Las Vegas activities!
Did you find these tips helpful? I know some might be common by now – did I teach you anything new? Also, follow me on Twitter and Instagram if you want to keep up with my adventures!