Figuring out your travel budget for hotel, flight, etc. is pretty black and white. But planning your spending money can be much more challenging. Dinner in Vegas can cost you anywhere from $10 – 400 a person. Believe me, I wish I were exaggerating. So here are my best tips, based on many trips to Sin City (I think seven or eight).
LPO Beauty Guide to Vegas
Part 2 – Food and Drink
1. Don’t blow it on breakfast. We always take protein bars, breakfast bars, etc. with us. Then when we get there, we’ll pop into a store and get some fresh fruit, soda, water, etc. Just be sure to base your purchases on whether your room has a fridge — many of them don’t. Disposable coolers are pretty cheap, or if you’re a McGuyver like my S.O. you can convert a trash can (yes I just admitted that publicly.)
2. And that photo brings me to the drinkers. Open container laws people. Why pay $5 inside a casino when you can buy two or three beers in a corner store and walk up and down the strip with them? Walking around with a drink in your hand? Totally legal. Taking drinks from casino to casino? The norm.
3. Gamble for drinks. Sounds naughty huh? Not really. You get free drinks if you’re gambling. I would suggest video poker or the craps machine if you don’t want to lose a lot. Most penny slots you can play for a long time. But stay away for the big flashy machines with four games at a time (like The Hangover and Sex and the City) – you’ll lose a 20 in a heartbeat. It’s easier to get drinks more frequently in the smaller casinos because in the huge casinos, the servers really have a lot of ground to cover. If you’re super impatient, you can just play the video poker machines right at the bar. And for God sakes, tip the server. Just because the drinks are free does not mean he or she isn’t working their butt off (PS I have served drinks in a casino ha ha).
4. Go Old School. Some of the off strip casinos have great deals and really good food, like Ellis Island and Terrible’s (which has recently been renamed Silver Sevens). You can get an amazing hearty meal for $10 or less, and they have great morning and graveyard specials too (for after the bar, maybe?) The reason I say old school is there are little cafes inside smaller casinos that remind me much of mom and pop restaurants in smaller towns or the restaurants I’ve been to in the older casinos in Reno (my grandma lives there).
5. Keep your eyes open. The way we found out about Ellis is we saw a sign for $2 microbrews. They make their own beer – two bucks for a HUGE (I think 23 oz.) glass of GOOD microbrew. Can’t go wrong with that. We’ve found lots of awesome deals that way – $1 Michelob and Michelob Lights at the Casino Royale, $5 afternoon meals at Monte Carlo’s cafe, 2/$1 waters at gift shops on the strip, $5 quesadillas at The Quad (Imperial Palace back then) and 2/$5 16 oz. beers in gift shops downtown.
6. Save the moola for dinner. There are tons of food courts on the strip – there’s one by M & M World, one across from Circus Circus, one at the Flamingo, etc. I hate going on vacation and eating the same stuff we have at home, so we’ll go for places we don’t have in Nebraska, like Del Taco, then spend the majority of our money on dinner.
7. Become a “local.” We have found AWESOME deals this way. If you go on the daily deal sites like Groupon or Living Social, change your location to Las Vegas. If you are staying on the Strip and not renting a car (I’ll cover transportation in Part 3 of this series), just pick deals that indicate “Strip”. Some of our best deals we’ve found on TravelZoo. Go to “Local Deals” and click on Las Vegas. We ate at the Palms Buffet for $30 total with unlimited beer and wine! There are also lots of deals on these sites for activities, shows, etc. We’re going go carting next time! BUT remember to check the expiration date of the deal. These vary greatly and you want to make sure it’s still available during your trip.
Which reminds me, if you download the Groupon app to your phone and set the city to Las Vegas, there are deals that are good for that day only. So you can buy it that day and use it that day – sweet!
We’re going back to Vegas this Thanksgiving, so if we see more deals, I’ll be sharing them on the LPO Beauty Facebook page.