A Budget Travel Guide to Las Vegas
While Las Vegas might seem like the type of place reserved for the big spenders and the big ballers with cash to flash, it needn’t be a pipe dream holiday just because you have a slightly stricter budget. There are plenty of ways to save money whilst still having the full experience.
As with most places, when it comes to traveling on a budget, it’s all about being in the know. That’s why we’ve put together this budget travel guide to Las Vegas to help you get around and have a great time, without having to rack up huge bills behind you everywhere you go.
So yes, you can have a small budget and still go big in Vegas. Keep reading to find out how.
Tips for Saving Money in Las Vegas
Here are some of the best tips for how to save money when you’re staying in Las Vegas.
Book Your Trip Ahead of Time
Booking your trip in advance will help you save money as you’ll be able to shop around for the best deals, and you won’t be hustled into paying extra for flights or hotel rooms due to it being the last option available. However, it does mean you’ll be locked into these flight times.
Another good way to look for cheaper flights is by choosing ones that fly in the early hours of the morning or late at night, as the unsociable hours mean the prices are reduced.
Pick the Right Season to Travel
Picking the cheapest times to go to Las Vegas can be another good way to make sure you’re not paying the highest prices as these tend to increase during certain seasons.
Avoid traveling around holidays as a general rule as these are always busier or more expensive (although traveling on a holiday is comparably much cheaper), and aim for months like July, August, and mid-December instead as these are during the slow season.
Avoid Going to Las Vegas at the Weekends
Unsurprisingly, weekends are one of the most expensive times to travel to Las Vegas with costs essentially doubling compared to what you would be charged for a weekday visit.
According to James Filsinger, who is the president and chief executive of Yapta, a website specifically designed to compare the prices of various hotels and airfare, “instead of flying with the masses on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and you’ll find that prices are lower”.
However, be sure to check out the convention calendars, as some events may happen during the week that can make hotel rates a lot more expensive. For example, when CES events and other big trade shows are in town midweek you tend to see an increase in prices.
Find Cheap Hotels to Stay At
The best way to find cheap hotels is through thorough research and comparing the different prices for different hotels. Some of the most affordable hotels on the strip include the following, which are often available for prices less than $70.00 per night:
It’s often cheaper to book with the hotel directly than it is through third-party booking sites as you’ll be paying additional fees on top of the hotel rates. Off-strip hotels are also much cheaper, although you will need to factor in any additional travel costs to and from the strip.
Additionally, it’s worth checking to see if your hotel will price-match their rates if you end up finding a better deal elsewhere, or if they offer discounts for nearby restaurants and shops.
Join the Player’s Clubs
If you tell anyone you’re planning on taking a trip to Vegas, most of them will reply by advising you to sign up to the player’s club in every casino you visit, but how will this save you money?
By joining one or more of the player’s clubs, you can accumulate points when you gamble to receive great deals, free show tickets, meals, or rooms from the casinos. Different establishments will offer their own rewards or offers and member’s only exclusive events.
Player’s clubs are also free to sign up to which means there’s no downside to joining as many as possible before you start playing in the casinos.
Be Smart When You Gamble
When you’re in Vegas, there’s nothing more dangerous than a credit card with no upper spending limit or a debit card that gives you access to more money than you budgeted for.
Enjoying your time in Vegas on a budget requires you to be smart with your gambling. This means pacing yourself and making sure you don’t blow the budget by betting it all on red.
Only take out as much cash as you think you’ll need for the day and leave the rest locked away in the safe that will be provided in your hotel room to help you stick to your budget.
Don’t Pay For Taxis Using Your Card
If you do end up taking a taxi, don’t pay with your card. Many taxis will charge you a $3.00 service charge when you pay with a credit card, so avoid this charge by paying for your trips in cash. It might not sound like much, but $3.00 here and there soon starts to add up.
Besides, any card that gets left behind in a taxi is likely lost forever. Not only is this bad news for your budget, but if someone else comes along and picks it up they could end up using up the last of your budget before you even get a chance!
Avoid Using Casino ATMs
Most casino ATMs will charge a pretty high fee for withdrawing cash, but there are plenty of ways you can get cash out for free in Vegas, including the following.
Recent technology has made it even easier to accidentally overspend and exceed your budget as there are now tabletop ATMs that are able to pay out, between hands, in casino chips rather than actual cash. Unlike regular ATM limits of up to $500, these PlayOn ATMs allow you to withdraw much higher sums of money like $3,000 to $5,000 a day.
Hot Tip: There is a BOA ATM inside the M&M's store on the Las Vegas Strip, or in many of the local convenience stores such as Target, CVS, and Walgreens which have cheaper fees.
Refill Your Water Bottles Instead of Buying New Ones
The weather in Las Vegas is known for being hot and humid, so it’s important to make sure you’re drinking lots throughout the day so that you don’t end up becoming dehydrated.
With over 300 days of sunshine every year, hydration is key when it comes to this holiday destination. Alcohol is expensive (and it’s also not that hydrating) and the costs can quickly start to add up if you’re having to repeatedly buy soft drinks and bottled water during the day.
Instead, why not pack or purchase a refillable water bottle which you can fill up throughout the day? Not every place will be willing to do this, but most Starbucks’ will happily send you out on your way with a full bottle of water. Hotel fitness centers will also have filtered water.
If you’re willing to search for them, you might also be able to find a few of the casino’s water fountains that are dotted in between the tables. Another incentive to drink from your refillable bottle instead of buying a new single-use bottle for every drink is that it is more eco-friendly.
Fill Up At the Buffet
While there are certainly some gorgeous restaurants in Las Vegas that would keep any foodie in the family happy, a lot of the time, people come to Vegas for the gambling scene.
If that sounds more like you, a great way to save money is to eat your fill at a buffet rather than forking out for fancy meals every night. Breakfast buffets are ideal as you can fill up in the morning which will mean you’re less likely to eat out on expensive food during the day.
Some of the best buffets in Vegas will offer a taste of cuisines from all over the world and some may even include alcoholic beverages with your unlimited meal.
Drink At the Casino Before Heading To the Club
It’s easy to spend money at the casinos in Vegas, but one thing you won’t be paying for is your drinks, as most gambling establishments offer free alcoholic beverages to patrons.
You will need to be a paying customer to benefit from this and in some places, you’ll need to be spending over a certain amount before you’ll attract the attention of the staff, but getting the drinks in while they're free means you won’t use up your budget on drinks at the club.
How To Get Around Las Vegas on a Budget
Getting around Las Vegas on a budget means staying away from the taxis that swarm the strip, as many will overcharge tourists by taking you on a longer route to rack up the meter.
To avoid being swindled, here are a few cheaper, alternative ways to get around in Vegas.
Use the Monorail
You can get around a lot of Las Vegas just using the tunnels and walkways, but another option is to use the monorail which stops at seven different points on the Vegas strip and costs just $5.00 for a single ride.
Rail passes are also a good idea if you think you’ll be traveling around a lot but you don’t want to lock yourself in with tickets for specific days or times, and they’ll often be much cheaper ($12.00 a day) than the cost of booking individual trips as well as being more flexible.
Taxis can be quite expensive in Las Vegas. A good cheaper alternative is to use ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber which costs a lot less but saves you from taking the bus or walking.
Plus, according to TripSavvy, the majority of hotels will have dedicated rideshare lanes so you won’t have to wander too far from where you’re staying just so you can catch a ride.
Consider Car Rentals
If you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling to various different places during your stay in Vegas, you might want to consider renting a car to help you get around, although you’ll need to be over 21 years old and have a full driver’s license in order to rent a car in your name.
With a bit of savvy internet sleuthing you can find car rental deals that cost as little as $35.00 a day for a multi-day rental period, or perhaps for even less if you’re staying for longer.
Cheap Things To Do in Las Vegas
When you’re not gambling in the casinos, what else is there to do in Las Vegas when you’re on a tighter budget? Not everywhere in Vegas charges an admission fee, so check out some of the free activities and things to do from the list we’ve put together for this next section.
Visit the High Roller
The Las Vegas skyline wouldn’t be the same without the soaring 550 foot High Roller Observation Wheel that stands out amongst the towering buildings at the eastern end of the Las Vegas Strip, so it’s definitely a sight worth seeing if you’re already in the area.
You can do more than just see it from the ground - from a starting price of just $8.50 for kids and $23.50 for adults during the day, tickets are available for a trip on the wheel where you’ll get to witness 360-degree views for approximately 30 minutes in one of the 28 comfy cabins.
There are also deals and discounts that apply to locals, students, seniors, or service members, and certain times such as happy half-an-hour which includes a bar and a bartender in the cabin you choose to take your trip around the wheel in.
Visit the Eiffel Tower
Now, don’t let us confuse you. You won’t be able to see the infamous Parisian Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas. Obviously. But you can go to see the half-scale Eiffel Tower replica at the Paris Hotel and Casino as it puts on an intricate and beautiful light display every half an hour.
See all the way out to the mountains with a fantastic panoramic view of the city and the surrounding valley from the 460-foot viewing area that is 50 stories high.
Good news if you’re a student or a local resident as you’ll get 50% off your standard ticket price upon proof of a valid Nevada ID or US student ID card. You can also receive $5.00 off any ticket with your US military ID or if you are a visitor who is over the age of 60.
Check Out the Strat Tower
The Strat is the tallest, free-standing observation tower in America and it boasts some of the best views that Vegas has to offer. There are even rides at the top of the tower that are only $5.00 each a ride, although sky jumps and bungy jumping are a lot pricier starting at $139.00.
A standard adult ticket starts at $25.00 with concessionary prices for residents of Nevada, members of the military, senior citizens, students, and children. If you’re a guest at the Strat Casino, you can get your entry ticket for just $10.00.
It’s open to the public from 10:00 to 01:00 from Sunday to Thursday, and from 10:00 to 02:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, although the opening hours for the complex restaurants and stores may vary. You can also take the monorail as it’s a 2-block walk from the Sahara station.
Shark Reef Inside Mandalay Bay
You can get up close and personal with some of the world’s most fascinating predators at the Shark Reef aquarium and exhibit at Mandalay Bay. They host over 2,000 animals, including sharks, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, and a komodo dragon.
It’s cheaper to opt for a timed entry ticket which is priced at $29.00 for adults, $27.00 for seniors (65+), $24.00 for children aged 5 to 12, and free for children under the age of 4.
Anytime pricing starts from July 1st and is a more flexible option as it permits you entry up until 17:00 when the doors are closed to visitors, but adult tickets are priced at $36.00.
Go To the Las Vegas Comedy Club
If you’re looking for as many laughs as well as big wins at the casinos, check out the Las Vegas Comedy Club for something that might tickle your fancy without costing you an arm and a leg.
It’s only $34 to see a live comedy show in Planet Hollywood where some of the best comedians have performed in a more intimate theatre setting so the jokes don’t get lost in the crowds. Edwin San Juan is their current full-time headliner and is hilarious - his observational comedy and crowd-pleasing antics make for an unforgettable show.
Visit the Springs Preserve
One of the hidden gems of Las Vegas is the Springs Preserve which is another great activity to choose if you’re looking to get away from the big city for a bit.
It’s just $18.95 for an adult ticket and kids can go for $10.95 and you’ll have the whole day to explore the beautiful botanical gardens. You can wander around the outdoor spaces amongst the flowers and nature or take in some of the history in one of the onsite museums.
There’s a butterfly habitat that hosts some of the most beautiful species and you’ll also find a play area for the kids to enjoy while you take a break from walking around.
If You Have Kids, Go To ‘Dig This’
A lot of people think that it’s trickier to go to Vegas when you have kids traveling with you, but there are plenty of cheap and affordable ways to keep them entertained during the day so that they’ll sleep well enough at night for you to head down to the casino.
If you really want to make sure they’re tuckered out, you should definitely consider taking them to ‘Dig This’ which is an adult-sized sandbox that allows your little ones to experience the excavators, bulldozers, and dirt to play in.
Children aged five and older are allowed to get behind the wheel on their own whilst kids aged three to four will need an adult to give them the hand. It costs $20.00 for 15 minutes in the sandbox, which seems a little stingy, but we guarantee that your kid will have so much fun that it will feel like a lifetime there.
Visit the Neon Museum
For those who love exploring the culture through visiting museums and galleries while they’re away, you’ll love the Neon Museum which costs just $17.00 for a daytime tour for adults.
This collection of over 120 of Las Vegas’s most iconic neon signs has been restored and displayed for travelers to learn about. There are also concessionary prices available with local, military, student, and senior discounts which would make the tickets cheaper again.
Have Some Fun At the VR Experience At Pole Position Raceway
The next recommendation we have for you is the VR experience offered at Pole Position Raceway. Ever thought about how you would survive in the face of an apocalyptic hoard of zombies? Well, with this activity, you can be sure to find out.
The experience involves a new high-tech OmniArena in which you’ll find yourself immersed in several different virtual battles against the undead, robots, soldiers, or pirates, depending on the preferences of the players. Tickets for this start at just $15.00.
Have a Hiking Day At the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
The bright lights of the big city are incredible, but the novelty can wear off pretty quickly if you’re not used to such hustle and bustle back home. A great (and cheap) way to take a breather from the business of the main strip is to plan a hiking day at the Red Rock Canyon.
There are some great trails such as the popular Calico Tanks trail where you can get to see stunning views of Las Vegas from the top of the summit. It’s cheaper to walk as you’ll only need to pay the $5.00 entrance fee, whereas entering with a vehicle will cost $15.00.
You could also look at hiking some of the other popular trails such as the Ice Box Trail (2.6 miles), the White Rock Willow Spring Loop (4.4 miles), or the Keystone Thrust (2.2 miles).
Have a Bowling Night At Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
Forget about everything you think you know about bowling alleys, as the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas exceeds all expectations. There isn’t a whiff of sweaty socks or stale shoes in the air in this cool, retro place filled with chesterfield couches and cocktail waitresses.
Think bowling alley plus concert venue plus a restaurant combined into one swanky spot. There are 32 Brunswick state-of-the-art lanes with huge high-definition projection screens and table service is available at the lanes and bowler’s lounge. Plus, when there’s a concert playing, you get a live music performance thrown in for the price of your ticket as well.
It’s great for families during the day (11:00 - 18:00) when tickets cost $25.00 for a 30-minute session, but they go up in price by $5.00 from 18:00 until close when there’s a cooler crowd.
Go Back In Time At Pinball Hall of Fame
If you’re old enough to remember the vintage pinball machines from a childhood spent playing in the arcades, take a trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame for a hit of nostalgia that can take you all the way back to the 1940s, as well as the chance to play some modern games.
It's located right next to the strip after moving to a new place in April 2021 and it now boasts 25,000 square feet of space that is filled with your favorite classic pinball machines. Don’t forget to bring your quarters, but otherwise, this is a great cheap activity to do in Las Vegas.
Food is one of the easiest things to overspend on, even when you’ve budgeted strictly for it. Eating downtown is much cheaper and can be a great evening out nonetheless.
The Fremont East bar district in downtown Vegas is more than just affordable, it’s actually one of the biggest and hottest food scenes currently thriving in the city. It has a great vibe that attracts all sorts of hipsters and the rad restaurants are really reasonably priced.
A few of our favorite spots include Le Thai, VegeNation, Evel Pie, and Carson Kitchen, but there are so many different places to try that you could definitely dine there most nights and still keep your food bill below $20 at most of the restaurants!
Get On the Slotzilla Zip Line
Here is another thrilling activity that might blow your mind but won’t blow the budget.
For the price of just $20.00 and your life flashing before your eyes, you can experience the world-famous Slotzilla zip line which will get you 114 feet up into the air where you will see views of Fremont Streets as you travel 850 feet across it at speeds seen in a NASCAR race.
It only takes about 20 minutes for the whole experience to wrap up, but you won’t be able to see Fremont Street the same way ever again after viewing it from up here.
Visit Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Less interested in the adrenaline rush and more interested in the Art this city has to offer? Check out the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art to see the world-class exhibits shown in both famous museums and as part of private collections.
Tickets are around $18 for which you’ll get to see works from the likes of Warhol and Monet.
Get Your Adrenaline Pumping At Adventuredome at Circus Circus
Our final family-friendly activity that’s affordable but will certainly get your adrenaline pumping is the Adventuredome at Circus Circus. The indoor theme park is one of the largest in the whole of America and has over five acres of activities to keep your kids entertained.
Check out some of the roller coasters, bumper cars, mini-golf, or try winning yourself one of the stuffed animal prizes from one of the many midway games. There is plenty to do for all ages making this the perfect place for a family day out, and you can easily spend the day.
In terms of prices, you can pay as little as $6 to $12, but if you are planning on staying there a little longer than the length of a few rides, you’ll get better value for money if you purchase an all-day pass for $31.95 or a junior all-day pass for $17.95 (must be under 48 inches tall).
We hope that we’ve been able to show you just how affordable Las Vegas can be if you want to stick to a stricter budget while you’re away and that the tips and tricks we’ve included throughout this article will help you save money whilst still having the best time.
It doesn’t always need to be outrageously big bets and penthouse suites and rogue tigers - this isn’t ‘The Hangover’, after all, it’s a regular holiday and tourist destination, where regular holidaymakers and tourists visit. Don’t count yourself out of this list before you’ve even tried!