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Hacking Vegas ($)

As you may remember from a few posts ago, Derek and I had the brilliant idea of making a trip to Vegas while we were in San Francisco.

Well, it happened.

And it was an incredible time.

I’m going to share some of our gained knowledge on how to “hack” Vegas, and possibly come out with more money than you flew in with … Just kidding. If you choose to gamble, the odds are quite against you and your soon-to-be-empty pockets.

“The House always wins.”

But — there are easy ways to make your trip virtually inexpensive.

First let’s talk about flights and hotel-stay. When you book a flight through Expedia, there are a series of “package” options to choose from. By booking a flight AND a hotel at the same time, these package deals are generally a better steal than booking each separately. I found a flight to Vegas for less than $120 on Expedia via Spirit airlines (watch out for the checked-bag fees), and with that I began going through all the hotels that had those package deals available. I ended up booking a room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for two nights, and my total was $200 … Flight included! Granted, the Hardrock is about a mile off the strip, but compared to similiarly-priced hotels in the area, the HR was definitely the nicest.

Transportation: A mile-long cab ride could easily amount to $10+ with the initial surcharge and Vegas traffic, so take advantage of staying on the Strip (It’s a lot of walking, considering each enormous hotel is about a half-mile long, but it’s doable. Especially at night, when it’s cooler) If staying off the Strip, like me, then take advantage of the free bus or shuttle services that take you to the Strip. The HR had one, and other hotels in the area usually do as well.

Wining and dining: A Long Island Ice Tea cost me about $20 in a club… so if you’re not trying to drop $100 in a single club, take advantage of the many liquor stores around and make drinks in your hotel room. A beer at a pool party cost me more than $10, but the same beer (and about triple the size) was sold at the Walgreens next door for $3. Luckily the lack of open container laws allow one to drink as they please, wherever they please. I made the mistake of wanting to order fancy drinks while I was out … Not worth it.

Oh, you also drink free while you gamble, even if you’re just sitting at a slot machine. But it takes a while for the waitress to come around and then another while for her to bring you your drink, so, if patience isn’t your virtue, bring your own.

Getting into clubs/day parties: Go to this site, and sign yourself up. I was skeptical at first, thinking it could not be that easy to get my name on a guest list. I mean really, who am I? But the process was surprisingly efficient. You simply sign up, choose the clubs/parties you want to go to and you’re name is put on a guest list, which allows you to skip the line and enter for free! Once you arrive in Vegas, you will get a text message and/or email from a promoter, explaining what time(s) you should arrive and what to say at the door. It works. I went to Pure‘s rooftop club (which is now apparently closed from renovations, at Caesar’s Palace), which had free drinks for ladies until midnight, and the Marquee day party at the Cosmopolitan through this site.

As for gambling… stay off the penny slots. They’ll really get you. And if you sit at a Blackjack table, good luck getting up.


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Where to’s

Now that I’ve caught you up with my most recent travels, I can start planning for future ones!

Today’s place of interest: VEGAS!

When my mom moved to San Francisco last year, I took it upon myself to declare an end-of-the-school-year tradition with my boyfriend: a trip to California.

This passed weekend Derek and I were sitting on the beach draped in sweaters and towels (it was windy) and talking about the upcoming trip when it dawned on us: Vegas is a nine-hour drive away from SF. Better yet, it’s an hour and a half flight away. And then I remembered seeing 100$ plane tickets from Fort Lauderdale to Vegas about three months prior, and then Derek told me that you can find hotels there on the strip for less than a 100$ a night, and then he went on to tell me that his uncle can get free show tickets …

WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS! (well, hopefully)

So, I began to do some snooping around the web.

I started out where everyone looking for traveling deals should: Groupon.

I found a deal for a hotel on The Strip, a room for two at the Riviera Hotel And Casino for 17$ a night. Let me repeat that: 17$ a night. Now that is unreal. Of course, it’s not the Bellagio, but for someone who’s on a very tight budget, that’s a heck of steal. More money to be spent on gambling, eating, drinking, watching shows (what else do you do in Vegas again?)

Of course, I wouldn’t just hit the “Buy” button without looking up some reviews. If there’s anyone I fully trust in this world … it’s the creators of Yelp.

According to Yelp’s reviews, the Riviera Hotel is rated at about 2.5 stars. Skimming the complaints about broken toilets, slow service, no towel replacements and the angry “I will never stay in this hell hole ever again!” I couldn’t help but think to myself “Well, what did you expect from a 17$ a night hotel?”

Then again, others dub it 4 to 5 stars and say the loved it. I’m sure they prefer heavier pockets over cleaner sheets.

So far the flights I have found range from 190$ to 250$ one-way from Florida to Vegas. I experiment with various airports: Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and on various days of the week (I think Tuesdays are best). But, don’t give up. Whenever you find a lower price, keep looking — there’s always hidden deals out there. Spirit airlines, although it’s reputation isn’t the highest, is known for having the cheapest flights. But watch out for their extra fees.

I’ll update this in the next couple weeks … let’s see if I can make this real-life Hangover-trip happen.

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