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A Beginners Guide to Surviving Your First Weekend in Las Vegas

By Hope Armstrong in Tips & Tricks / Strategies
| September 18, 2017 12:00 am PDT
Surviving Las Vegas

You’ve booked your very first trip to Sin City…


Pack your hangover remedies and leave your inhibitions at home!

No one needs inhibitions in Las Vegas!

After all, you know what they say:

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…


While that may have been true 15 years ago, now that everyone carries a camera in their pocket, trust me when I tell you that your bad decisions can come back to haunt you when you get home!

Thanks to social media,
very little stays a secret these days.

It’s probably wise to make sure to avoid some of the biggest whoopsies and I’m here to help you do just that.

Here are my top 5 tips to survive Sin City like a pro.

5. Plan Ahead

I’m sure you’ve been thinking non-stop about what you want to do in Las Vegas, ever since you hit “confirm” on that travel website. In fact, I bet you’ve been thinking about it for years.

So after you book your trip (but long before you get off the plane at McCarran International), I recommend that you sit down and put together a list of your absolute “MUST-DO’s”.

You’ll be amazed at all there is to do in the middle of the desert in Nevada!

As soon as you have your “MUST DO” list, look at the number of days you have in Las Vegas and try to space out your events accordingly.

Try to not pack too many events in per day, so you aren’t frantically running from one event to the next all day.

If you do that, you’ll burn out and never make it to the end of your list. I don’t want you to go home and have regrets about everything you missed out on because you experienced Vegas burn out.

Plan your events geographically too. There are basically 5 different geographic areas to divide your plans into:

  • The South Strip (around Mandalay Bay)
  • The Four Corners (Bellagio/Caesars)
  • The North Strip (as far as the Stratosphere)
  • Downtown (Fremont Street)
  • Off-The-Beaten-Path (anywhere off the strip, including places as remote as the Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam)

If you’re going to try and fit a number of events into a single morning or afternoon, I would highly recommend you stay in one geographic zone.

Even though everything looks really close, looks can be very deceiving.

Nothing is as close as it seems (and nothing is as good a deal as it seems either!)

Even if you are only in town for a four-day weekend and your “MUST-DO” list is a mile long, you can easily get to everything on your list with some well-thought out planning.

By grouping your events by location and not booking too many things in too tight a time-table, you will be able to get in everything you’ve been dreaming of without missing out. And that’s a relief, because no one likes FOMO!

Make sure to leave some large blocks of free time in your planning, because as soon as you get into town, I guarantee your “MUST-DO” list will grow exponentially. There are so many things to see and do, you probably won’t even blink for the first 48 hours.

If you are too busy running from one scheduled event to the next, you will miss out on my favorite part of Vegas: wandering around and finding new and exciting adventures purely by coming upon them spontaneously.

I know this seems like a lot of planning, which sounds like it takes the fun right out of your Vegas adventures.

But planning ahead will actually make your adventures run much smoother!

It will also ensure you don’t miss out on anything that you have had on your bucket list forever… and that would be truly tragic.

Let’s not miss out on our bucket list adventures because we were “too cool” to make a plan!

4. Nap

You didn’t go all the way to Las Vegas to nap, did you? NO WAY! You can push right through and stay up for four days straight, right? WRONG! If you try to jump right in with an extreme schedule, I promise you that you will end up passing out and sleeping through one (or more) of the events you had planned.

And if I was a betting person (which I totally am obviously), I would bet that if you don’t schedule in a nap on that first day, you’ll miss your reservations on the first night.

In order to get the full Vegas experience, I highly recommend scheduling in a nap every day.

Yes, I said schedule.

Seriously, set aside some time every day between your daytime activities and your nighttime adventures to go back to the room and recharge. If you plan on getting those mimosas at brunch and then hitting the clubs in the wee hours of the morning, you’ll need a nap in between to power through.

Vegas schedules aren’t for the faint of heart. Trust me, it’s like no other schedule you’ve ever tried to keep. Even for those that have insane schedules at home, the Vegas experience takes that to a whole new level. Be kind to your body and get a little shut-eye between events.

You’ll thank me later when you can hit that club and haven’t crashed hard at 9pm. No one likes a party pooper. Especially not in Sin City!

3. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

I know what you’re probably thinking: there’s water in beer, right? And yes, technically there is, but it’s not quite what I meant when I said to hydrate.

In order to put in the marathon hours you’re hoping to, you need to help your body out. And the number one key is:

(and not the kind mixed with barley and hops!)

Las Vegas is located in the Mojave Desert, and as such it is a very dry and arid environment. You will likely notice the heat right away but what you might miss is how dehydrating it can be.

You might not realize just how much water you are losing because you are focused on the sights and sounds of the Entertainment Capital of the World.

One of the best things about Las Vegas is that it’s a 24 hour town. It is literally the city that never sleeps, and you’ll always find action in the casinos no matter the time of day (or night!).

It isn’t frowned upon or even unusual to order yourself a drink before breakfast… in fact, it’s pretty much expected!

But I’m guessing that isn’t your regular routine at home, so it will take some experience to make it from those breakfast beers all the way until your nightcap after the club.

How do you do it without your body quitting on you?
WATER. Lots and lots of water.

For every drink you have, it’s a good rule of thumb to match it with one bottle of water. I always try to order them at the same time, so I don’t lose track and forget. Every time a cocktail waitress comes by, I always make sure to order my cocktail and a bottle of water together. I also like to keep a bottle of water with me to fill at water fountains.

Make sure to keep yourself hydrated, and you’ll be thanking me when you aren’t spending the night stuck in your room with heat stroke.

Your trip is short enough as it is, you don’t want to waste any of your much-anticipated vacation because you failed to take care of your body!

2. Communication is Key

It can be complicated to travel in a large group. It might seem like you’re always sitting around waiting on someone, and that can get frustrating. That frustration can lead to fights and feelings of resentment. Both of which can ruin a long-awaited vacation.

Having a well-communicated plan can alleviate a lot of that stress. Setting up specific meeting times and locations ahead of time will make everyone feel less irritated and it will seem like there is more free time.

And in a short trip with so many things to see, the last thing you want to do is spend your time waiting around.

If you’re traveling from another country (or anywhere that is outside of your cell phone plan), I would strongly recommend adding a text package to your cell phone at a minimum. This way, you will be able to stay in communication with your group and no one will be left wondering what is happening.

If you have reservations at 9pm, but you’re the only one standing out front at 8:59pm, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you can text your group and find out where everyone is.

Again, no one wants to spend their vacation waiting around. Keeping in touch will make your trip much smoother and with less conflict.

1. Money Management

Picture this: you’re in Vegas for 4 amazing days. You have all sorts of exciting things planned and you can’t wait to see everything you’ve always dreamed of.

But you wake up on morning #3 and realize you over-spent and you’re completely broke. You’ve lost your entire vacation bankroll and you still have 50% of your trip left.

I really don’t want that hypothetical situation to become your reality, so I’m going to tell you a harsh truth that you might not want to hear:

Las Vegas is a
very expensive town.

You’ve probably heard the tales of the 99 cent shrimp cocktails and $1.99 buffets.

Everyone has an Uncle Larry who has bragged for the last 20 years about how he went to Vegas and only spent 10 bucks on food for a whole week. So you’re probably thinking I’m crazy and you don’t need to manage your money that carefully because everything is super cheap in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

Las Vegas is an expensive town these days. Gone are the days of cheap buffets with crappy food. Nowadays, Las Vegas attracts all the big-name celebrity chefs and you’ll be amazed at the quality of food prepared every day.

Every restaurant goes above and beyond to try and out-impress the last place you ate, and it’s a culinary experience that everyone should be lucky enough to try at least once.

But with the increase in quality comes the increase in price. Though there are bargains to be found, in general, you will likely be spending much more than you anticipated on food daily, so be sure not to lose control and over-spend.

Another easy way to lose track of your spending is in tips. The service you will receive in Las Vegas is incomparable to everywhere else I’ve ever been. The staff will literally bend over backwards to help you have the trip of a lifetime. But that kind of treatment is worthy of thanks and appreciation, in the form of well-earned and appreciated gratuities.

Everyone from the bell desk to the bartenders are there to help you enjoy every minute of your trip, so don’t forget to budget in tip money for every day.

You don’t want to blow your vacation budget

because you forgot to factor in gratuities!

This is where thinking ahead will help you get to the last day without needing an advance on your Visa.

Last but not least, let’s talk about your gambling fund. This is the easiest place to lose track of your spending. Nothing is more distracting than those neon lights and friendly pit dealers calling you over to play. Not to mention the enticing slot machines calling your name.

So how do we keep a level head and make sure we still have money left tomorrow?

I have an easy-peasy solution that I still use to this day (and I’ve been visiting Vegas for more years than I care to admit!).

Take your entire gambling budget and divide it into piles for the number of days you are in town. Put each pile in its own envelope and mark it by date.

Seal the envelope and leave all envelopes in the safe in your room. Every morning, only take that day’s envelope with you.

Under no circumstances do you take out another envelope until the next day.

So once your daily money is gone, you’d better hope it’s almost bedtime because not much is free in Vegas!

The Wrap Up

With a little planning, a lot of water, and some strict money management, I’m confident that you will not only survive your first trip to Las Vegas, you’ll crush it like a seasoned pro.

Don’t forget to stay in communication with your group and recharge with a nap (or two!).

If you follow these simple insider tips, I promise that you’ll be re-living your epic Vegas adventure for years to come!



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