Surviving Las Vegas. Travel Tips for the Las Vegas Strip.
Making the most of your time and money in the city that devours both.
While some of these suggestions might apply to any destination, most are specific to the particular landscape and customs of Las Vegas—specifically the Strip, which is the primary focus of most Vegas visitors. These tips have nothing to do with gambling strategy and offer no advice on attracting a host or managing a players club account. This is about the day-to-day minutiae of travel—tips for rising, shining and keeping your cool in a city that never blinks.
Pack your bags. When arriving at McCarran Airport, many of us like to hit the tarmac running. Standing and watching a carousel of orbiting luggage may not be on the agenda. Unfortunately, current airport security measures have made the carry-on only practice a bit more daunting. One may plan for weeks and employ strategic packing methods for short or extended stays, only to be foiled by the inclusion of liquids, gels and other red flag security items. There are still ways to beat the system, however. Instead of purchasing smaller versions of these toiletries and dutifully filling a zip-top bag, simply wait until you arrive in Vegas, and buy even smaller versions. Tiny toothpaste and other Lilliputian items are all for sale in every hotel gift shop. If you aren’t too picky about brand loyalty, just buy what you need when you arrive, and discard the unused portions.
Smarter packing methods, like bundle-wrapping, can help you keep everything down to the one carry-on and one personal item allowed. If that personal item happens to be a backpack or briefcase, that’s just more room for small items of clothing, or phone and laptop chargers. If you pack shoes or boots, don’t waste that interior space. Fill them with anything that will fit.
You can reduce the amount of space allocated for clothing by taking advantage of the laundry service at the your hotel. The added expense is a small price to pay for being unburdened by extraneous luggage. During summer months, lightweight synthetics can be quickly hand-washed in the bathroom sink and dried overnight.
Coffee. The aforementioned Strip is home to the majority of the world’s largest hotels, totaling more than 67,000 rooms. With a few unfortunate exceptions, any room you book on the Strip will be luxurious and spacious and brimming with amenities. However, many of these properties traditionally omit a basic item you might be expecting. The coffeemaker. High-end properties like Bellagio and the Venetian don’t have them. Both of these hotels boast about 4,000 rooms, and keeping that many in-room coffeemakers sanitary is simply not cost-effective. Room service is an obvious alternative. The freshly brewed and delivered coffee will be better than standard hotel room java, and you’ll pay for the difference. Some properties, like Planet Hollywood, feature a simple, one-cup coffeemaker, but the prepackaged coffee produces a bland and disappointing cup of Joe.
The solution is simple. Bring your own coffee. Pack a container of your favorite brand, and purchase a $10 coffeemaker at Walgreens. There are several on the Strip, one conveniently located between the Venetian and Palazzo. If you don’t know what to do with the machine once your trip is over, just remember the cost, and you’ll figure it out. And don’t forget the filters.
Water and snacks. While you’re purchasing that coffeemaker, take the opportunity to procure bottled water and snacks. This additional purchase may stop you from indulging in the $12 bag of chips and overpriced beverages lurking in your in-room mini-bar. When booking your room, you can also request a small refrigerator for a nominal fee. Stocking this with a variety of consumables will also keep you away from more pricey offerings. On the other hand, if pillaging the mini-bar is integral to your Vegas experience … go for it. There is something quite addictive about $12 potato chips.
Don’t get lost. You may be staying at a hotel with 5,000 rooms, and there will be no corresponding number printed on your disposable key-card. That number, all five digits and the accompanying hyphen, was scribbled on a piece of folded cardstock by the desk clerk, and now resides somewhere in your room, completely ignored. It’s 3:30 in the morning, and you’ve been staring at magical numbers for hours. You may have even consumed a few alcoholic beverages … and simply cannot remember your room number. In fact, you can’t even be certain of which floor it’s on. What do you do? Instead of panicking, you take out your phone and look at the photo of the door you took when you arrived. There’s that room number. Now get some sleep.
Money in your pocket. Carrying money in Vegas, either on a casino floor or simply walking down the Strip, requires a bit of forethought. A wallet in your back pocket is just begging for a new home. All cash should be carried in a front pocket, either in a wallet or a money clip. A casino is no place for a handbag either, and heightened awareness should be maintained when carrying one anywhere in Vegas. There are several alternatives. A small Sling Bag or Travel Shoulder Bag that hugs the body is a safer option. You can also carry items in a small, digital camera case. This can be clipped to a belt, freeing up your hands and pockets. Although, it’s not a good idea to keep your money in there, as these cases are too easily detached.
Stay cool. Hydration is important in the desert. Dressing appropriately for each season will also make your stay more enjoyable. Exposed arms and legs require sunblock or sunscreen, and don’t forget the top of your head. Walking from CityCenter to Treasure Island in the middle of August can result in a painfully sunburned scalp, even if you still have plenty of hair. So, wear a hat. You’re the only one who thinks it makes you look foolish.
Don’t lose all your money. Hang onto enough to tip housekeeping and pay for a cab to the airport. Remember, many Las Vegas cabs still don’t take plastic. You don’t want to get stranded, and it’s too far to walk. With a bit of planning, however, you can schedule a shuttle pickup, and save a few bucks on that leg of the journey. And when you get to your gate, smile at the arriving passengers, no matter how irritating their exuberance may seem at the time. You were once every bit as excited and optimistic as they are. And with any luck, you will be again.