Las Vegas. I have such a love-hate relationship with Sin City. The last time I visited, I went with four girlfriends for my 25th birthday, and we were wild. These days, nearly five years later, I’m in an entirely different place in my life with a closer eye on my bank account.

Whenever I hear the words Las Vegas all I can think is money signs because the reality is that you can have whatever you want in life in that weird, strange city, it just comes at a price.

So, when asked if I wanted to do a 36-hour trip for a friend’s 30th birthday last week, I was hesitant. It turns out it is possible to visit without breaking the bank. It’s also a fun way to blow off some steam with close friends surrounded by people with a similar mentality.

Here are some ways to keep your wallet full and your dignity intact when visiting Las Vegas.

DO NOT Stay Longer Than Two Days

I mean this with all seriousness. The longer you stay in Las Vegas, the more money you will spend, and possibly loose. You can do all of the “traditional” Las Vegas activities in a two day period; you don’t need more than that and probably won’t want more by the end. Hang out by the pool, walk the Strip and casinos, go to a show, and then say see you later.

Timing is Everything

The time of year you visit can make or break your bank account. Visiting during the off-months, such as January, February, October, November, and during the middle of the week is where you’ll find the best flight and hotel deals. Be sure to double-check there aren’t any conferences during the time you want to visit, too. Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all offer cheap deals to Las Vegas. A round trip ticket leaving on Thursday morning from Denver to Las Vegas and returning Friday evening on Frontier cost us $39/each.

Buy Your Show Tickets the Day-Of

Many of the shows offered in Las Vegas won’t sell out during the off-time, which means there are great deals for tickets the day-of to fill those seats. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is by walking along the Strip to the various kiosk booths selling tickets and see what they’re offering. You can get discounted tickets anywhere from 35-50% cheaper than if you bought your ticket ahead of time. Don’t purchase tickets through the hotels or resorts; you’ll typically pay full price.

Buffet All Day

Las Vegas is the land of the over-indulgent, high-quality, lavish buffet. For $25 you can have whatever you want and eat as much as physically possible in two hours. It’s disgusting and amazing at the same time. These buffets are the real deal. My recommendation: Go to the Wynn Hotel on the other end of the strip for a real treat. It’s the best buffet I’ve ever experienced, offering everything from sushi, dumplings, and made-to-order tacos, to charcuterie and gelato.

Make Your Drinks (or Gamble for Free Drinks)

Alcohol is expensive, and you can expect to pay anywhere between $12-17 for a cocktail. To cut down on the cost of drinks (and your sugar intake), go to a convenience store, buy your liquor there, and make your drinks. You’ll save an enormous amount of money on alcohol alone. And if you’re gambling, the casino will provide free drinks… Just watch that you’re not gambling all of your money away for the free cocktails.

Free Entertainment is the Las Vegas Strip & Your Hotel Pool

When it comes to entertainment, all you need to do is walk along the Las Vegas Strip and through the different casinos. Each hotel has a different theme, and you can spend one full day alone taking it all in. And when you get tired from the heat and the clanging of money in slot machines, take advantage of that free, giant pool you have access to at your hotel.

 

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