Last month we spent two weeks vacationing in Las Vegas. I posted
that vacationing in Las Vegas can be a frugal way to get away, and wanted to review how much our trip cost us.
Rental Car: $203.31 ($14.52 per day)
Hotels: $307.35 ($21.95 per day)
Food: $198.52 ($14.18 per day)
Gambling and Entertainment: $117
Tips and Miscellaneous Cash Spent: $200
Airport Parking: $61.68
One of the largest costs of any vacation is getting there. Two flights from Tampa to Las Vegas and back cost $560, which was cheap. I had a $100 voucher from an earlier trip and I planned this trip around when flights were least expensive. We flew there and back on a Saturday, which is usually a less expensive day to fly since you aren't competing with business travelers for your seat.
We ate well, and I could have easily spent half what we did. For example, I dropped $71 on one meal when we visited Gordon Ramsey's BURGR. We dined at a high end Indian restaurant one night. Those two meals alone accounted for half our food expense.
We spent a weekend in Phoenix, where my partner has family. The two nights there cost $112. There were also resort fees and small charges for our rooms in Vegas. I did not have enough comp offers to cover the entire vacation.
I kept our parking costs down by finding an off-airport lot and then searching for discount codes online. Off airport parking saved us $60 off what the Economy Lot at the airport would have cost. We went to four movies while on vacation but only had to pay for two: I scored free passes to an advance screening and we received two tickets by earning points on our Player's Card at one casino. We also visited the Botanical Gardens for free by taking advantage of reciprocal membership privileges. We consumed more alcohol than was healthy, but all that cost was a couple dollars in tips each time.
Advice for Others
I use Las Vegas Advisor
to find deals on food and entertainment. They publish a Top Ten list each month of the best deals in Vegas. I also log into my Player's Club online accounts to see where the special deals are located. Boyd has special hotel rates when you enter your card number (for example, we spent $20 per night for 3 nights at Main Street Station). I also look at where the promotional offers are each day. That's how we obtained free buffets, gifts including a bottle of vodka and a t-shirt, and free movie tickets. For gambling, Downtown Las Vegas is cheaper than the Strip, plus the Fremont Street Experience provides free nightly entertainment. My game of choice is Video Poker, which I actually won money on throughout the trip. I also spent some time playing live poker, where I basically broke even. I played a little Blackjack. During the entire trip I only played on one slot machine. It's a game at Binion's that I have always played when I go there. This visit I won a little on that machine. Bottom line: the casinos make their money on slots, so play at your own risk. Video Poker, played using perfect strategy, has over a 100% payback when you include the value of free alcohol and Player's Club promotions. Similarly, live poker is a game of skill. Stick to games where you have the edge and you will lose less.
All in all, we had a great time and we didn't go into debt in the process. I spent $1,722.53 for the two of us to vacation for 14 days, which amounts to just $123 per day. And I am already thinking about our next Vegas vacation. While it will be shorter in duration, I will also challenge myself to be even more frugal: I want to see if we can spend under $1,000 on our next trip.