Vegas on a Budget: Do it Big Without Spending a Dime

Budget Travel, Nevada — By on October 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

By Megan Hubbell

Vegas works hard to live up to its Sin City alias: gluttony, vanity and greed are right at your fingertips with some of the world’s most elite shopping, finest luxury hotels and top restaurants all conveniently located in one tiny desert oasis. However, there is one original sin that you shouldn’t have to worry about on your trip, and that’s envy, as you too can have a truly fabulous Vegas experience without having to spend a fortune popping bottles like Jay-Z.

After spending an entire summer working as a club promoter on the Vegas strip, I quickly learned a few tricks of the trade and realized that Sin City is actually very affordable if you’re a young woman with a little insider know-how. Here are a few useful tips of how to do it big in Vegas without spending a dime… everything from free entry into some of the hottest clubs all the way to getting complimentary dinners at some of the city’s trendiest restaurants.

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

Free Club Entry

Vegas is known across the globe as one of the world’s top party hot spots. No Vegas trip would be complete without spending at least one day having fun in the sun at one of the city’s notorious pool parties and at least one night stumbling back to your hotel room (heels in hand) as the sun’s coming up after a long night out at the club. However, having to spend up to $30 on entry fees alone is enough to kill anyone’s party buzz, especially if you’re on a budget.

Fortunately, by being an informed female, the Vegas strip can become your free playground.

It’s no exaggeration that the second you step foot onto the Vegas strip, club promoters will start harassing you like the paparazzi all over a freshly bald Britney Spears, trying to get your name on their guest list in exchange for free entry into their club that night. You might get irritated after the one hundredth time you hear “Hey ladies, what are your plans for the night?” But take advantage of the situation and put your names on as many guest lists as possible. After all, giving your name does not put you under any sort of obligation to attend, so it’s a good idea to keep your options open. Also, make it a point to pay attention to what the promoters say about each club, making a note of what time the club opens (typically 10:30) and what time the guest list closes (typically midnight).

At the end of the day, you and your girlfriends should narrow down your list to the top three clubs that you want to check out and plan to get to these clubs early, around the time they open. I know no one wants to be the nerdy early bird who is the first to show up at the club and is already waiting in line by the time the bouncers get there, but if you’re a savvy girl, this rule does not apply in Vegas.

All of the nightclubs on the strip are located inside casinos, and the big head honchos who make their fortune off of drunk people gambling away their retirement funds don’t want the clubs stealing their clientele. Therefore, all of the nightclubs will stamp your hand so that you may freely walk in and out of the club just in case the gambling bug starts to itch while you’re busy busting moves out on the dance floor. Most clubs even have a re-entry line so that you don’t have to wait another 30 minutes just to get back inside. These wonderful little stamps give you the freedom to walk into a club and if you so please, turn around and leave ten minutes later. This gives you the opportunity to hit up all of the other clubs where you also have your name on the guest list before midnight to ensure your free entry there as well. This will come in especially handy around 1:30a.m. when all of the “cool” kids are just arriving and have to wait in long lines just to pay $30 at the door when you can easily stroll pass them, flash your stamp and walk straight through the re-entry line for free! This technique also works for the daytime pool parties.

Vegas Pool Parties

Free Food

It’s a little known fact, but in Vegas some of the very same promoters who are trying to get you on their nightclub guest list also promote for some of the best restaurants on the strip. During the weekdays when business is a little slower, many restaurants will have promoters set up free dinners for young women in groups of three or more in order to fill the place with cute girls  and to attract more customers by making the restaurant seem hip, young and trendy. These free meals are typically from a pre-set menu and include one cocktail, two appetizers, and smaller portions of several of the main entrees to be shared tappas style, followed by two desserts. The only thing that you would be required to pay for would be the tip for the server out of courtesy.

Although the promoters for these restaurants aren’t as easy to come by as the numerous nightclub promoters, just ask around. Most promoters on the strip work hand-in-hand, often referring clients to one another. If one promoter can’t set you up for one of these dinners, chances are they’ll know someone who can. Some of the restaurants that I’ve happily abused this privilege at during my three month long stay include Lavo, inside the Palazzo Resort and Beso, Eva Langoria’s restaurant inside the Aria Casino.

Vegas on a Budget

Free Drinks

For the most part, woman are no strangers to not having to pay money for alcohol although these drinks are rarely “free” and in reality usually come at a price. Typically, that price is in the form of a creepy man who thinks he has the right to follow you around all night like a lost puppy just because he bought you one lousy drink. As annoying as these desperate men might be, do you still have a hard time to justify buying a tiny cranberry and vodka for $15 yourself? Trust me, I understand.

Fortunately there are ways around this dilemma in Vegas. For one, no matter which casino you walk into, as long as you’re gambling, drinks are on the house. So my suggestion is, find the cheapest slot machine around (as some casinos even have penny slots) plop your budget-watching butt down, hale over the closes cocktail waitress and order whatever your heart desires. Tip the waitress well on the first round to ensure she comes back frequently, never letting you see the bottom of your glass.

Vegas on a Budget

Free Transportation

With the Vegas strip stretching out over four miles, taxis will definitely come in handy. Although they may not seem too outrageous at first, averaging about $8 a ride, they can quickly burn a hole in your pocket if you’re not careful. This is especially true if your destination is off the strip.

Why in the world would anyone want to go off the strip? Many first time visitors don’t realize that one of the most iconic figures in Vegas, the Palms Resort and Casino (home of the infamous Playboy Suite), is actually located just west of Las Vegas Blvd. Whether you’re a guest of the resort or just stopping by to attend a “Ditch Friday” pool party or to grab a drink at Ghostbar, the bar located on the 55th floor of the casino with a glass bottom balcony overlooking the strip, the transportation to and from the strip can get a bit pricey. However, you can avoid the cost as well as the hassle of waiting in a long taxis lines by taking the casino’s free shuttle which will drop you off  or pick you up either at the Fashion Show Mall (located at the south end of the strip) or at the Forum Shops inside Caesar’s Palace (centrally located on the strip). The shuttle runs from 10 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. seven days a week and comes around every 30 minutes.

Have you been to Vegas? Share your best money saving tips in the comments section below!


Photos by Megan Hubbell and Alexandra Baackes

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  • Shannon says:

    Even if you’re trying to do it up a little in Vegas, I think there are ways to do it on a budget! We splurged a bit too much on food, but there are actually some great buffet options that are really affordable (and good)! Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan runs $22 for brunch and it’s incredible (+9$ for bottomless drinks). Also, using Hotwire to book a hotel can save some serious money. I’ve had mixed experiences, but the prices are pretty unbeatable.

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