Editor’s note: I told members of the Facebook group that I’d love it if they shared their favorite Vegas tips, trip reports, and the like. Teresa came through in a big way. This is a first in a two-part series. In this post, she’s sharing her planning process. After the trip, we’ll see how well she and her family executed it. I absolutely love this; it has already spawned some great ideas for my upcoming visits. Here’s how Teresa plans for their long trip and her family’s hopeful itinerary:
I am frugal (but not cheap) and this is honestly the most “bang-for-your-buck” vacation we ever take. Although we talk about it all year, my real planning starts now – 90 days out – because that’s when I can cash in my MyVegas rewards, look for Groupons, Living Social, TravelZoo deals.
I even make the” Big Board” where I write activities and meals on sticky notes and arrange them to maximize fun.
Now, I’ll start out by saying that I realize that this method is over-the-top and not for everyone. For me, the anticipation, planning, and $avings are part of the fun!
Core board (Mine is 17X22)
Sticky notes – I use the 1 ½ “ X 2” size
This year is an unusual trip for us because our adult children will be accompanying us to the Star Trek Las Vegas 50th Anniversary Con at the Rio. Because the dates for that are fixed, that provided an anchor point for our trip.
We book through Southwest Vacations because it has proven to be cheaper to book a package than separate airfare & hotel. And while the room is booked for the entire vacation, we often get additional rooms to take advantage of promotions or locations during the trip. An advantage is that we have a home base where all our “stuff” stays. (Usually one night downtown & last year we got a free night at Mandalay Bay so we could use the pool).
All through the year I read and follow podcasts (Like this one!) and message boards to get ideas of fun activities. I am looking for maximum fun for minimum output. One of my favorites is the“Happy Hour”.
What I look for in Happy Hour – I don’t just want a cheap beer or drink. My favorite Happy Hours are in some of the high-end restaurants. You can get 1-2 appetizers each and what I call a “fancy drink”. This is our dinner. The food is fantastic, the atmosphere fun, and the price is a fraction of what we would pay for an actual meal there. I google “Las Vegas Happy Hours” and read the reviews. Be sure to note the days & times of each one. Another tip: they are sometimes called “Social Hour”. As with everything in Vegas, they change often so be prepared to be flexible.
I keep my eye on Groupons & buy when they have a 20% off sale. I also play MyVegas and get a few rewards that way. Couponing is not what it used to be. There used to be great coupons everywhere – now they don’t seem to be as enticing as they used to be. I still gather all the free magazines & brochures & flip through them in the evening while sipping a cocktail in my room, but honestly don’t find much of use to us anymore.
This year we are renting a car. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. Typically if we are traveling between hotels or going to one of the many canyons or parks we will rent. For travel on the strip we sometimes use MyVegas for BOGO monorail multiday passes. This year the travel up & down the strip is minimal so we will probably take the free tram that goes between Bellagio & Monte Carlo. We have used the bus pass in the past but found that they can get really crowded. We also walk. A lot.
When it is time to go to Vegas, I stack all the sticky notes and bring them with us. When we get to the hotel, I arrange them on the mirror. The beauty is – flexibility! If we don’t get to an activity or meal, I just rearrange!
I write the day/date on the sticky note and arrange them across the top of the board. Our trips are typically 10 days. Then I try to arrange activities by grouping things by location. Not everything is on the Board – time in between is spent gambling, people watching, drinking $1 Michelobs from Casino Royale, etc. Here is a picture of the big board currently and an explanation of what is on it.
land at 5pm. Go to Walmart & buy water, bananas, mixed nuts, mixer & alcohol for the room. (Usually vodka, and Bailey’s & Jameson for Irish coffees). This year because our kids are coming with us, we are also buying a cheap coffee pot for our hotel room & coffee.
Dinner at BLT Steakhouse: purchased through TravelZoo ($115)
Breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. We have signed up through Lettuce Entertain You for free coupons, but even if we don’t get them we will eat here because it’s fun to sit outside & watch the strip come to life. The Eggs Benedict are amazing!
Bellagio Dinner Buffet (BOGO from MyVegas)
Possibly Wayne Newton if I can get ½ price tickets.
Aria Breakfast Buffet (BOGO MyVegas)
Kids land at 5
High Roller Happy Hour (Two Groupons 20%off – $63.20 each) – See Vegas lit up and get lit up.
Paris Breakfast Buffet (I love the Eggs Benedict & the Crepes). Tip: Reserve with Open Table & skip the lines!
Husband & younger son to the Con at the Rio. Older son & I go to Red Rock Canyon. We will eat lunch at Red Rock Casino (2 free from MyVegas).
Meet back up for dinner.
Free whiskey tasting at Vom Fass at Venetian 7pm
Star Trek Con. We have rooms reserved at the Rio so we can drink/hang out and not worry about travel. It will be nice to have a home base there.
KISS glow in the dark Mini Golf (Groupon $19.19 for all four of us)
Rio Champagne Breakfast Buffet
Wolfgang Puck’s Cucina at Crystal’s Happy Hour (all day)
Foundation Room at House of Blues (I heard there’s free admission before 9pm)
Dinner at 9 Fine Irishmen (free entree MyVegas)
Drive downtown to Golden Nugget ($39room plus coupons for drinks, buffets, etc)
Pizza Rock (Happy Hour 3-6 or just a slice)
Chart House Happy Hour 4-6 (one of my favorites)
Golden Nugget Buffet (I can’t remember if our promotion is BOGO or 2 free)
Visit Downtown Container Park
Cheffini hot dog
Back to strip
Buddy V’s Happy Hour at Venetian. We have a few apps then order a slice of cake & share it.
Madame Tussads (BOGO MyVegas). This has been on our list forever but we haven’t gone there
Looking for a Groupon for Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet. If not, then Samblatte
Day Spa pass at Linq $20 7-7
Verandah Happy Hour at Four Seasons 5-7
Charlie Palmer Steak House Cut of the week (with bottomless wine!) $58pp
Looking for Groupon for Giada’s for breakfast
About the author:
In 1987 we eloped to Las Vegas. And a love affair began (with us and Vegas). We are East Coasters who visit once a year. We often say that each visit is a continuation of the visit before. We are frugal – but not cheap. My motto is “I save where I can so I can spend where I want”. If I had to choose a slogan for Vegas it would be: Vegas – whatever you want it to be.