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I want to first thank the webmasters at lasvegas-how-to.com for giving me the opportunity to tell my story, "How I survived Las Vegas on less than $20 /day". My name is Tim Lightfoot. I am from Salt Lake City, Utah. I heard lots of great things about Vegas but had never been to Vegas and honestly couldn't afford to go even if I wanted to.
Sometime last year my sister booked a flight on Southwest Airlines to Chicago. She ended up canceling the flight, but couldn't get her money back. Southwest instead gave her credit which she had 12 months to use or lose. Just before the credit expired, she asked me if I wanted it. I figured why not, and immediately planned a day trip to Las Vegas. Here is my story:
Days before my flight date, I did my research and spent a lot of time on this site looking for money saving tips. The first thing I did was make sure I traveled on a weekday and booked an early morning flight since I planned to return the same day. All I carried was a back-pack. In my back pack was a sports bottle for drinking water, my camera, a map of the Vegas strip, some reading material on the plane and a jacket.
My flight landed in Vegas at 9:15am. I followed the signs to the Baggage Claim and Ground transportation. From the baggage claim, I asked for direction to the Ground Level Zero, which happened to be across the passenger pickup area, down the elevator and pass the limousine parking area.
From the Zero Level, I boarded the RTC Bus 108. Paid the driver $5 for a day pass (Now the fare is $7. Make sure you have exact change), this took care of my transportation needs for the entire day. The RTC Bus does not go directly to the Vegas Strip but it took me very close to the strip. The bus traveled along Swenson Ave. I could have easily got off at Swenson and Tropicana Ave and walked 2 blocks to MGM Grand, but I decided to continue and instead got off right in front of the LVH.
From the Hilton, I walked across the street and took Riviera Blvd. About a block and a half walk on Riviera Blvd, I was on Las Vegas Strip. My first stop was the Riviera Hotel Casino. From the research I did earlier, I knew they were offering FREE breakfast and lunch buffet just for signing up for their players club card. It was 10:30am and all I have had to eat so far was a pack of peanuts from Southwest Airlines. It took 10 minutes to signup for the Club Riviera Card, and it was free to sign up. I headed straight to the buffet. The food was good and best of all it was free.
By 11:20am, I was energized and ready for sightseeing. I felt like a kid in a candy store with no money and a big appetite for sightseeing. I had no plans of paying to see any of the Vegas attractions. My focus was mainly on the free attractions. I wanted to see the Circus Acts at Circus Circus, the Forum Shops and Aquarium at Caesars Palace, the Wynn, Palazzo, the canals at the Venetian, Bellagio Fountains, lions at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, and anything else time will permit.
I walked across the Vegas strip from the Riviera and headed to Circus Circus. The Circus Acts were great and worth seeing especially if you visit Las Vegas with kids. From Circus Circus, I boarded the Deuce with my day pass and got off by the Fashion Show Mall and walked across the street to the Wynn. Very nice hotel and great water falls. From the Wynn, I walked to the Palazzo and then to the Venetian. I also visited Treasure Island and took the free tram to the Mirage. From the Mirage, I took the bus to Caesars Palace. I loved the Forum shops and for the first time in my life, I saw a spiral escalator. I actually had to ride it twice.
From Caesars Palace, I hopped on a bus on Flamingo Road heading towards Rio All Suites and the Palms. Rio was nice and I went to see the area where they have the Masquerade Show in the Sky. It was impressive and I wished I was staying the night. From the Rio, I crossed the street to Gold Coast and went to their lunch buffet. I figured it will be cheaper than eating at the Rio. Lunch buffet at the Gold Coast was $9.00 and some change. The food was ok, but it was nothing to write home about. I guess you get what you pay for. It was 4:30pm and so far all I have spent was $14 and change.
I originally planned to visit the Palms hotel, but after a big lunch at Gold Coast, I could barely drag my feet. I headed back to the Rio and hopped on their free shuttle back to the Vegas Strip. The shuttle dropped me off at Harrah's and from there I took the Deuce Bus to the Bellagio. All I can say about the Bellagio is "beautiful". The fountains were breath-taking, but I had the feeling it would have been better at night.
From the Bellagio, my next stop was MGM Grand. I saw the lion habitat. I must have missed feeding time or something because when I got there, the lions were sleeping and all I could see was their belly's against the glass roof. Oh well!
On my list of other places to visit was New York New York and Mandalay Bay. When I got out of MGM Grand it was 6:30pm and I had an 8:45pm flight to catch from McCarran Airport. I figured I better not take any chances.
From MGM Grand, I walked west on Tropicana Ave to a bus stop. Got on Bus 201 towards Paradise Road. I got off on Paradise Road and took Bus 108 back to the Airport. I made my flight on time and had a wonderful time in Vegas.
I promise to be back again soon and next time look for ways to get a free flight and free hotel. My next trip will be an overnight trip for less than $20. I plan to see the Bellagio Fountains at night, the Lake of Dreams at the Wynn, Masquerade Show in the Sky at the Rio and the Fremont Experience Downtown.
I will write a step by step article on how I did it. Stay tuned.
Here are a few things I was unaware of but discovered while I was in Vegas.
1) Bus 108 from the Airport will take you through Swenson Ave but Bus 108 back to the Airport will take you along Paradise Road because both streets are One-Way streets.
2) Wear comfortable walking shoes and drink plenty of water.
3) The fact that a hotel looks close to where you are does not mean it's a short walk.
4) Do not Jaywalk across Las Vegas Blvd. I did it a couple of times but will not recommend it.
Any casinos that you visit you should sign up for their players club card. It's free at every casino and they give you free stuff for just signing up! I have received everything free a free deck of cards and a free t-shirt, to a free $20 blackjack bet and a free buffet coupon. --Personal experience submitted by Ronda
What's a players club card, you ask? It's your ticket to free stuff and discounts. Click this link for more information.
Sign up for a Players Club card at any of the following casinos. Visit the websites to find out about each casino's Players Club program and unique point system.
With a Fun Book, you can get free or discounted food and drinks, discounts on shows, tickets to participate in some shows, and free slot plays.
Las Vegas hotels and casinos have more to offer than gambling. Click the link above to look for shows that you have always wanted to see and find out what's available.
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Comments to date: 4. Page 1 of 1.
Sep 3, 2012
Thanks for the great advice, A friend & I are going to Vegas this coming Sat AM for 5 nites, we definately are looking for free/cheap things to do!
Aug 14, 2012
actually her advice is spot on! Not everyone has to live extravagant. I've been to Vegas numerous times and there are many ways to be frugal. Go to Nathans inside casino royale and get their 1.99 hot dog and drink combo...its huge and delicious. Also, play their free slot machine outside and ge... read more »
Jan 31, 2012
this is terrible advice. leave it to someone from slc to think it is a good idea to walk around the outskirts of the strip.
Nov 25, 2008
Thanks for the money saving tips.