Nestled in the Nevada desert is Las Vegas. Hotels, casinos, nightclubs, and restaurants all vie for space among the neon and glitz in this city of sin. A lot of people don’t like Vegas – the party, the glitz, the expensive resorts, the fancy see and be seen atmosphere. But those people focus on the negatives of Vegas. I am constantly blown away by the city – the amazing mix of restaurants, diners, people, concerts, shows, and events. There is much more to Las Vegas than the Strip. And despite all the wealth on show, it’s pretty easy to pick up freebies in Vegas. Free drinks, meals, show tickets, and reduced accommodation can all be easily had – if you know where to look!
Hostel prices – You can find 6-bed dorms in hostels about 1.5 miles from the Strip for around $20 per night. The best around is called Hostel Cat. A private room will cost around $40-60. These hostels include free linens, free WiFi, free parking, and laundry facilities.
Budget hotel prices – There are plenty of budget hotels and casinos (think Circus Circus) located on the Strip and slightly further afield with prices start from around $40 per night, or closer to $50 on the Strip. Many of the nicer Strip hotels start at around $100 per night with more luxurious hotels like the Bellagio, Venetian, or Aria starting at $150 or more per night. However, casinos offer tons of cheap room rates to get you into their casinos. There is always a deal being offered online so be sure to check before you book. On Airbnb, you can find shared rooms a few streets over from the Strip from $15-25 per night. You can find entire homes in the same areas for around $55 per night.
Average cost of food – Most hotels and casinos have a buffet where you’ll pay $10-25. Outside the casinos, a meal at a sit-down restaurant will be around $25. If you’re eating at a restaurant in the casinos, you’re looking at spending at least $50 per person. If you get a bottle of wine, prices can be as high as $300. But there are also cheaper eateries at casinos, usually casual or to-go dining that’s a bit cheaper (around $15). Towards the middle of the Strip near Ballys, there are a number of cheap chain restaurants like Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Subway where you can find cheap eats. (You can find some of these in the casinos too but they are more expensive.) If you want to save money, get off the Strip! If you cook your own food, expect to pay $50 per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foods.
Transportation costs – In Las Vegas, you have a lot of options for getting around. A free option is taking a casino shuttle. A lot of casinos are owned by the same company and so they’ll offer services to those casinos. It’s a good way to get up and down the Strip and closer to any casinos that are further away without paying. There’s also the Deuce bus, which goes from the Strip to Fremont Street. It’s $8 for a 24-hour ticket. Las Vegas does have a monorail system that will take you down the Strip and stop at various hotels. It costs $15 for a one-day pass (or $5 for one way, $9 for round-trip) but there are also a few free routes depending on your destinations. UberX has a base fare of $1.50 and costs $1 per mile. If you’re renting a car, most casinos offer free parking or free valet (tips are expected).
Suggested daily budget – $40-100 (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel or using hotel points for a cheap room, not gambling a lot, drinking free trips, eating away from the strip, cooking some meals, and using local transportation.)