Las Vegas is flashy. Lights, casinos, entertainment, food, alcohol, nightclubs…basically, Vegas is full of all the things that cost money. A lot of money.
Most people go to Las Vegas with the intention of splurging. It’s all about having fun and indulging. People love the flash–they want to feel rich and live in the lap of luxury. And Vegas businesses know that, which is why prices are often high.
That’s also why you won’t usually see Las Vegas listed as a budget travel destination.
It can be though. I took a three-day trip to Las Vegas earlier this year, set on making it a super-budget trip. While I didn’t indulge in the partying and gambling, I did have fun. Vegas can be done on the cheap, and it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think.
Keep reading to see how I spent 3 days in Las Vegas for under $300!
My short Vegas vacation began with a flash airline sale from Frontier. When I saw that I could fly to Las Vegas and back for only $60, I booked a ticket immediately. There were only a few dates available for the lowest price, but I had flexibility on my side.
Tip: Check budget airlines, subscribe to flight deal email lists, and jump when you see a good price. The more flexible you are about your destination and dates, the easier it will be to find a good (or amazing) flight deal.
Budget airlines are able to offer super low fares by nickel & diming you for “extras”. I avoided all of the extra fees others may have accrued by leaving my seating fate up to the travel gods–but more importantly, by packing light. Frontier charges for baggage, regardless of whether it’s checked or carry-on. I packed everything I needed into a small tote bag that counted as a “personal item”, so I had no baggage fee.
Tip: If you’re traveling for only a few days, bring the bare minimum. You’ll survive 3 days without outfit options or extra shoes (but bring what you actually need). Also, read airline baggage rules carefully, or you might end up paying higher fees at the gate.
Instead of booking a hotel on the Strip, I chose to stay downtown. I found quite a few accommodation options that were super affordable, but ultimately chose to stay at the Cabana Suites at the El Cortez. For just $42 a night (for 3 nights total), I had a nice room in a cute & stylish boutique hotel.
Tip: Avoid the overpriced trendy hotels on the Strip and find something downtown instead. It’s pretty easy to find hotel rooms under $60/night in Vegas, so don’t waste your money on the lure of luxury.
Spend Your Time (& Money) Wisely
Most people go to Las Vegas to party. That means going out to nightclubs, drinking, and gambling. If that’s why you’re in Vegas, by all means indulge–but that will certainly hike up your budget. I personally avoided all of that stuff, which made it easy to keep my wallet shut.
Tip: If you’re going out in Vegas, set a budget. Limit your drinks, don’t let gambling get out of hand, and in the end…if that doesn’t work, at least you had a good time!
Find the Free Stuff
I spent most of my time in Downtown Vegas, but I did spend a day exploring the Strip as well. Like I said before, there was no gambling or drinking for me, but there’s still plenty of ways to keep busy without spending money. The hotels on the Strip are attractions in and of themselves; just walking through and looking at what’s on offer is a fun way to spend time. Check out the gardens at the Bellagio, watch the famous fountains show, and stroll along the LINQ Promenade. There are so many cool little things to see at the various hotels, so enjoy the fantasy world that is Las Vegas!
Tip: Walking is always free! In any city, take a walk around to explore and see what you find. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon and discover hidden gems.
My Las Vegas Expense Report
This is a list of everything I spent during my three-day trip to Las Vegas. My one splurge was the Neon Museum. I ate at restaurants for every meal, so there are cheap food options available in Vegas.
$60 Round-trip flight from St. Louis to Las Vegas
$126 3 night accommodation
$8 Public transit (buses to & from the Strip + the Airport)
$75 All food & drink
$18 Guided tour at the Neon Museum
Total Spent: $287
This budget might not seem realistic for a lot of people. If you are headed to Vegas specifically to enjoy the nightlife, gambling, and party scene, then consider this bare bones budget a starting point. If you can get all of the necessities (flight, accommodation, food) for under $300, that will free up the rest of your budget for the fun stuff!
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