On a recent road trip across the country, my car broke down just outside of Las Vegas. Upon inspection, the whole engine needed replacing. It would take a week (it needed to be custom ordered) and cost more than I had budgeted for the entire trip. As a result, I had a week to kill and no cash. I was forced to ferret out some pretty good deals. It turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me, and I had a fantastic week, sleuthing about for the best experiences possible. While I hope you don’t face the sort of financial hardships, I do hope that you can use my experience to cut down on your expenses while getting the most out of your visit to Sin City.LodgingThere are a lot of ways to stretch a dollar in Vegas, both on and off the strip. Given how much of most travel budgets go to lodging, the budget traveler would do well to maximize your fun outside of your accommodations, and allow themselves to settle for safety, a roof and a bed. Remember that, like any city, there are good neighborhoods and bad. If you’re really up for an adventure, the roof should be optional, but not the safety. Pay attention to reviews and advice when looking for cheap digs.CampingWe don’t think of Lost Wages as a town big on roughing it, and there’s a reason for that. While car, tent, and RV camping do provide the potential cash savings that they offer to travelers everywhere, Vegas campgrounds are much like the rest of the city – overdone! Try these two options as a start:– Circus Circus RV Park
Circus Circus offers the only camping on the strip. While the “campground” is mostly just a parking lot, it’s tucked right up against the hotel proper, and is an official KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) campground, meaning it’s held to the same high standards as KOA campgrounds everywhere.– Las Vegas RV Resort
Being a bit farther from the strip, the Las Vegas RV Resort has room to spread out a little more than Circus Circus, and is easier on the eyes. That said, you don’t go to Vegas to kick around the campground all day, so it’s up to you what sort of premium you put on looks.Hotel AccommodationsMost any budget travel site will be able to hook you up with reviews for specific hotels, discounts, and even online reservations, so I won’t spend a lot of time pointing out options here. If you’ve never been to Las Vegas before, you may not realize the difference between being close to the strip, and being further from it. Long walks, expensive taxi rides, and even the atmosphere all detract from a budget experience in Vegas. Consider value-added services such as courtesy shuttles to be well worth an extra dollar or two per night – especially if you intend to have a drink or two as you enjoy your vacation.FoodBuffets are the name of the game for the budget traveler in Las Vegas, and you could have a buffet meal three times a day for a week in Las Vegas within a three block area, and never eat at the same place twice. Plan on paying between $5 and $15 per person, per meal, if you decide to go the buffet route, but there are some pretty great tips for keeping your costs low:– Accept every coupon you’re offered. While walking around Las Vegas, a million people will offer to hand you fliers and coupons. In most cities, you’d likely wave them off and walk on by. In Las Vegas, you should accept every one of them, as there are some great 2-for-1 and other deals to be had if you’re willing to sort through the junk. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into conversations – just take what folks have to give, and move along.– Cut back to two meals per day. Almost every buffet is an all you can eat meal – they’re much larger meals than you likely eat every day. Sit, eat slowly, and enjoy. Have a late breakfast and then truck on through to dinner. You’ll get plenty to eat, cut a third out of your meal budget, and have more time to gamble, check out shows, and see the town.– For a quickie meal, check out the Slots-A-Fun Casino at 2890 Las Vegas Boulevard South. They have huge hot dogs for under a buck, and equally cheap lemonade and soft drinks. A great place to fortify yourself in a hurry.EntertainmentWhen you’re combing your coupon piles for food, keep an eye out for shows, too. Without coupons, a serious budget traveler won’t be off to see Penn and Teller or Cirque du Soleil. There is some good news, though. The amount of quality free entertainment to be had in Las Vegas is unrivalled. Check out some of the following:– The Treasure Island casino offers a fantastic pirate-themed show, complete with cannons and bodices, several times a day. The schedule is posted right on the sidewalk and changes from time to time.– The Famous Fremont Street Experience is essential to any visit to Sin City. The lights and sounds from this amazing canopy simply boggle the mind.– Throughout the day on the midway stage above the floor at Circus Circus are a number of circus-themed acts. Some of the best juggles, tightrope walkers, trapeze artists, and magicians perform for free. Circus Circus tends to draw a lot of families, so if you don’t like kids, this may not be your first choice.– The Mirage offers more free entertainment than most anywhere else on the strip. Check out a 20,000-gallon aquarium, a white tiger habitat, an amazing volcano show, and a tropical rain forest all in one place.– Caesar’s Palace has several animatronic displays taking place all day for gawkers to enjoy. The décor alone is worth a visit.Obviously a town as jam-packed full of fun as Vegas, there is nearly no limit to the options available to a budget traveler. Hopefully these tips will help you to make the most of your time there!