TIPS FOR LAS VEGAS – ELIMINATE HASSLE AND FOCUS ON THE FUN
With much of the US in a near unprecedented grip of winter, many minds turn to warm-weather vacations.
Summer remains a few months away, but not in Las Vegas! As resorts begin to prepare for Vegas pool season (as early as March), many travelers will soon make their plans.
With that in mind, we serve up a different kind of list – 5 Things NOT to do in Vegas:
1. Don’t get ‘long-hauled’ by taxis from the airport
We begin with arrival at McCarran Airport. In recent years, a disturbing trend has developed among airport cabs taking passengers on a longer route than necessary to their hotel – a scam known as ‘long-hauling’.
First-time Vegas visitors are the easy targets. Instead of taking travelers directly from the airport to their resort, usually on the east side of the Strip, travelers are taken north and west of the airport, through a connecting tunnel and onto the Freeway (I-15), and then to their destination.
This process can cost a passenger around $25 more than the standard fare, more than doubling the price! For reference, a normal fare from the airport to any major resort should cost around $16-18 dollars, plus tip. It’s also worth noting your fare from the airport will usually be higher than your fare to the airport due to a $2 Nevada state tax on all taxi journeys from McCarran.
Don’t fall victim to the scam. To start, act like it’s all familiar. Even if you’ve never set foot in Vegas, never appear to be a first-timer awed by your surroundings.
Many drivers, when pulling away, will mutter something about ‘construction’ or ‘road repairs’ along main streets intersecting or parallel to the Strip (i.e. Paradise Rd or Harmon Ave), or mention a ‘traffic backup’. Ignore this and insist on the most direct route. Chances are there’s no ‘backup’.
If your driver persists, simply tell them ‘don’t take the tunnel’ That should be enough to let them know you know what they’re up to. At that point, they’ll likely back off.
|Green – the normal distance route to mid-Strip
Black – the long-haul route
2. Always try to upgrade at check-in
We’ve covered this before, and it bears repeating. Las Vegas is as fast-moving and as cash-driven an economy as you’ll ever find. You can often upgrade your room and amenities in most Vegas resorts at very little cost, simply by offering a tip to your check-in attendant.
Known as ‘the sandwich’, a crisp $20 or $50 placed between your driver’s license and credit card at check-in goes a long way, and could mean the difference between an ordinary room or a king-sized suite and hundreds in comped food and beverages on the premises throughout your stay. For additional details, see our earlier article here.
3. Don’t wait in taxi lines at your hotel
You’re with your friends, everyone’s had a few drinks, everyone’s in a good mood. You walk out the door of your hotel and… BAM! You’re faced with a 30 minute cab line. What a buzzkill.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Few people are aware, but you can get a limo – stretch, Escalade, Hummer, etc, for only a few dollars more per person, right out front of your hotel. Just ask any attendant.
While riding in a luxury vehicle is nice, the main perk is you get to skip the line entirely. Most people don’t consider it, assuming a limo will cost hundreds more, but it simply doesn’t. Occasionally, depending on the driver and your negotiating skills, you can even talk down a fare to a lower price than originally quoted.
Five to ten dollars per person to save 30-45 minutes of fun on your vacation? Or standing and sweating in a long line, without even a drink, while waiting to go out? Easy decision.
4. Don’t go to a major club without contacting a host
Lines for major clubs can be HOURS. Unless you know the staff, you’ve booked a table, or you’re a large group of girls, or a guy rolling with a handful of 6 foot models (in which case you don’t need our help), don’t walk up with a huge group to any major club and expect to walk straight in. It doesn’t work that way.
This can go A LOT smoother simply by going through a host. Hosts can easily be found at major Vegas forums online (i.e. Jack Colton), or by going to the club ahead of time in person, introducing yourself and explaining your group would like to attend and avoid the general admission process.
Let us be clear: Your host WILL expect to be taken care of. So tell them you’ll take care of them. That means tipping, probably at least $100. This doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Tough. Again, Vegas is cash driven. Like it or leave it, that isn’t changing anytime soon.
There’s no hard and fast rule for tipping, but a good guideline is the larger the group, the larger the tip. If you have seven guys looking to gain entry to Hakkasan at 1am, and you offer up $100 to a host, you’ll get laughed off the floor.
Finally, and we can’t stress this enough – arrive early. Many hosts can’t devote as much attention to you at 1am when it’s hectic as they can at 11pm. There’s too much going on, so save yourself the hassle.
5. Don’t shop at drugstores on The Strip
Unless you have an AmEx personal concierge, you’ll need to stock your room with supplies – liquor, beer, wine, mixers, snacks, and most important… bottled water.
More than anywhere, it’s vital to stay hydrated in Vegas. And local tap water, while safe, has an off-putting taste to be polite. Bottled water is your lifesaver in Vegas. Make sure there’s plenty.
Location-wise, your closest options on the Strip will likely be CVS near Aria/Monte Carlo or Walgreens at Planet Hollywood. However, these are best avoided – odds are you’ll have a long walk back with a ton of supplies, and will have to return multiple times.
An easier solution? Take care of it first thing. Hit the CVS on the corner of Paradise & Harmon on the way from the airport. Your cab will keep the meter running, but it’s worth the extra $10 bucks to avoid the future hassle of lugging back more supplies.
You’ll also save a good deal of cash. Prices at this CVS – just two blocks off the Strip – are often 30 percent cheaper (or more) than the huge markups on the Strip. If you need to run out to the Strip for emergency supplies, the other stores are always there, open 24/7.
Knowing where to go and what to do on vacation is always important, but so is knowing what to avoid. Steer clear of these five pitfalls and your next Vegas trip is bound to have less hassle and a lot more fun.