I have only ever traveled to Las Vegas on business, but because Las Vegas is a 24-hour town, I still got to have the full Las Vegas experience despite (or perhaps because) trade show obligations.
The first thing to remember about Las Vegas is that while gambling isn’t for everyone, it can be for any budget, if you make a budget and stick to it. Most Las Vegas hotel casinos even have slot machines that take dimes and nickels. No, you won’t win big, but you can experience the casino without being worried about spending too much money. Remember that slot machines pay out on timers, not based on how much has been pumped into them. So staying at a machine because you’ve already put a lot into it, or only being willing to play a machine someone has just left are not Las Vegas strategies that really work. Also beware of machines that lure you to put in more coins in hope of bigger prizes. Usually you’ll just lose your money faster. For table games, try blackjack – you have the best odds and minimum bets are about $5. A simple guide to playing blackjack and the simple rules of decision making to follow for the best hope of positive returns can be purchased in just about any convenience store in Las Vegas.
The second thing to remember when in Las Vegas is to never, ever use the cash machine on the casino floor. They can charge withdrawal fees up to $10 and occasionally more.
The third thing to remember is that Las Vegas is a land filled with things that seem like bargains but aren’t. In this case, the cheap food costs too much. Don’t go to diners or bargain buffets – the food isn’t good. You will get what you pay for at expensive restaurants though. The sushi bar at the Luxor is pretty good, and it takes a lot for me to recommend sushi at a location as inland as Las Vegas..
Do remember to visit Las Vegas hotels other than your own. They’re all ridiculous and funny. Although New York, New York, can be annoying to people actually from New York.
Fifth, don’t forget to be a big kid. There are lots of arcades and rides in Las Vegas aimed at people who don’t want to gamble and their families. There are several roller coasters not to be missed, and the Star Trek ride at the Hilton is awesome, even if you’re not a big fan. It’s one of the most intense motion base simulators I’ve been on.
Sixth: Wear comfortable shoes when in Las Vegas. You’ll walk more than you realize, whether it’s along the strip, prowling the casino or just trying to find your way back to your room in a gargantuan hotel.
Seventh: Just because the drinks are free in Las Vegas casinos does not mean you have to keep drinking them. Use common sense. I realize this should be obvious, but when you spend a week at a Las Vegas trade show, you learn very quickly that it isn’t.
Eighth: While it is easy to get married in Las Vegas, it is not as easy as you think. Frequently you need to get the license the day before the wedding – so those stories of people getting drunk and married aren’t entirely true.
This is ninth of my list of Las Vegas things to remember, but it may be the most important. BRING A WATCH. There are no clocks in the Las Vegas casinos to keep you gambling longer. If you’re going to be separated from your group at any time, you must have your own watch or you will be late for your next meeting, no matter how good you think your internal sense of time is. Las Vegas is a bit like the Bermuda Triangle in that way.
Finally, don’t forget there is a world outside your hotel. Bring a swimsuit. It’s warm in Las Vegas, and all the hotels have pools, some of them quite spectacular.