Monday, September 7, 2009

Vegas Trips on a Budget - Part 3 of 9: Transportation

This is the third installment in my series of money-saving tips and suggestions for adding a little frugality to your Las Vegas trips. This list is not complete by any means; rather, it is meant to give you some ideas for your own trip and encourage you to look for ways to make some money-saving choices of your own.


Share a taxi - Been chatting with someone on the plane? If you're heading to the same location and feel comfortable traveling with someone else, you should consider sharing the cost of a cab ride to your hotel destination. If you choose to do this, though, please be safe! Follow your instincts about sharing a cab with a stranger. If you're not comfortable with them, don't get into a cab with them. Ever.

Study rental car prices before your trip - So you've booked a car for your trip a couple of months in advance. Don't stop looking at those rental car prices! Rental rates are known to change from week-to-week and sometimes from day-to-day. Re-booking your rental is a smart way to save some cash if you see the price go down significantly. Of course, make sure that you're not paying a cancellation fee, or the savings could be negated.

Think about the airport shuttles - This is probably your cheapest option, but the time involved to get all the passengers and their luggage loaded, make the stops at ALL the hotels for the other guests before you get to your hotel (and it always seems like yours is the last stop), unload the people and their luggage, and get underway again could be considerable. Give yourself at least an hour and a half for the trip, but don't be surprised if the trip takes longer because of any holiday or rush hour traffic you may have to contend with.

Consider a rental car if you're staying downtown or far off-Strip - The cost of a cab ride to the downtown area or to one of the farther out hotels is very high; think along the lines of at least $30-$40, depending on where you're staying. Plus, you'll get there much quicker than taking a shuttle from the airport. For the price of a taxi ride from the airport (and the one you'll eventually take back to the airport for your flight home), you could rent a compact car and save money on all the potential cab rides to your other planned destinations, which could really add up and put a big strain on your finances.

Use the bus to get around - Using the CAT bus or the Deuce on the Strip is a great way to get around very cheaply, especially if you get a 24-hour bus pass. Again, don't forget to check out Dewey's bus tips to make sure you've got everything covered:

Take the monorail - In my "Seven Ways to Get Around Vegas" post a few days ago, I mentioned the monorail and how a lot of people forget about it or give it a bad rap. A 24-hour pass or 3-day pass is very affordable if you do a lot of traveling from one end of the Strip to the other. The walk involved to get to the monorail stations is a good way to stretch your legs, so don't complain; you know you need the exercise.

Consider renting a limo for parties of 7 or more - The biggest cabs in Vegas can only hold 6 people maximum, but most of them are only able to hold 5. If you have a larger party, you're going to have to split up to get to your destination. Whether you pre-book a limo from the airport or decide to take a limo from one end of the Strip to another when you go out to a nice restaurant with your party, a limo could be more affordable than two taxis. From the airport, you're looking at about $50 + a tip; from the valet area of any of the major hotels, it'll probably be about $35 + tip as the limo drivers are always willing to negotiate if they're not waiting for someone else. Plus it's a comfortable, relaxing, and affordable way to ride if you split the cost per person.

Use the free hotel shuttles for the outlying casinos - Also mentioned in my "Seven Ways to Get Around Vegas" post was a link to the free shuttles that are currently running between hotels, and here it is again for your convenience: In addition to those, there's a free shuttle from the Fashion Show Mall to the new M Resort that you can use - schedule provided by LV4E member 2Westie here: Be aware that this shuttle is subject to availability; in other words, if the seats are filled by M Resort guests, you'll have to wait for the next one.

Walk - You'll save money and get lots of fresh air and exercise. Yes, even on vacation. I've said it before, this is my primary way for getting around the Las Vegas Strip. Why? I can go at my own pace, I can stop and take pictures and videos along the way, I get to people-watch, I can stop and gamble if I find something interesting to play, and I can generally just enjoy the scenery. It's not a bad way to get around, and it's preferable to me when making a trip that's at a bit of a distance but not worth wasting cab money on. And when going solo, it's a great way to kill some time and work up an appetite for the next great buffet or free drink. Make sure you have comfortable shoes and keep yourself hydrated when you walk in Vegas day or night and you'll have a great time.

Again, there are lots of other ways to get around Vegas, so look into some of your favorites and see if there are discounts or coupons you could use to get a break on the money you'd probably like to spend elsewhere on your vacation. Above all, do what is good for YOU, and enjoy your time in Sin City.

Next up: Food deals and ways to save when eating in Vegas.

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