Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vegas On the Cheap

My daughter jokingly calls me Cheapee McCheap because I turn over every stone for a bargain. How about a wedding and a honeymoon to an exotic locale for under $2000? It can be done because I did it. Here’s how I did it. We decided on small wedding since we were no longer spring chickens. We also decided on Vegas because my fiancĂ© always wanted to visit.

First step was to check out the flights. I couldn’t find any non-stop inexpensive flights on all the travel sites, so I went directly to the airline sites that often have web only deals. I found a round trip non-stop Southwest flight from the East Coast to Vegas for only $400 a person with two free bags checked per person. Ambassador shuttle service picked us up at the airport for a mere $13 a person.

The hotel which is billed as Vegas’s biggest bargain by NY Times is Bill’s Gambling Hall. It is located across from the pricey Bellagio, which gives you an excellent view of the water show. The rooms are modest, but hotels charging twice as much have the exact same rooms. At Bill’s, we get the free Elvis show, plus an eight dollar steak and eggs breakfast.

The secret to doing Vegas cheap is to by ahead, and online. The reason is once you get there everything is full price. Some resort destinations have great deals once you get there, but Vegas vendors are counting on people thinking this way. My big tips came from reading reviews on Travel Advisor.

Groupon offers great Vegas deals, and daily deals if you bring your computer. I bought the Vegas Entertainment book for only $15, plus free shipping and saved hundreds on meals alone since all the coupons we used were buy one get one free meals. Buying a bus pass will also save you money and give your tired feet a rest too. Vegas Strip hotels are filled with free shows to attract the tourist to their hotel. Take advantage of these wonders from a Circus at Circus Circus to an ocean battle at Treasure Island.

If you’re booking a show, go for a tried and true one like Penn and Teller. The prices are much better and you’re guaranteed a good time. Don’t settle for the first website either. Shop around. I usually ask for promo codes on Google, so I can get better deals. I managed to book a tour of the Grand Canyon and tickets to a Beatles Tribute Show buy doing this by more than 50% under price. Now it did help, we weren’t going into what is considered their peak season when all the kids are out of school.

Even got an amazing deal on the Graceland Wedding Chapel by booking ahead since many Vegas weddings are spur of the moment affairs. Merchants reward people who willingly book ahead with lower prices and upgrades. Can you imagine a wedding with the traditional flowers, church, minister, limo and cake for little more than $300? Add to that Elvis crooning your favorite songs, a photographer with a photo package, and a wedding coordinator too. All recorded on a DVD we can force our friends back home to watch.

With everything slashed to rock bottom prices, I splurged on wedding hair and makeup, not too much though. We even had money left to gamble. That’s doing Vegas on the cheap, baby.

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