How I Spent a Week In Las Vegas for Under $500

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Vegas is notorious for being a place where people go to waste away their money and dignity. Every pop culture portrayal of Vegas revolves around someone gambling away their rent deposit, waking up without a wallet, or potentially discovering that they spent the night throwing 100s at strippers.

But in reality, Vegas can actually be kind of cheap. How else are they going to convince people to go there year-round when their main draws are simply partying, gambling, and hookers?

In fact, you can probably spend an entire week in Vegas for under $500. Sound unbelievable? Maybe, but I know it’s possible, because I did it.

Sure, if you’re trying to save money you’re not going to be checking out shows every night or dining out at infamous Vegas buffets, but sometimes you have to pick your battles. Besides, the main reason to go to Vegas in your 20s is to party, which you can do for free. Here’s how I did Las Vegas on a budget, and how you can too.

Do Your Research

Going to Vegas on a whim seems like a good idea at the beginning of a movie, but usually turns out not to be (see: What Happens In Vegas). Since you’re probably not booking a flight to Vegas the night before leaving, spend a reasonable amount of time researching where you want to go and who’s going to get you in, which is where promoters come in.

If you’ve gone out with promoters in NYC or Miami, be aware that Vegas promoters can be a little different. Some of them only work at one or two clubs rather than having a weekly rotation, and they’re a lot less likely to treat you to dinner prior to the club (sadly). Regardless, they’re a good starting point for you to get into the club for free until some reckless bachelor party invites you over to take shots at their table.

Don’t Bring Dudes

The aforementioned bachelors are probs not going to invite you to their table if you have a boy-toy on your arm, sorry. If you want to do Vegas with your boyfriend, expect a pricier trip. If not, go with your girls. You’ll save way more money and have way more fun, because couples are just party poopers, sorry.

That being said, if guys come up to you and ask you to join their table, don’t be weirded out. This is Vegas, everybody wants to make “friends,” everybody suddenly has balls, and everybody is trying to turn up. You don’t owe guys anything, even if you slurp up their alcohol all night. There’s no reason not to be friendly, but if you want to take 10 shots and then ditch the group of dudes for another club, you do you.

Pack Some Snacks

Vegas is known for their over-the-top restaurants and buffets, but if you want to save money, you’re probs going to need to pass on them. Maybe reserve one night for going all-out at a bougie restaurant, or just take the opportunity when some guy wants to take you out to a Wolfgang Puck restaurant at 3 a.m. like I did.

Otherwise, I packed the entire front pocket of my suitcase with snacks in the form of Luna bars, applesauce cups, and oatmeal packets. Yes, I got really sick of eating sweet stuff by day three, but between the chicken tenders and nachos that were served at the day-party cabanas and my own snack stash, I made it work. Besides, by not gorging on tons of food I felt way more confident rocking a thong bikini to a pool party at the end of the week, whereas normally I feel bloated af by the end of a vacation.

Yes, I almost got stopped at security in the airport where they questioned my applesauce cups, but it was well worth the money I saved by only eating out three times (one time was In N’ Out, which was almost worth it).

Phone A Friend

People that live in Vegas might as well be part-time Airbnb owners, because they’re always getting visitors. If you have any friends in Vegas, ask them if you can stay with them. Seriously, me and my two friends ended up staying with a guy that one of my friends met at Ultra. Sure, it was random and kind of sketch, but it was free and we could have booked a hotel if things got weird (lots of hotels offer cheap-ass prices the day of). We all went in on a $150 gift card for him and cleaned his place to thank him, but that was a small price to pay for a place to sleep all week in Vegas.

Accept That You’ll Spend Money on Transport

Besides the aforementioned gift card and the three meals “out” (and by out I mean Subway), the only place I really dropped money was on transportation. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a way to scheme my flight for free (it was about $350 and I only purchased a few weeks in advance). I also spent a lot of money on Uber and Lyft while in Vegas. Unfortunately, our free place to stay was super close to the strip, but across the highway, and Vegas is not exactly a walking city. You can try walking but you’ll prob get creeped on by dudes in every car that passes like my friend and I did when we trekked the five minutes to In N’ Out.

Go With The Flow

Planning ahead of time is good, but it’s easier to go with the flow once you get to Vegas. We always kept the promoters as back-up plans, but if the guy we were staying with or people we met the night before invited us somewhere the next day, we went with them. Being spontaneous (as long as you don’t get married) is more fun. Plus if you’re in a big group you can split the Ubers or potentially get a ride fo free. Besides, partying with real people is always more fun than partying with a promoter and 20 girls who death glare you, right?

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