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So you are planning a trip to Vegas? We’re so jealous! Vegas is our favorite destination and our pick for nearly every kind of trip. But nothing can put a damper on your perfect Vegas getaway like forgetting some of the basics when planning and packing for your trip.

We know what you need to ensure you have a successful trip because we’ve made every mistake in the book. I’ve spent one too many nights sitting in my room waiting for my phone to charge before heading to dinner to know that no Vegas trip is complete without a portable cellphone charger! I ended up buying a portable iPhone and Apple Watch charger with built-in charging cord that will charge my phone 4 time on a single charge. Money can’t buy you love, but it can keep you our and about longer in Vegas!

Without further ado, here’s The Dent’s Ultimate Vegas Getaway Planning & Packing Guide for 2019.

Bring Cash, Including Small Bills

Bring Cash. Vegas is one of the few places in your daily life where cash is still king, especially if you gamble. But even if not, smalls bills for tips (“free” drinks, bags, etc.), rides (bus, monorail), and other activities is always helpful. The casinos know this and are very good at helping you part with your hard-earned cash. ATM fees are upwards of $8-10 on the strip.

I love getting a handful of $2 bills to use for tipping. It’s something a little different and catches the attention. I find that often times a $2 bill tip at in the casino will help me get the waitress back much quicker because its something different. Plus, it’s always a conversation starter if your sitting at the table and have a $2 bill sitting out waiting to tip.


Don’t Spend It All in One Place

Remember when you were young and you got $1 and whoever gave it to you told you not to spend it all in one place? How’d that work out? We need a plan to ensure that cash lasts.

Now that you have a wad of cash, be smart with it. One of our favorite tricks is the envelope system. If you’re going to be in Vegas for 4 nights and you bring $500 in cash, we’d get $100 in small bills ($1/$2/$5) and then put $100 each in 4 envelopes. Before you go out to gamble for the night, grab one envelop. Once the money is gone, you stop gambling.

IMPORTANT: If you win, you put at least the money you won (in this case $100) back in the envelop and take that home. This ensures you don’t run out of cash on day 2 and makes sure you don’t blow the winnings from a hot streak. I am happy to leave with the same amount I came with, so this system at least gives me a chance.

One tweak to that trick is adding one extra envelope with some amount as my woodshed fund. Why woodshed? Because if a dealer takes me out to the woodshed and beats me up, I can grab a little extra for the night. I usually find that I start at least one of my nights with a painful cold streak. If I run out of funds, I at least have to walk back to the hotel room and clear my head before starting back again with my woodshed funds.





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Get a Haircut, Do Your Laundry, Hit the Drycleaners

Okay, so maybe you don’t need a hair cut or the dry cleaners, but I do. Do you need a new swimsuit (it is pool season, after all)? Nows the time. Do you have a good, comfy pair of shoes? You’ll need those. Do you have your favorite pair of shorts, “Vegas shirt“, or cocktail dress clean? Double check!

Here’s a list of things that we have forgotten before taking a trip: Sunglasses, sunscreen, comfy shoes, swimsuits, sports coat, condoms, undergarments, my entire dry cleaning order, bathroom essentials, socks, sandals, shorts, pajamas, and basically everything in between. Some of these are easy enough to replace, but everything is a little more expensive in Vegas and every dollar you send on a new pair of sunglasses because you got put on the porch, the less you have to gamble and drink.

Basically, don’t be like me and always wait till the night before to start thinking about these things and don’t forget the basics. Start now and make sure you have nothing to worry about besides catching your flight.

Don’t Forget The Vegas Essentials

If you haven’t heard, the Vegas strip is way longer than it looks. If you want to walk from Mandalay Bay to the Wynn, it’s 2.8 miles. But you will be going up and down escalators, dodging hoards of people, and walking through a maze of casino floors (especially in the summer when it’s 110 degrees). This means that 2.8 miles, 58-minute walk acroding to Google Maps could take you multiple hours.

Not planning on a long haul down the strip? Even if you stay within your casino, it can be quite a truck from the casino floor to your room, especially if you are staying in one of the mega-hotels like The Venetian or notoriously the MGM Grand. You can get your Fitbit steps on the way to breakfast if you get a room at the end of the hall.

So what’s my point? You have to prepare! Portable phone chargers (I take 2-3 every trip) are one of my must-haves when going to Vegas. Nothing puts a damper on the evening like having to trek back to the room and wait for an hour to charge my phone.

It’s also vital to bring comfortable shoes. Vegas is not the place to break-in some new kicks. Sure, wear the new dress shoes or fancy heels to dinner one night, but make sure you have some Clarks or some comfy sneakers for the rest of your adventures.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuits, swimsuit cover, chargers (the kind that go into the wall), lip balm, lotion (it’s the desert after all), ibuprofen and/or your favorite hangover cure, and everything you need for your daily routine. Most of the hotels have nice shampoo, conditioner, and a lotion, but if you’re picky, bring your own.

For clothing, pack layers. You can be bold and bright in Vegas and really anything goes (as long as you’re within dress code). If you want to wear your most exotic shirt, flashy dress, fancy pants, sexiest suit, or velvet shoes, Vegas is the place. Same for the pool, as long as it covers, it’s good to go. So be bold and have a little fun. You are in Vegas after all!

Bring a Hoodie, Sweater, or Light Jacket

Yes, it snowed in Vegas in late February 2019, just weeks before pool season opened. // Photo CNN

Vegas is in the desert, not the equator. It can get chilly at night during much of the year. In the summer, you won’t need a jacket in the 110-degree desert sun, but in the middle of a casino trying to cool a massive area, you may find that there are spots that get a bit chilly.

Also, if you are like me, you put your room to the lowest AC setting in the summer so it’s nice and cold when you come in from the pool, so a sweatshirt could be nice for you or your significant other who doesn’t want to freeze to death.

Overall, it’s easy to try and pack light but make sure you are prepared for anything. Vegas has a way of pushing you in directions you don’t always go, so be prepared with a wardrobe for every occasion.

Understand the Dress Codes

Vegas is a pretty relaxed place and in most places, you can wear about anything. You will find some limitations if you’re in a swimsuit or don’t have shoes, but you can be yourself.

But that’s not always the case. Pool parties and dayclubs are notorious for turning people away for wearing the wrong clothes. Most of the time you must be wearing a swimsuit (no jeans!) and you can’t wear jerseys/sportswear. Often times you also can’t bring in bags, etc.

If you want to go clubbing, take some nice clothes and shoes! Even if you don’t ‘have’ to dress nice for a dinner or the club, it’s Vegas! Go a bit out of your comfort zone and throw on a sports coat or a black dress and heels one night.

Other places where you can get in trouble are nicer restaurants and night clubs. Open toed shoes for men is a big no-no and again sportswear or swimwear are often turned away.

If you want to go to pool parties, clubs, shows, or nice restaurants, make sure you pack options! And before you go, check the dress code! I was unable to get into a dayclub wearing a Pacers jersey, so they can be pretty strict. The last thing you want to do is be turned away from a pool that you just stood in line in the 100 degree heat because you didn’t do your research!

Take an Uber, Lyft, or Limo. Skip the Taxi

Taxis were never an amazing deal in Vegas, but they were always a necissary evil. But with the rise of ride sharing, the Vegas cab drivers have gone off the rails. The last time I took a taxi from the airport in Vegas, she “avoided the traffic” and took us out to the interstate then literally through 2 other casino parking garages before getting us to our hotel $36 later. On the way back to the airport? Our uber was $10.

Skip the taxi. Do Uber or Lyft. In the Vegas airport, ride sharing has special places to pick you up, which makes it easier and ensures you get in the right car! In Terminal 1, head over to T1 Parking and take the elevator up to Level 2M. In Terminal 3, head to T3 Parking and take the elevator down to the Valet Level (V). It’s easier than it sounds and is WELL worth the effort.

Don’t have ride sharing apps? Download uber here and get your first ride free!

If you are uncomfortable with ride sharing or want a special experience, you can also arrive to your hotel in style in a black car or limo! These are (obviously) a bit more expensive, but if you have a group, the cost per person is pretty reasonable.

Presidential Limousine Las Vegas has web specials that include a Escalade SUV Limi for up to 6 people which includes champaign and a return transfer to the airport for $140+Tax+Tip. You can do a black car for $70 which seats 3 people. They also have other options at various price points and features here.

Talk To Your Crew Before You Leave

Don’t let your Allen throw a wrench in your Vegas trip

One thing I would have never considered before I went on my last trip: ask the guys I’m going with what they expect out of this vacation. I went with a few friends that I haven’t seen since college. We always had a great time partying in college, so I assumed we would be on the same page.

Wow, was I wrong! The first sign that this was not what I signed up for is when they got to the room with only a small carry on… for 4 days. This isn’t even a roller bag, just a duffle bag to “save money” and not have to pay for a bag.

These guys didn’t bring a second pair of shoes and only had gym shorts and t-shirts. There would be no nice dinners, no clubs, no pools. Poker rooms and slots are fun, but I want to experience everything Vegas has to offer. Nice steak dinners, awesome shows, nice(r) weather than the midwest, and a club or two to boot.

Luckily I had some other friends in town that I did end up going to nice dinners and a show, but I wouldn’t always have been so lucky. If you haven’t talked about what to expect with your crew, you might not get to do everything you want.

Research Before You Go

The number of options in Vegas can be overwhelming, so if you struggle choosing a place for dinner in Anywhere, USA you are going to have a tough time in Vegas. The larger the group, the harder this can be.

We highly recommend researching before you step on the plane and at least have nailed down a group of options that will help you make your decision. You don’t have to plan an itenerary (I don’t actually recommend this unless that’s your style), but having a list of 5-10 restaurants in different price points (and for breakfast, lunch, brunch, happy hour, dinner, late night) will really help.

Start with your hotel and find the places that fit you best. I actually chose my hotel based on what’s available, because the last thing I want to do at night after a long day in the heat is to hustle down the strip to dinner 30 minutes away every night.

Try to pair some of your nights with places in the same casino or location. For example, on our next trip, we plan on doing dinner at Hell’s Kitchen and then head to the Absinthe show after. It’s tempting to try to do as much as you can, but make sure you can enjoy a drink between dinner and the show and are not running down the strip because your waitress disappeared for a smoke.

Also, know what free shows and exhibits you want to hit up and try to work them in throughout the day. If you want to see the Bellagio conservatory (and pro-tip, you do), hit that up when you’re walking back to the hotel from brunch. If you want to see the Volcano at The Mirage, catch it after dinner. If you want to do the Fountains at the Bellagio, watch them from dinner at Prime Steakhouse.

Researching beforehand will let you know the groups of items you want to do so you can hit what you want and not have to figure out what restaurant is good at Mandalay Bay after taking in the Shark Exhibit or trying to find a show after having dinner at the Wynn.

Another thing you should always check is what is in town during your visit. If you are going during CES in January, you are going to pay much more for rooms and need to get reservations for everything! March Madness in March? It’s the second busiest weekend and parties could be taking over your favorite under-cover spots. Just make sure you understand what’s in town and where it’s centered to ensure you can plan accordingly.

Also, if you’re looking for clubs and parties, be sure to understand what performances will be there while you are in town. If you want to go see a huge act like Drake, The Chainsmokers, Cardi B, Marshmello, or Calvin Harris, you have to plan. If you show up to a club expecting to get in and one of these acts are there, you may be all dressed up with no-where to go.

Overall, the cost and experience will be very different depending on who’s at these clubs, so make sure you know before showing up. We recommend having these type of event planned before you go to ensure have the best expreience.

Check Your Booked Flight Price for Discounts

This is an example of the price drop screen with points, but price also is the same.

This is one I’ve heard about, but never thought it would happen to me until it did. Check your booked flight price to see if it’s changed. I have this nifty app called Trip It Pro (paid, but they have a free version) that sent me an alert last week that my Southwest flight has dropped in price. I went into the Southwest app, “changed” my flight to the same flight and now have $68 to use on my next trip.

It was an awesome little bonus, so definitely take a look. Two weeks out is usually a good time for this to happen.

Sign Up for Rewards Cards & Show Them When You Play or Buy Food

There are lots of programs, all can get you great rewards if you play or buy enough.

Did you know that you can add your food, beverages, and even souvenirs in some cases to your room using your rewards card at many properties if you even if you aren’t staying at the hotel? This is my best trick to ensure I get every single point available to me when I’m in Vegas. If it goes on your room, it will be tracked and counted as tier points to earn you more rewards and comps.

MGM MLife lets you add food, some shopping and gambling to your account at any MGM hotel, which can help you rack up the points. If you’re staying at any MGM property, you can even charge meals at other MGM properties to you room.

The Cosmopolitan’s Identity Rewards is another of my favorites. You earn great points just for dining (and it’s my favorite place to dine), so I got my first Free Night rewards before I ever stayed at the Cosmo just.

All the rewards programs offer this, so be sure to sign up for the card before gambling and ask if they take it for all your food, shopping, and more!

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