Las Vegas: The Dos & Don’ts!
Las Vegas is sometimes presented as the land of all that is tacky & unholy, or simply as a place that wayward couples elope to in order to get hitched by a pudgy Elvis impersonator. However, I think this representation is a little unfair & definitely untrue. I have been to the city three times now, each time better than the last, & every time I’ve been, I was with a girlfriend! I think Las Vegas is a FANTASTIC place to go with your best friend for a girl’s weekend. It’s the perfect getaway. It’s so ridiculous & over-the-top & opulent that all your “real world” stresses will melt away in a swirl of hallucinatory wallpaper & sparkling chandeliers!
It’s also a great place to go for a girl feeling a bit low on self-esteem. If your best friend just got dumped by a stinker, take her to Las Vegas! Men in Las Vegas are REALLY friendly & actually, quite charming. (Shocking but true!) I always thought that men would ignore me in Las Vegas since I am not an “enhanced” type, but actually, the opposite is true! It is quite refreshing. (Plus, most people are wearing shorts with flip-flops, so if you dress up even a little bit, you will be noticed!)
Here’s my list of dos & don’ts for a rad girl’s getaway!
DO: Stay somewhere in the middle of the Strip if you can!
Jess & I stayed at Caesars Palace, & it was fantastic. I have previously stayed at the Sahara & Hard Rock Hotel, but Caesars Palace is my favourite by a mile! The Sahara is not very fancy & Hard Rock, while cool, is a long way from the action!
Caesars Palace was great for us because it’s in the middle of the Strip, they have lots of great shopping right in the complex, the pools are a scene unto themselves & the price was definitely right. Our room was fabulous, too.
Give some serious thought to where you want to stay, & spend some time finding the best deal. Where you rest your head will depend on your budget, obviously, but you should think about what you want to do while you’re in Vegas, & let that determine your decision too.
DO: Secure a reservation package which works for you.
Jess & I booked a deal which included two 24-hour buffet passes, & while at first the idea made us cringe (the buffets in Las Vegas can be terrifying), it actually turned out to be a wonderful thing. Food can be expensive in Vegas, especially on the Strip, because they know they can charge a premium for it.
There are lots of amazing deals to be had & a huge selection of packages available. There will definitely be something which suits you & your interests — you just need to invest a little time & look around for it. Make friends with Google & it will reward you!
DO: Be smart when you book!
There are a lot of websites that you can use to get a great deal on a room! I don’t think I have ever booked a hotel (or a flight) through that hotel or airline’s direct website. You will rarely get the best deal, & who wants to spend more money than they need to? I would rather spend it on SHOES or something!
Whenever I travel, I always, always, always start at Kayak, which has been my saving grace more times than I can count. (They should sponsor me, for real!) It brings up all the available prices on flights & hotels & automatically checks & compares Orbitz, Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity & Hotwire, too, which is brilliant.
Shop around a little. It doesn’t cost anything to do so, & could save you a bundle!
DO: Go with someone who has a similar agenda to you.
My idea of a great holiday is one with lots of shopping, some time in the sun, a couple of spa treatments, & getting dressed up at night. Not everyone thinks like this, however! There’s nothing worse than going on a trip with someone who wants to do something completely different — it can kind of ruin the whole thing. The idea is to spend time together, after all, & if you can’t agree on activities, or one of you is being dragged around against their will, it’s not going to be a holiday worth savouring.
A lot of people want to go to Vegas to booze it up & gamble, & I can’t think of anything worse! Make sure you & your travel buddy agree on what you want to do before you get there!
DO: Expect to spend some time exploring the Strip!
One of the essential things you must do when you go to Las Vegas is spend some time wandering back & forth between the casinos. While this doesn’t sound totally thrilling at first blush (especially if you’ve never been there), it is fantastic fun. All the casinos have different themes. New York New York has a miniature NYC skyline & a roller coaster. The Venetian has gondoliers who will paddle you around & sing to you, the MGM Grand is themed like the Wizard Of Oz & has a lion exhibit, & the Luxor is shaped like a pyramid & has a laser in the top of it which costs $51/hour to run — & can be seen from space.
Every hotel is totally tricked out with restaurants, entertainment, & unusual things to see & do, all in the efforts of getting you to stick around & gamble a little bit. They are like miniature amusement parks & will blow your mind. Wandering the Strip is one of the most fun things to do… EVER.
DON’T: Only pack high heels!
Yes, it is totally acceptable to stumble around Las Vegas in sequins at 7 in the morning. Seriously, don’t worry about it. But if you forget to pack good shoes, you will be in so much anguish you won’t know what to do with yourself. The Strip is IMMENSE, & it always takes longer to get from A to B than you initially anticipate. Expect to do much, much walking.
Jess wore flip flops everywhere (smart girl), & I took sandals with a wedge heel, but after a little while, I was in complete agony. It’s impossible to be happy if you have sore feet, so please see me as a cautionary tale! I ended up buying really ugly flip flops which I hate wearing, but at least I wasn’t in pain any more.
Heed my warning! Take shoes you really can walk MILES in! (Perhaps a pair of jolly good insoles, too.)
DO: Psych yourself up before you get there!
I vote that you watch The Hangover or National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation before arrival. You could go for Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas too if you’re planning on having a messy time. It’ll all help get you into the right mindset, & excite you about what’s coming next!
DO: Ask for what you want!
I had a tremendous string of good fortune in Las Vegas & I know a huge part of that can be attributed to the fact that I approached people & asked them for what I wanted!
Tell the concierge what you’d like to do while you’re in town, or ask the person who checks you in for activity suggestions. Approach the staff in retail stores & enquire about their favourite things to do. Use Twitter to reach out to your social network & see if anyone can hook you up with something or someone fantastic.
The way I see it, if you don’t ask for what you want, you end up with an average experience. Sure, it might be okay, but wouldn’t it be GREAT if you actually got what you REALLY wanted? Just like with the previous point, it doesn’t cost anything to ask! The worst thing that can happen is someone will turn you down, but you will be surprised how often you’ll receive exactly the information or help you want!
DO: Dress up!
In the land of psychedelic carpets & continually blinking lights, “too much” is never enough. Bring your sequins, your rhinestones & your highest heels! Don’t forget your eyelash glue either, like I did! (Why, God, why?!)
Las Vegas can be exhausting, & if you’re in the midst of a shopping frenzy (like Jess & I were), plan ahead of time that you’ll do it up for one night. Our last night in the city was the one where we got really dressed up, had an amazing meal, walked around, gambled a little & went to Pure. It was fantastic!
DO: Cast aside modesty & spend some time poolside.
Don’t be shy! Las Vegas is not all waifs with breast implants — not by a long shot. It is full of all kinds of body shapes & sizes, & no one seems to give a fig (which is as it should be!). I usually loathe being seen in public in a swimsuit, but in Las Vegas, it is really so laid back that your neuroses are a waste of time. Men go to dinner wearing Speedos here!
The pools in Las Vegas are phenomenal, too, & if you skip them, you really will be missing out! My favourite pool scenes are at the Hard Rock Hotel & Caesars Palace. Neither of them are intimidating & they’re both expansive & fabulous.
Anyway, you’re on HOLIDAY. Catch some rays for crying out loud, but don’t forget the sunblock! You don’t want to turn into a lizard person.
DO: Have your makeup done for a night out!
There’s a MAC Cosmetics inside Caesar’s Palace, & multiple Sephora locations. If you’re planning a big, wonderful night, why not have a pro do your makeup for you? They do an amazing job, & your makeup won’t slide down your face in the 100° heat by the time you’re done eating dinner. Bonus!
Even better, makeup application at MAC only costs $50 & usually includes a free tube of mascara! Nice one. Do it!
DON’T: Skip your skincare routine!
Going from the extreme heat outside to the frigidity of the casinos, passing through momentous plumes of smoke & eating insane combinations of food (oh, buffet) will play havoc with your skin!
Please remember to remove your makeup every night, no matter how boozed you may be! Use a washcloth to exfoliate, remember to apply your usual gamut of creams & lotions, & again, drink plenty of water. I didn’t, & I paid dearly for it!
DO: Embrace being a tourist!
The first time we left our hotel room, Jess insisted we stop & get enormous glasses of frozen strawberry daiquiri. They are so tacky, but it was hilarious, & you only live once!
Look, if you’re on the Strip, you’re clearly a tourist (unless you’re one of those guys who hands out cards with girls pictures on them). You might as well relish the fact. Just go with it!
DO: Use social media to your advantage.
Follow the hotel you’re staying at on Twitter. They often tweet special events, last minute deals & other juicy tidbits which are totally worth knowing about!
You can almost think of Twitter as a digital concierge. Good hotels will help you out as much as they can. Whoever mans Caesar’s Palace’s Twitter page was great to us — they hooked us up with email addresses for PR contacts, retweeted pictures we took & put us on the guestlist for Pure.
Definitely worth doing.
DO: Watch the Bellagio fountain show.
It really is beautiful & quite incredible. I had only walked past it on the way to other things the last two times I was in town, but this time, I stopped to watch the entire show. It’s amazing.
DO: Be charming at all times!
People in Las Vegas love to please, but if you act like a surly brat, they will be less inclined to give you a helping hand! If, on the other hand, you go out of your way as much as THEY do to be pleasant, charming & friendly, they will treat you better than you could possibly imagine.
I used my charm skills in Las Vegas to upgrade our suite, obtain contacts for multiple clubs, get discounts & complimentary spa treatments. Just smile & make conversation! It will take you a long way.
DON’T: Substitute alcohol for water!
Even though you are being encouraged to drink alcohol at every turn, & even though you are allowed to carry alcohol everywhere, Las Vegas is a desert! Please keep this in mind! Alcohol will affect you really quickly, so you need to be extra-careful to look after yourself. Vegas might seem like a playground, but it still has hazards (like cars, pickpockets & ungentlemen).
Additionally, even though you’ll probably be spending most of your time inside, they have the air conditioning cranked up so high that it will dehydrate you in no time flat. If you don’t drink enough water, you will feel dizzy, sick, headachey & exhausted. None of those things equate to a good time in Vegas!
DON’T: Forget to carry cash!
Many of the cabs to & from the airport don’t have credit card machines — shocking, I know — so if you don’t have any cash, you’re going to have an issue when it comes time to pay! This is not to mention the fact that you will need to tip housekeeping, people who bring your suitcases to the room, room service, et al.
Vegas runs on the green stuff, so keep it on you at all times.
DO: Take your good camera!
If you have a camera which is good in low light, take it to Las Vegas with you! Las Vegas is exceptionally photogenic & utterly unlike anywhere else.
The light can be really tricky there & a cheap camera won’t be able to do what you want it to. If your camera is flailing around trying to focus, & everything is coming out grainy or blurry, you’ll be totally frustrated. You know you’re going to want a good photo of you with the Strip behind you, so don’t leave your camera at home!
DON’T: Get so distracted you forget to take photos!
Las Vegas is full of strange sights & unbelievable ensembles, but don’t let it dissuade you from getting some snaps of your holiday! You’ll treasure the pictures forever, so remember to take some — & don’t be shy about asking your friend to get a shot of your outfit, either!
DO: Take the monorail if you can!
There’s a monorail which runs between several of the major hotels, & if you’re staying in one of the hotels along the route, it is absolutely the best way to get around. Especially if you’re wearing heels or are otherwise tuckered out!
It can be quite hilarious, too. Nubby & I had an amazing experience on the monorail when a fellow passenger starting pole-dancing for us!
DO: Throw some Band-Aids in your purse.
Just in case you get a blister from walking too much. Nothing will throw a spanner in the works like feet which are suddenly out of commission!
DON’T: Worry if you’re not interested in gambling!
Gambling is totally not necessary to have a good time in Las Vegas. In all my visits, I only gambled on this last one, & I spent $2 in a slot machine before giving up. Haha! My lack of interest in gambling has never affected my time there, so don’t worry about that!
DO: Read up on Las Vegas before you go!
It’s a really incredible place, & one of the most fabulous things about it is that it is constantly evolving. Most of the hotels used to be something else, & they were something else before that, too. You’d never know when you walk through them, though.
Need somewhere to start? Wikipedia is a great resource. Check out the list of Las Vegas casinos that never opened. This is totally fascinating to me, especially because as Jess & I walked around, we discussed what kind of casino we would open if we had land on the Strip. All the ideas are so amazing — a Titanic resort? A lunar-themed hotel called Moon? A country music or Harley-Davidson themed casino? Amazing!
Look up where you intend on staying, too. You will probably discover something incredible about the property that you would otherwise never have known!
About The Venetian:
The resort opened on May 3, 1999 with flutter of white doves, sounding trumpets and singing gondoliers, with actress Sophia Loren joining The Venetian Chairman and Owner, Sheldon G. Adelson, in christening the first motorized gondola. Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, it was one of the most expensive resorts of its kind when it opened.
About Wynn Las Vegas:
XS is the new flagship of Encore’s nightlife scene and one of the most extravagant in the United States. Bottle service includes a $15,000 cocktail.
I mean, really.
DO: Take a moment to appreciate the incredible architecture & madness of the whole thing!
…’Cause there’s nowhere else like it.
DO: Realise that Vegas is Vegas!
The trick to enjoying Vegas is to take it as it comes. Some people dislike Las Vegas, but I think this is because they want it to be something else.
Vegas is Vegas! You have to accept it as it is. Don’t expect it to be anything else. Take it at face value, & drink it all in. If you do, you will have an incredible time!