If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to go read that one first.
Yesterday in Part 1 of this series, I told you all about MyVEGAS rewards. Today I will tell you about some of the good things we used our rewards on this year and the past 2 years. In no particular order, here is a list of all the things my fiance and I redeemed through our MyVEGAS rewards in just 3 trips (1 per year) to Las Vegas (some repeat due to different years or being purchased on each of our accounts):
- $50 Freeplay at Excalibur
- 2 Free dinner buffets at Luxor
- 2 Free Shark Reef passes at Mandalay Bay
- 2 for 1 dinner buffet at Excalibur
- 2 for 1 dinner buffet at Luxor
- $50 Freeplay at Excalibur
- Dark chocolate bar at HEXX inside Paris
- BOGO 1lb bulk candy at HEXX inside Paris
- 2 for 1 dinner buffet at Excalibur
- 2 Secret Garden passes
- $25 freeplay at Excalibur
- BOGO 2 day monorail passes (2 passes good for 2 people for 2 days)
- Dark Chocolate bar at HEXX inside Paris
- 2 for 1 Roller coaster passes at NYNY
- 2 for 1 dinner buffet at Excalibur
- 1 Free roller coaster pass at NYNY
- 1 All day roller coaster pass at NYNY
- 2 for 1 dinner at Luxor
- 2 for 1 Madame Tussauds wax museum admission
- 2 for 1 lunch buffet at Bellagio
- 2 for 1 Criss Angel Mind Freak Live tickets
- 2 for 1 lunch buffet at Mandalay Bay
- 2 for 1 roller coaster passes at NYNY
First let’s talk about food and drinks. As I said in Part 1, 2 people could easily spend $30 for one daily meal at a food court in any hotel on the strip or $30+ per person to eat at a buffet. Yes they have all day buffet passes you can buy, but you are looking at around $95 for 1 day buffet passes for 2 people. If you drink alcohol, be prepared to pay more than you would at the average bar at home. Yes it is true that you can get free drinks if you are gambling, BUT you have to be lucky enough to already be playing a machine when a cocktail waitress comes around or they will ignore you. Even if you do get to order a drink, you’d better hope you don’t run out of money in the machine before she returns, and she will expect a tip of course. In my 3 trips, I have gotten 1 drink while playing slots, but I am also not a big gambler. I prefer to play with freeplay from the casinos. If you don’t have $300 or more per day to eat and drink off of, I’m here to tell you how to budget and make it work! Before we get started, enjoy this little slideshow of pics we have snapped over the years.
So now you want to know how to eat, drink, and still save in Las Vegas? Well first it is important to know that the hotels and motels on and around the strip, do not have the usual things you are used to in even the cheapest place. There are no coffee pots, no mini fridges, no microwaves. Why? Because they want you to buy everything at their over inflated prices. Many don’t even have bath tubs, just showers. How you get there is also going to factor in. For example, if you drive, you can bring your ice chest, microwave, coffee pot, George foreman grill or whatever with you. You can always get ice from the ice machines and keep some lunchmeat or milk for cereal cold. If you fly, pick an airline that won’t charge for checked bags unless they are oversized or overweight. Southwest airlines is who we like to fly because they allow us 2 checked bags each up to 50lbs per bag. We normally only check 1 bag each and take a carry on each, but this time we took another checked bag. You can also get great “Wanna getaway” rates on flights like $129 per person, per way. Sometimes they have flash sales even cheaper than that though, so follow them on social media. Invest in a luggage scale. They are only a few dollars and come in handy.
Before our trip, I looked up the TSA and Southwest airlines rules for food and drinks. I learned that if properly packaged, we could take up to 1 gallon of Liquor with less than 70% alcohol by volume, per checked bag. I learned that we could take as much beer as he wanted, and I learned I could pack water and snacks. Armed with this information, we got a 12 pack of beer for him, and 1 quart of rum for me. We got a large bottle of juice to mix with the rum. We bought boxes of snack cakes, a bag of donuts, a couple of cans of pringles, 2 6 packs of water, and 2 1 liter bottles of water. The 6 packs of water only cost $1 each and the 1 liters were about 65 cents each. I bought a cardboard box big enough to fit the bottle of rum and wrapped the bottle in a roll of dollar store bubble wrap, and also wrapped 3 plastic shopping bags around it. I packed it in the box with a bunch of crumpled up magazine paper for more cushion and completely sealed the box with tape. When I packed it in one of the bags, I took care to wrap a lightweight but cushioned twin size comforter around the box. We took care to pack all of our drinks and snacks among 3 checked bags along with our other things and kept the bags all under the weight limit. In case you are wondering, our trip was for 5 days and 4 nights.
In the 2 previous years, we had a little more help donations wise but had trouble this year and less money to work with. That’s why it was important to save as much as possible. So how did we survive that long? Well I will tell you.
We arrived on Monday afternoon and after checking in to the hotel and dropping our bags off, we used our first MyVEGAS reward of the trip on a BOGO dinner buffet at Excalibur $28 (find out my buffet rankings later).
On day 2 we got up and had some snacks and water before we set off to use some more MyVEGAS rewards. After some fun, we ate a late lunch/early dinner on a BOGO at Bellagio $31 and ate a few snacks later.
On day 3 He didn’t eat when got up because he had to do weigh ins for the tournament. After that we had some snacks before setting off for another day of fun. On the strip we were handed coupons to Denny’s and opted to eat there. We got 2 massive bacon double cheeseburgers with seasoned fries, me a water and him a soda. With the coupon it was only $24 and we were stuffed. We brought our large Las Vegas cups that we had bought the year before, and I wanted to go fill mine up at the Slushy place on the strip. We went and had it filled with 2 different flavors for $11 and when the lady asked if I wanted to add an extra shot of rum for $3, I declined. I went to my room and added 2 shots FREE from my own bottle!
Day 4 was tournament day so we got up early, had some snacks in the room, and went downstairs. Since I use Microsoft rewards and knew that there were a lot of Starbucks around, I used my points to buy a $10 gift card before we went on the trip. That morning, we paid 70 cents to get me a frap and him a coffee. The bar the event was held at were confiscating peoples water and telling us to go buy some at the bar. My fiance’s water was in a non disposable canister so he got to keep it. They only checked one of my bags, so I actually snuck in snacks and a bottle of water for me too. Later after we returned to the hotel, we went to the food court and got 2 burgers, 2 fries, and no drinks at Breakfast & Burgers $22 we ate in our room and consumed our own drinks.
On day 5 we lingered in the room until checkout time and went down to do a mobile checkout. After checking out, we checked our bags with the bell desk since our flight wasn’t until later. We hopped on the free tram and took it over to Mandalay Bay to use the last buffet pass good for breakfast or lunch but it was brunch for lunch price on a BOGO!! That one was $27 as well. After eating, we walked the strip for another couple of hours before getting our bags and going to the airport. After we went through the checkpoint, he was thirsty so he sent me to buy a Medium soda for us to share at BK and that was $4 then as luck would have it, our flight was delayed by more than 3 hours! That made us have to buy dinner at the airport, crap! $23 for 2 meals at BK. There are no 2 Whopper meals for $10 deals there, they don’t even have a kids meal on the menu! Since we were smart, we managed to only spend around $175 on food and drinks for 2 people, for 5 days and 4 nights in Las Vegas!! We would have spent so much more if we had to buy water, drinks, more than 1 meal per day..
Before I close out, I want to touch on the buffets I have dined at in Las Vegas. I have dined at 5 in total, 4 on the strip and 1 off the strip. These buffets I rank as follows:
5. The Buffet at Excalibur- I have given this one 3 chances and 2 chances it shouldn’t have had, really none. I give this place a Negative 5 stars. I have sadly wasted good LP on this horrible reward for 3 years in a row. The first year it was okay but not great. The second year it was clear they had went further down hill than the first year. This year they claimed to be new and improved in different signs around the property, but they managed to get even worse. The food was old, cold, crusty, and dry. The desserts were so bad, each one that I tried I took a bite and spit it out. I ate enough to get full, but I refuse to eat there again.
4. The More buffet at Luxor- I give this one 3 stars. The food was better than the Excalibur and so were the desserts. We ate there in 2015 and 2016, but I wanted to try some different ones this time.
3. Mandalay Bay’s Bayside Buffet- I give this one 3.5 stars. I got a BOGO breakfast or lunch, but since it was Friday we got Brunch for 2 for the Lunch price for 1. This one still has the “server” to bring you your drink, so unless you order your drinks before you go fill your first plate, you will be waiting for a drink with a full plate in front of you. They are also not very attentive. The food was good, but the desserts mostly looked better than they tasted, the bread pudding was a sweet scrambled egg hot mess for one! (See slideshow below).
2. The Orleans Buffet- We dined at the Orleans Buffet in 2016 because we were hungry after the tournament and he wanted to eat with the family. We were quite pleased with our choice. The price was decent, the food was good, and the desserts were scrumptious. I give this buffet 4.5 stars
1. The Buffet at Bellagio- This one is the best so far. We had a BOGO lunch buffet reward and when we got inside, it was actually brunch. All the hot food was hot, fresh, and delicious. The cold food was cold as it should be. They had so many choices I can’t name them all!! Waffles, Pancakes, Cheese Blintz’s, Sushi, Omelette station, ribs, bacon, sausage, turkey sausage, turkey bacon, fish, chicken, chicken fried steak, potatoes O’Brien, Mashed potatoes, cornbeef hash, and so so so so so much more. This one gets 4.8 stars!!
I hope you have enjoyed Parts 1 & 2 in the How to Enjoy Las Vegas on a Budget series, be on the look out for part 3!
Until next time,