A First-Timer’s Guide to Las Vegas: What to Know Before You Go

Planning your first trip to Las Vegas is so exciting, and there’s so much that goes into it. But when getting swept up in researching shows and dining experiences, it can be easy to overlook some of the basics. To make sure your first visit goes smoothly, here’s a comprehensive guide on what you need to know before you go.

Check the Convention Schedule Before You Book

Las Vegas is a hub for conventions and events throughout the year. Before booking your trip, check the convention schedule. Major events can cause huge crowds and hotel prices to skyrocket. Since Las Vegas is a also betting capital, this goes for any major sports events as well.

It is So, SO Dry!

Don’t forget you’re in the desert. Remember to stay hydrated throughout the day. And come prepared with moisturizer, chapstick, a water bottle, gum, lotion—the works. Your skin will be dry, your mouth will be dry, your hands will be dry—so just remember that when you’re packing.

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Pack Thoroughly—Or It Will Cost You

Everything in Vegas is exceedingly expensive. We ended up buying a pack of gum for $9 because our mouths were so so dry, and that was probably the cheapest thing in that shop. I was too afraid to look how much something like a hairbrush cost. Luckily that was the only thing I had to buy.

There’s a Flat Rate for Cabs to the Strip

Cabs are lined up outside the airport ready to take you to your hotel. Ubers have a pickup spot in one of the parking garages and are usually a couple dollars cheaper, but you will be out of there much quicker in a taxi.

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You’ll be Walking a Lot, Even if You Get Cabs Everywhere

People are not kidding when they say you will be walking a lot. We took cabs almost everywhere, and my feet still hurt by the end of the day. Even from the front door of a casino, the restaurant you’re going to might be a half mile walk once you get inside.

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Marijuana is Legal—But There’s No Dispensaries on the Strip

While recreational marijuana is legal in Nevada, you won’t find dispensaries directly on the Las Vegas Strip. Dispensaries are located off the main drag, so plan accordingly if you intend to purchase cannabis products. Many of them offer curbside pickup, and if you get an Uber from the airport you can add a stop before your hotel. You are not permitted to smoke flower/bud on the strip or in hotels/casinos, so stick to edibles.

Smoking Tobacco is Allowed on Casino Floors

If you’re a smoker, you’ll be pleased to know that smoking is permitted on most casino floors. I think we only went to one casino (Park MGM) where smoking was not allowed. At the end of every night, me (and my hair and my clothes) smelled like smoke. If you can’t tolerate cigarette smoke, maybe stick to Park MGM for your gambling.

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Don’t be Surprised by Resort Fees

When booking a hotel in Las Vegas, be aware of the resort fees. These additional charges can cover amenities like Wi-Fi, gym access, and pool use. Resort fees can range from $20-50 per night and are not included in the advertised nightly cost, so factor these into your budget when comparing hotel prices. Knowing about these fees beforehand can help you avoid an unhappy surprise at checkout.

Be Wary of Scammers and Pickpockets

While the strip is full of amazing street performers and spectacles, there are also a lot of scams we saw. Be cautious of anything “free”, unofficial taxies, anyone offering any “deals” on show tickets—just to name a few. Also be aware that taking pictures with anyone is costume on the strip costs money. And as always in any big city, keep your belongings secure to avoid pickpocketing.

Come With Cash—The ATM Fees are Crazy

Be sure to have your cash before you get on the airplane, because the ATMs will charge you an arm and a leg once you’re there. If you do need to use them, be sure to take out one larger amount rather than having to keep coming back and paying the fee over and over again.

You Can’t Hail Taxis

There are taxis everywhere, but you cannot just hail them from anywhere. By law in Las Vegas, taxis can only pick up passengers from dedicated taxi stands. These are usually in front of casinos and hotels. If you’re not sure where one is, just ask the staff and they will point you in the right direction. There is usually a line at the taxi stands, but they tend to move pretty quickly because cabs are usually lined up.

Drinks are Free on the Casino Floors

If you are gambling on the casino floor, you will see staff walking around doing drink service. The drinks are free, but you are expected to tip the server. There are some limitations on drinks from what I could tell—nothing that involves a blender, and nothing top shelf. But if you wanted a vodka cranberry, a beer, a margarita on the rocks—cheers!

Drinks Are Allowed on the Strip

Speaking of drinks, they are totally “portable” in Las Vegas. Alcohol is allowed on the strip, as long as it is in a plastic cup. So be sure to order a plastic cup if you want to take it with you. It does feel weird walking out of a restaurant with a drink, but I promise you won’t be alone. Of course you are not able to bring drinks in taxis, so be sure to finish up before you grab a cab.

Vegas.com is the Preferred Ticket Seller

If you are seeing a show at the hotel you’re staying at, your concierge can help you get tickets. But if the show is elsewhere, the concierge confirmed that Vegas.com is the preferred ticket seller in Las Vegas. I bought tickets for four different shows through Vegas.com and we had zero issues.

Bring a Battery Bank

Millions of people all trying to access the Wi-Fi at once leads to your phones battery draining quickly. But trust me, you will want your phone. So be sure to have a battery bank handy for a quick recharge.

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Set Alarms

It is easy to lose all track of time—they kind of design it that way. There are no windows, no clocks anywhere—you never have any idea what time it is. So if you have a show or a dinner reservation, be sure to set an alarm on your phone as a reminder.

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There you have it—everything you need to know before your first trip to Las Vegas. Get ready for a trip of a lifetime! Las Vegas makes for an unforgettable trip, and I hope these tips will help you enjoy your trip that much more.

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8 thoughts on “A First-Timer’s Guide to Las Vegas: What to Know Before You Go

  1. Ive been to Vegas many times. Good tips for a first timer. I also always bring a french press and travel hot pot. Most hotels don’t have coffee in the rooms cause they want you to come down and spend money.

  2. It’s good to know these things before traveling to Las Vegas, thank you for sharing this information!

  3. Great tips for those of us less experienced with Las Vegas trips. I wouldn’t have thought of checking convention schedules, but that’s a great tip.

    1. We almost accidentally booked the week before the superbowl and we are so glad we DIDN’T! Las Vegas is already busy, we don’t need even BIGGER crowds lol

  4. These are such great tips for Las Vegas first-timers. Vaseline because it’s so dry and comfy shoes are definitely needed.

  5. Vegas can be a bit overwhelming for first time visitors. This guide can help to make it a much better visit to Las Vegas. Checking the convention schedule before planning can sure help to make the crowds manageable. A good reminder about how much walking you will do … in the dry air! But I can’t believe they still allow smoking in the casinos. A fresher for me about things to consider when we head back to Vegas.

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