Travel Tips for Vegas
Las Vegas is one of the world’s most loved cities; high up on many a bucket list. Being lively and vibrant, it is the ultimate destination at any time of the year. There are plenty of things to do, whatever the season – from world-class dining, shows and entertainment, to museums, sightseeing and shopping at its malls. Vegas can be expensive, however it is possible to do it on a budget. Provided below, are details on getting to Las Vegas, getting around McCarran International Airport and getting around Vegas itself.
- Getting to Vegas
- Getting around Las Vegas
- Leaving Las Vegas
Getting to Vegas
U.S. Visa – ESTA
• Those traveling to Vegas from the EU should apply for a U.S holiday visa, otherwise known as an ESTA. This is done online, and costs just $14, if booked through the correct website! Warning: There are websites that charge a commission, so be sure to use the official website, which is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. The application requires your passport information & destination details. You should receive an instantaneous electronic confirmation, which you can bring to the Airport, however a written copy is not normally needed as the ESTA is logged against your passport and so visible to check-in & passport control.There is peace of mind when booking your flights through a Travel Agency, due to the support provided when things go wrong. My preferred option is to book via a travel agency, after having checked prices and flight options on SkyScanner.
• If you prefer to book your travel to Las Vegas directly, then I recommend using SkyScanner. Look for a balance between the cheapest flight, with lowest flight times, and minimum number of stopovers. Check also stop-over duration and arrival/departure times.
• Flying out from Ireland – Flights from Dublin Airport to the U.S. normally go from Terminal 2. Try to get there 3 hours in advance, to allow sufficient time to get through U.S. Preclearance, and the two to three security checks. For direct flights to the States, the necessary security and clearance checks are completed in Dublin Airport. If however, traveling via Gatwick, be prepared to go through Dublin’s security, Gatwick’s security and then U.S. clearance on arrival into the States.
McCarran International Airport
• I absolutely love McCarran Airport. You know you’re in Vegas when you’re greeted with slot machines in their arrivals hall! Getting to Baggage claim normally involves a tram journey. I recommend not delaying, as in my experience the luggage will normally arrive at the carousel before the passengers.
• I recommend bringing at least one change of clothes in your carry-on bag. There have been occasions where my suitcase was delayed in arriving to Las Vegas, and had to be delivered to my hotel on the following day.
• If your suitcase is not on the carousel, check with the McCarran Airport Lost and Found Property desk in baggage claim. If they don’t have it, they will ask you to describe it in full, and amazingly, it’s not so simple to describe a non-descript suitcase. (My new suitcase is extremely colorful and has a big pink ribbon tied to it. I’m hoping this will make it distinct enough for Lost Property to find it easily, but just in case, I keep a photo of it in my phone….as this saves time).
• Report missing or delayed luggage to the airline immediately. Retain the lost luggage tag to help avoid out of pocket losses.
Getting from McCarran airport to the Strip
Your choice of transport on arrival to Las Vegas Airport is Car, Public Bus, Shuttle bus, Taxi, Town car or Limousine.
- McCarran Airport is just 5km from the Strip.
- During light traffic, it should take approximately 10-15 minutes by car, to get from the airport to the Strip.
- RTC Transit buses are located on Level Zero of Terminal 1.
- RTC Transit buses are located on Level 2 of Terminal 3.
Getting the RTC Transit with generally require either a bus transfer or a walk, but most likely both.
- Located at both terminals 1&3, this is often the cheaper option if traveling alone. The bus will drop you at the hotel, but just be prepared for multiple stops en-route to it. This is not a bad thing for a first-time visitor, who can sit back and enjoy the sights of Vegas. For more information, visit https://www.mccarran.com/Go/Shuttles.aspx
- The taxi rank is located on the east side of baggage claim at Terminal 1. That is, left as you enter baggage claims from arrivals.
- Terminal 3 taxi rank is located just outside Level Zero.
Options available are Taxi, Town car and Limousines.
My advice – Use Google Maps route search to find the most convenient route. It will show public transport, including Uber and Lyft options. These can work out quite cheap and deliver you to the hotel door. You may also benefit from promotional sign up offers from Uber/Lyft.
Getting around Las Vegas
Tips for getting around Vegas
- The Google Maps app is a fantastic resource for navigating your way around Vegas. Use it to identify distances between locations, transport methods & prices, Uber/Lyft prices, closest Uber/Lyft cars and traffic congestion.
- Another handy use for Google Maps, is to zoom in on your chosen hotel to reveal the layout of the casino floors, exits, restrooms, shops and restaurants. Check out restaurant reviews, prices and opening hours.
- It’s a long trek to the front entrance of most hotels. Check out their other exits; they may be located more conveniently to the Strip or to other destinations you want to get to. Most hotels have sky bridges that lead directly into neighboring hotels. Similarly, the back/side entrance of a hotel might be closer to a back/side/front entrance of a neighboring hotel, that is in turn closer to the Strip.
- A Monorail One Day Pass is available for $12 (at the time of this writing). The monorail stations run behind the Strip and not all stops are ideally located. Not great for tired feet or wheelchair users, and something to be taken into consideration when determining arrival time at your destination. Click here for the Monorail route map.
- The RTC Deuce 24-Hr Strip & All Access Pass is available for $8 (at the time of this writing). These can be purchased by cash or card from the vending machines at the pickup shelters. The machines don’t give change, so make sure you have the correct change. Children 5 and under get to ride for free, accompanied by an adult. The Deuce stops every few meters, so unless you’ve taken the Express service, even short journeys can be quite long. They are a great way to see Vegas, and can be a very fun experience. The Deuce drivers can be extremely entertaining, often turning the ride into a comedy sightseeing tour. Ride the Fremont to Vegas transit at least once during the night time; enjoy the lights of the strip and the partying passengers. Deuce Rules: No standing upstairs. Enter at the front, Exit at the back. Ascend front stairs only, descend back stairs only.
Avail of complimentary shuttle buses between sister properties
- Half hour free shuttle buses run daily to Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The shuttle bus picks up from the back of Harrah’s and from the Bally’s side entrance (facing the Flamingo). Sign up for the Total Rewards player’s card to benefit from this complimentary service.
- Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall offers free shuttle services to the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Hotel & Casino and California Hotel & Casino. Sign up for the B Connected player’s card to benefit from this complimentary service.
- The Orleans Hotel & Casino runs a 30-45 min free shuttle service to the Las Vegas Strip (dropping at the High Roller at the LINQ) and to its sister property the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino.
- Palace Station offer daily complimentary shuttle service to the Strip, dropping off and picking up at the Fashion Show Mall (at Forever 21). Times are not so regular, so check their site for further details on times.
- Green Valley Ranch’s complimentary shuttle to the Strip picks up daily at Mandalay Bay (at the Tour & Travel Lobby entrance). Times are not so regular, so check their site for further details on times.
Getting around Vegas in a wheelchair
Vegas is a disabled friendly city, and this is reflected in the number of wheelchairs and scooters being used in the city. The hotels are massive; their footprint spanning many acres. Don’t underestimate the distances involved in getting from your room to the hotel amenities.
Here’s some guidance for getting around Vegas in a wheelchair.
- In accordance with America’s disabilities act, all hotels should have ramps leading into their hotels. Check with the hotel concierge regarding the wheelchair services they provide.
- Most hotels have wheelchairs that they can lend out on a temporary basis.
- There are several companies that rent wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The concierge should be able to organise this for you, and have it delivered to your hotel.
- Most casino slots and tables are wheelchair accessible.
- Disabled rooms with roll-in showers and wheelchair accessible lights can be requested.
- Pool access may be limited at some hotels. Check this out in advance of making your reservation.
- The street pavements are mostly level stone, so easy to traverse. The difficult part will be meandering through the crowds, particularly at night, when the streets are busiest.
- All sky-bridges have elevators for wheel chair access, although the elevators can be located further afield, involving greater distances.
Leaving Las Vegas
Departing Vegas Airport – Parking, Outside Bag Drop and Standby
McCarran Airport has two separate terminals, so it’s important to check in advance which terminal your airline operates from.
McCarran Airport Long Term Parking – Long term parking is located at Terminals 1 & 3.
- Long term economy parking, is available at a rate of $10 daily.
- Long term garage parking is available a rate of $16 daily.
Warning: Garage parking spaces cannot be reserved, so during peak seasons, customers may be re-directed to the terminal’s economy parking. Courtesy shuttle buses run every 10-15 minutes, to take passengers to the terminal. Allow an additional 30 minutes travel time for economy parking.
Bag Drop – On arrival to the terminal, you will have a choice of dropping your luggage at the bag drop outside the Airport, or at the check in desk. I was confused over which I should use until a taxi driver explained that the outside bag drop is an additional service, similar to leaving your luggage with the hotel porter. While there is no direct charge for this bag drop service, it is customary to leave a tip.
Standby – On receipt of your boarding pass, check that you’ve been appointed a seat number; not having one indicates you’ve been put on standby. Speak with staff at your gate to have a full boarding pass printed, letting them know if you have a connecting flight. If your flight gets delay or cancelled, seek advice from the gate regarding your connecting flight. Don’t leave it to chance that they will remember you and the fact that you have a connecting flight. This has saved me on more than one occasion!
Travel Tips for Handling Jet Lag
• European travelers should expect some jet lag on returning home. Symptoms of jet lag can include interrupted sleep, general fatigue, and loss of appetite. I recommend a clear calendar, for at least two days after returning home.
• If there is no direct return flight to your Europe destination, I recommend that your flight connection happens in the States, while you’re still quite fresh. I struggle with UK/Europe connecting flights; it’s no fun waiting for a connecting flight when you’ve already completed a 10-hour journey, and feeling miserable and drained.
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Check out my Must-Have Things to Bring to Vegas.