If you think a trip to Vegas means blowing all your cash, teetering around in painful stilettos, and waking up married, think again. We're here to help you avoid the rip-offs, blisters, and epic mistakes that Sin City is known for. Here are our 10 biggest don'ts for your next Vegas vacation.
Filled with excitement, you deplane at McCarran International and hop into one of the cabs waiting to take tourists to area hotels. The Strip was visible from the runway, but after your cabbie exits through the airport tunnel, you seem to be driving away from the neon signs and bright lights that were so close just a moment ago. That's because you're being long-hauled. The practice of taking tourists on much longer rides than necessary via the airport tunnel is a huge problem in Las Vegas -- and one that is punishable by the Nevada Taxicab Authority. Make sure to ask your cabbie to take Swenson Street and not the airport tunnel to avoid getting fleeced.
Use the Casino ATMs
ATMs are installed in Vegas casinos to entice weary gamblers with their convenience and proximity. But do yourself (and your bank account) a favor and don't give in to the temptation. Casino ATMs come with some of the highest fees anywhere -- we've heard horror stories of as much as $10 added to a single transaction. Rather than making a hefty donation to the casino, find one of the non-casino ATMs listed here or use the handy ATM Hunter app and avoid the gouge.
Practice Improper Gambling Etiquette
When in Vegas, know how to behave at the blackjack table. First, don't hand money directly to the dealer; security cameras need to witness everything, so lay your money on the table for the dealer to spread out and count in plain view of the cameras above. Also for the sake of the cameras, know that dealers might require you to hand signal your decisions. Don't bend the cards (it looks like you're cheating). Do tip the dealer, especially if you're winning (casino dealers generally work for minimum wage). Don't move your cards off of or under the table, and make sure to keep your highest chips in view at all times. And lastly, cell phone use is prohibited at the table, so don't be that guy.
Want to get a big old citation on your already expensive Vegas vacation? All you have to do is cross the street. According to a study conducted by Transportation for America, Las Vegas is one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians -- hence the hefty fines slapped on visiting revelers for merely stepping outside of the painted crosswalk lines on the Strip. Tickets can reach several hundred dollars, so this is one corner you don't want to cut.
Buy Bottled Water on the Street
The first reason not to buy bottled water from sketchy vendors on the Strip: It's illegal. Peddlers are banned from selling water and other wares unless they have a business license to do so. The second reason: According to Las Vegas news channel 8 News NOW, police are cracking down because "they've seen used bottles repackaged and resold with tap water to thirsty tourists." If you're going to get sick from drinking in Vegas, it shouldn't be from dirty water.
Wear Painful Shoes
While your sparkly dress might be begging for five-inch stilettos, your feet are begging for comfort as they walk through never-ending casinos. The cavernous resorts along the Strip are always bigger than you think: The MGM Grand's gaming space clocks in at 170,000 square feet! And then there are the epic treks from one casino to the next. We recommend stylish but comfortable heels, such as these suede pumps with extra-padded footbeds from Clarks, for casino-hopping that won't leave you with painful blisters.
Hail a Cab on the Strip
Did you know that it's illegal to hail a taxi on the Las Vegas Strip? With its congested traffic and drivers zipping by at high speeds, the Strip can get pretty dicey for distracted or unknowing visitors. So the Nevada Taxicab Authority has strict regulations that instruct cabs to only pick up from designated taxi stands: generally, the pickup areas at the entrances to casinos and restaurants. Let's give them a round of applause for taking all the hard work out of catching a cab.
What will your mother say? And those photos commemorating the moment you drunkenly said "I do"? They'll never be fit to frame. Just say no to a quickie Vegas wedding. Instead of dropping $40 on the Little White Wedding Chapel's Drive Thru Special, take your dollars to the slots, where your odds of success are probably better -- and even if you lose, it's cheaper than a divorce.
Get Duped by 'Free' Shows
The Strip is known for the plethora of promoters and card snappers pushing "free" show tickets on passersby. But take these coupons with a grain of salt. Often, when you read the fine print, you'll find that there is a two-drink minimum once you're in the club, and sometimes an exorbitant service charge gets added to your total at the end of the night. We all know that drinks don't come cheap in Vegas, so inspect the details of the offer before you go, and make sure that the amount you'll save on tickets won't be negated by the cost of pricey beverages.
Depart on a Red-Eye
You'll need adequate time to wash off your wild weekend in Vegas, so don't book yourself on a red-eye flight home and attempt to make it to the office the next morning. Give yourself as close to a full day as possible to rest, recuperate, and unpack. Other things on the recovery-day to-do list: Untag yourself in all those photos on Facebook, brace yourself for your bank-account balance, and promise never to drink vodka again.
--By Julianne Lowell