- I've been visiting Las Vegas every summer for years, so I have tips for first-time visitors.
- I don't recommend renting a car in Las Vegas or staying too far from the Strip on your first trip.
- Make restaurant reservations, be mindful of your belongings, and set a budget before gambling.
I visit Las Vegas every year, sometimes for business and other times for vacation.
From high-end restaurants to glitzy shows, there's a reason the city has millions of visitors each year.
But navigating Sin City can be a bit like wading through a sea of slot machines for a first-timer.
To ensure you maximize your trip, here's my advice on what not to do when visiting Las Vegas.
Renting a car
Renting a car in Las Vegas may sound like a good idea, but it's often more trouble than it's worth. Picture endless traffic, scarce parking, and hefty fees at every turn.
Fortunately, the city's compact layout and extensive public transportation make getting around a breeze.
Save money by opting for alternatives like taxis, rideshares, or the convenient monorail system.
Failing to plan or make reservations before the trip
Although spontaneity is thrilling, Las Vegas can be overwhelming without a plan.
Research shows, events, and reservations in advance to make the most of your stay.
Whether you're snagging tickets to a must-see show or securing a table at a trendy restaurant, planning ahead ensures you won't miss out on the city's best offerings.
Heading into the casino without a strategy or budget
Entering a casino without a strategy is a recipe for financial woes.
Las Vegas games are designed to favor the house, so it's wise to brush up on the rules before hitting the tables.
Set a budget and stick to it, which can help you ensure your gambling experience remains fun and doesn't turn into a financial nightmare.
Staying too far off the Strip when that's where you want to spend most of your time
There are pros and cons to staying on the Strip, the most famous stretch of shops, hotels, and restaurants in Vegas.
Although off-Strip hotels can offer better rates and a quieter environment, you probably don't want to stay too far from the area when visiting Vegas for the first time.
The convenience of being within walking distance — or at least a short rideshare — of attractions, restaurants, and entertainment venues is well worth the extra expense.
Choose accommodations along or near the Strip to maximize your first Las Vegas experience.
Letting your guard down when out and about
Like any city, Las Vegas has its share of scams, pickpockets, and other hazards.
In fact, even though I've been more times than I can count, I had my laptop stolen in a rideshare during my last visit. So stay vigilant and safeguard your belongings when you are out and about.
Be cautious when approached by overly friendly strangers, and avoid accepting unsolicited offers. Those "discounts" to shows and other attractions may be scams if they're offered by an untrustworthy source.
Stick with your hotel concierge's advice on scoring discounts, and stay alert when you're walking around.
Heading to popular sites during peak hours
The iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and other popular attractions are magnets for tourists.
Avoid the crowds and long lines by visiting these sites during off-peak hours.
Early mornings or late evenings are ideal for snapping pictures and taking in the sights without the hustle and bustle.
Forgetting to visit downtown Vegas
Definitely check out the Strip, but also carve out at least one afternoon or evening to explore downtown.
I suggest visiting the Fremont Street Experience shopping mall, which offers a unique blend of vintage charm and modern attractions.
It's worth exploring for a taste of classic Vegas and some fantastic street performances.
Wearing the wrong clothing
Las Vegas weather can be extreme, so be prepared.
Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly to ensure you're both comfortable and appropriately dressed for any occasion.
Also note that dressing too casually can exclude you from certain venues, but wearing formal attire in the sweltering heat can be uncomfortable.
Lingering too long at the tables while gambling
It's easy to lose track of time when you're immersed in the thrill of the game.
Setting time limits for gambling activities can help you protect your wallet. Fortunately, there's so much more to do than gamble in today's Vegas.
Not getting a players card
Most casinos have players clubs, which are a loyalty program of sorts. Joining comes with a players card, which can earn you rewards, discounts, and complimentary items throughout your stay.
Signing up is typically free, and it's a valuable tool for enhancing your Las Vegas experience.