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6 Things I Learned From My Trip to Vegas

{ Posted on Jul 18 2010 by Marcus Alston }

I recently went on a family trip to Las Vegas, Nevada with 14 other relatives.  There were quite a few things I learned on the trip.

1.  Las Vegas is Really Not for Kids.  Prior to Las Vegas, we went to Disney World 2 years ago basically the same group.  My Father-in-Law and Sister-in-Law wanted to try Vegas this time.  Out of our group of 15, 6 were kids.  You can’t escape the suggestive marketing like the one below:

We went to a free show at Treasure Island just for the kids in 100 degree weather.  We walked through casinos and mobs of people.

When the show started, we watched 1 male sailor get chased and flogged by about a dozen scantily clad female pirates.  After one female pirate sang something about “seamen coming into her cove,” we decided to move on for the kids’ sake.  It was quite suggestive for the youngsters.

The pool where we swam was also full of singles and young folks looking to hang out and live the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” dream.

Yet the kids loved the pool and it was a great place to cool off and relax.  Just to be fair, the Excalibur also had an indoor amusement center with games similar to ones you might find at a carnival, Chuck E Cheese or Dave and Buster’s.  They also had an indoor ride.  However, many of the games at the Excalibur were broken.  The other casinos also had indoor amusement centers and their games appeared to be better maintained and staffed.

When I spoke with friends later, they informed me that Vegas tried the family vacation theme years ago, but they are back into the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” theme now.

You will find families moving through the casinos to get to food or shows and often you have to go through the smokey casino and smokey hotel check-in environment.  The hotel residence areas was relatively free of smoke and we had a non-smoking floor.  My 4 year old did learn a new word: “gamble.”  A few days after our trip, I asked her what she wanted to do and she said, “I want to gamble Daddy.”

2.  The Flight from the East Coast is a Bear.  Door to door from the east coast took us about 11-13 hours, including arriving at the airport early, 1 layover, and getting from the airport to the hotel.  It was about the same on the way back.  On the way there, we gained 3 hours, but lost it on the way back.  We left Las Vegas at 12 midnight on Sunday Las Vegas time and arrived back in our house 12 hours later at 2pm on Sunday (12 noon Las Vegas time).  The kids held up surprisingly well, but after long hours at work, the travel inhibited my attempt to recharge my batteries.  If you want to recharge your batteries, plan a vacation with easy travel and consider putting in an extra day off at home just to “transition.”

3.  Lodging is Relatively Cheap.  We stayed at the Excalibur for only $50 per night which is a hotel and casino.  If booking the Excalibur try to get into Tower 2 because Tower 1 is like a throwback to the 70s, complete with the big boxy televisions and the cheesy comforters and bathrooms.  Tower 2 has the modern flat screen televisions and modern designs and bath rooms with granite countertops.  I would compare Tower 2 in Excalibur to a nice Hilton or Marriot.  Tower 1 has a motel feel.  Hey, for $50, either tower is great.  We were lucky to stay in Tower 2.

4.  Bring your Patience with a Big Group.  Your group may have different things that they want to do and you may just have to follow along so bring your patience.  Also, bring your cell phones to help coordinate the team.

5.  Look out for Time Share and Discounts on Show Offers.  You will probably encounter several people connected to your hotel who try to sell you discounts on shows.  In some cases, they may also try to get you to buy a time share.  We did not bite on these offers since we did not plan on going to any shows because we had such a large group.  The time share pitches I am told are high pressure and if you get a discount on dinner and a show for going, it may be that day and nearly right after your time share sales pitch.  If you turn them down, they will be even less accommodating to you.

6. Set a Budget if you Gamble and Stick to It. In addition to your overall vacation budget, if you plan to gamble, set a limit for this too so that you do not overspend.  I set a budget of $75 and promptly lost it playing electronic roulette.  While I wanted to spend more to try to win my money back, I stuck to my guns and chalked up my losses to the cost of entertainment.

Conclusion.  The kids really loved the trip and all the “extra” stuff happening in Vegas did not seem to bother them one bit.  They are happy with a game room, swimming pool, and elevators to ride.  So I really didn’t need to go far from home to make the kids happy–at least not yet.

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