Sin City survival guide

The glittering Las Vegas Strip at night. Image: Emily Cathcart.

The glittering Las Vegas Strip at night. Image: Emily Cathcart.

Las Vegas isn’t all glitz and glam when your feet hurt. If you don’t play your cards right, after a long action-packed day it’s easy to find yourself heading for an early night in this 24-hour destination. Here, an intrepid traveller who’s made the rookie mistakes shares top tips to help you make the most of your Vegas visit.

It’s easy to underestimate the energy expenditure required to get around Las Vegas during a hectic round of sightseeing (and the added toll of the weather on stamina). We learned the hard way and did the suffering ourselves, so you don’t have to—here are a few helpful hints…

Respect the desert conditions

Be sure to hydrate, moisturise, wear sunscreen—and a hat. Have lip balm with you always. Wear decent sunglasses—and if your eyes have any tendency to be dry, keeping artificial tears handy will prevent the temptation to cry real ones at the end of a long, hot day. Apart from the sunscreen and headgear, all of this applies in the equally arid air-conditioned indoors (including the sunglasses: there’s nothing wrong with looking like a movie star in a casino).

Map out your movements

Create a plan of attack—you’d be surprised how long a hike it can be if you’re wandering up and down the Strip aimlessly. In the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s own official words, “If you’ve never been to Vegas, then you probably assume it’s a breeze to walk from one end of the Strip to the other. Well, while you could probably make the trek, we wouldn’t recommend it. Unless, of course, you’re willing to invest a whole day and some blistered toes, then go ahead.”

Make Strip travel stress free

If you do go exploring on foot, you’ll find that quite a few Strip properties are joined up in one way or another, and in many cases you can traverse indoors—and/or avail of interconnecting pedestrian bridges one floor up (instead of using street-level crossings which can be infrequent, awkward, and entail a fair bit of stair climbing to get up and over junctions).

Even better, there are a series of three free casino-owned trams on the west side of the Strip: the Mandalay Bay–Luxor–Excalibur; Park MGM–Aria–Bellagio; and Mirage–Treasure Island trams make it possible for savvy visitors to property hop in cool comfort.

The Bellagio Resort and its famous fountains. Image: Emily Cathcart

The Bellagio Resort and its famous fountains. Image: Emily Cathcart

Take advantage of mass transit

The LV Monorail only takes 15 minutes to travel the length of the east side of the Strip, and is great for anyone heading to the Las Vegas Convention Center. One caveat: it’s not located on the Strip itself, but behind it—you’ll still need to stroll Strip-ward to/from the seven stops on the line.

Alternatively, take the bus. The Deuce can help you get further afield by offering two routes (for the Strip and Downtown, respectively). If you’re looking to check out ‘Old Las Vegas’ and want to save a few bucks, it’s the cheapest way to get from the Strip to Downtown Las Vegas/Fremont Street.

Go the distance

Once you’ve reached your target, there’s still the immense interior spaces to navigate: you can clock up some serious mileage without ever leaving the building. The MGM Grand casino—just the casino, not counting the 6,852-room hotel, the convention centre, the arena, spa and fitness center, pool complex, shops, nightclubs and restaurants—is a staggering 171,500 square feet.

It’s no wonder we walked 28,247 steps (10 miles) and climbed 12 floors the first day, then logged similar on the second—without thinking we’d really gone much of anywhere. So those strappy sandals or funky flip-flops you packed specially aren’t necessarily the best choice for busy days: save them for sitting pretty at the gaming tables or chilling poolside.

Speaking of packing, there’s no harm in bringing along a box of those excellent blister-cushioning adhesive bandages while you’re at it… just in case.

You can read more about our Las Vegas experience here on the site; or for further global travel inspiration, order ALHAUS magazine No. 4 today.

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