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TR: Throw back Trip report, let me tell you about the most frual (cheap) trip I made

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by ajp, Jul 23, 2014.

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  1. ajp

    ajp High-Roller

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    My Trip Report

    This will be a long report but I think worth the read so come along.

    Ok so a little background here, this trip was made in Sep 2010 so this is from memory and looking at bank statements to confirm some amounts. I was dating my now wife at the time, we were engaged, and had been living together for the last 2 years. We had purchased a new house in February to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit. I am very glad I live well with in my means and purchased a house well under what the bank approved me for, as around April my wife lost her job. She went from make $65,000 a year to being on unemployment for $1,200 a month and struggling to find a job. Everyone gave her the to qualified line or under qualified. She did eventually find a job around October that she still works at and pays more and she is far happier, but at the time of this planned trip she was jobless. We had money in savings and my paycheck with her unemployment covered all the bills and we had food, but things were very tight. A $5 pizza from Little Ceasar's was a splurge and only allowed once a month.

    Ok so now you have the background and see why this needed to be a cheap trip. My wife was feeling really down as she had been out of work for 4 or 5 months and I really wanted to take her on a small trip to take her mind off things. We had a standing rule though that the savings was not for spending, and we never charge things to a credit card we can't pay cash for, ever. I started looking for cheap trip ideas, and ways to get my hands on some free cash. So first in May I had to fly to Canada for work, while making the flight United asked for someone to be bumped as they had over sold the flight. I was coming in a day early and traveling alone so I jumped at it. I was bumped to a flight an hour and half later, and given a first class seat. I was given $25 to spend on food at the airport, $300 in flight credit, and a free upgrade to first class for another flight voucher. So I had airfare money taken care of! Next I worked on how to get some cash to actually spend on this trip. I got a flyer in the mail from AT&T Uverse, sign up for 30 days and get $300 in visa gift cards. I read all the fine print, and there was no contract, nothing, just sign up and use the service for 30 days and get a visa gift card. It was about the same price as cable so I did it, after the 30 days was up I went back to cable, I hate Uverse, but I got my money. I used the visa gift card like cash and took $300 from the checking and hid it away from the wife. So now I have $300 in flight credit and $300 cash to spend, that my wife knows nothing about, I wanted to surprise her with this trip.

    Now we move to the finding good deals portion of the trip report. I was on the internet everyday trying to find a cheap hotel and cheap flight. Finally I found a roundtrip flight to Vegas for $129, I snatched up 2 of them and used my flight credit. So the flight is covered with no out of pocket. Next I found a deal at the Imperial Palace for $11 a night, yes $11 a night. I booked a Sunday to Tuesday. But wait it gets better, they also had a deal going that if you booked 2 days or more at a CET property you got 2 free Buffet of Buffets passes. So for $22 I got the hotel, and 2 24 hour buffet passes for Vegas. So now the cash is down to $278. Next I found a deal on a rental car for the time, came out to $32 for the 3 days, this would be cheaper than a cab and allow us to sight see as we wouldn't be able to gamble much I thought. So now we are down to $246. I arranged for a friend to drop us at the airport and pick us up to avoid parking fees and he drove my car. Finally I was able to get my hands on the LVA as they had a promo I just had to pay the shipping so $5. The vegas fund now sits at $241 for 3 days, can we do it? So I now have it all planned and laid out, ready to go. I didn't tell my wife about the trip until the night before, I told her to pack her bags we were leaving town for 3 days. I didn't tell her where we were going just how many days and types of clothes to pack. She cried she was so thankful, but also she was worried about the money, I promised her that so far I had spent none of our money, and on the plane I would explain it all to her. Oh and did I mention this was the first time she had ever flown and was a Vegas virgin?

    So the day comes we are at the airport, I can no longer hide where we are going so I tell her, Vegas. She seems apprehensive, she isn't a gambler, and even if she is we don't have the cash for it. I promise her that we will have fun and she is not to mention money again or to worry about it, it is covered. I on the other hand am not real sure how I am going to manage $241 for 3 days in Vegas for 2 people. So we go to check in at the United counter, I still have the first class upgrade and plan to give it to the wife and I will fly coach. I nicely explain to the lady at the counter the situation and how I would like to upgrade my wife, I ask if she can seat me as close the front as possible so my first time flying wife isnt all alone. Well here is the first stroke of luck for the trip, she upgrades me to first class as well for free. She said anyone willing to do what I had done so far deserves it, and bam we are both flying first class. Yep you guessed, the wife cries again, I on the other hand am planning how many drinks I can manage in a 3 hour flight :wink2: The flight is uneventful and and the drinks were good, oh did I mention the upgrade was also for the return flight :Þ

    Ok so we touch down in Vegas, grab out bags and head to the rental car center. Hop in the car and head to the strip. Now this is her first trip so before checking in we drive the strip and she can see Vegas in all its glory. We get to the IP and check in, I try the $20 trick but get shot down so hard, oh well. Now as we check in they give me the room key and a coupon book, we head up to the room. Its noon we are in the room I explain the budget to the wife and my thoughts on how to maximize it. First the 24 hour buffet pass, we should eat a late dinner around 9ish tonight, the we can get breakfast in the morning, lunch, and dinner around 7. So the 24 hour buffet pass will net us 4 meals each. We then just need to pay for lunch today, and breakfast and lunch the last day. I look through the coupons I was given at the front counter and there is one for $10 for a bucket of beers and 2 burgers and fries at one of the places in the IP. I don't remember what one, but $10 is perfect for our budget and it includes 5 beers. I also found a coupon for hash house a go go (now a tradition for every Vegas trip) for the last morning. And we agree for lunch we will evaluate the budget when it is time and if we have to eat McDonald's then so be it. Ok so we have a meal plan, we agree to go get our bucket of beer and burgers and plan out the trip.

    Lunch was good, nothing amazing, it was filling and we got 5 beers and a chance to do some planning. We decided that for today we would walk the strip and see the casinos and shops, and I would use the coupons in the LVA for freeplays and goodies and see if we could make a little extra money. My wife is still very skeptical how we are going to swing $241 in Vegas. So we pay for lunch, I left $15 as the service was good and we were here for about an hour. So we are now down to $226 and we still have 2 meals to pay for and gas for the rental car. We hit the strip and sight see and try our luck with the freeplays and goodies. Some of the coupons earn us free drinks, some free hats or a deck of cards. We spend probably 6 hours walking and talking and just having a good time. My wife is enjoying herself, we are getting drinks, everything is going perfect. After all the freeplays and drinks on the strip we leave even for the night. None of the deals were that amazing, and we didn't really win anything big with the freeplays, we got enough to tip the cocktail waitresses and to get a few snacks along the way. So for dinner we decide to start the 24 hours at Planet Hollywood. We walk in around 9 both of us starving and working a good buzz. We both eat far to much and pound the food home. I think we are both afraid we may not eat the last day so we want to make sure we will have something in us to make it last till we get home. Also don't forget we don't eat out at home due to money issues and the groceries we buy are nothing fancy. So I eat pounds of prime rim and crab legs, she does the same. It is pushing 10pm, it has been a long day, we are both stuffed, plus tomorrow we plan to head downtown as we have some more freeplays and she wants to see downtown. We waddle back to the room and crash by 11.

    We were both up by 7, get showered, and head to breakfast. We head to the IP buffet, as we both just want some coffee and pancakes. The buffet serves its purpose but I am glad we didn't have to pay for it. The plan is to drive downtown, get the freeplays, sight see, head back for lunch, then back downtown for the show at night. I am hoping we can maybe gamble a bit but the budget is in the back of my mind. We get downtown and park at binons, head in and get our goodies. Here is where the story gets good. Binions has the best deal for new players. You get a deck of cards, 15 freeplay on the tables, $15 freeplay in the slots, and for black jack a first card is an ace coupon. The plan is we both sign up, I will do the table games, she will do the slots. The wife has never gambled and is scared of the table games. I had gotten her a bj strategy card and told her that if we played I would make sure she didn't screw it up. So she does the slots first, nothing amazing, she turns the $30 into $15 real cash. So the budget is now at $241. I sit down at an empty black jack table to use my coupons. The pit boss explains I can play one freeplay at a time and I can use the first ace free with it. We duh that is simple, first hand comes out, I get a blank that is turned into an ace, my next card is a 10 so black jack, the dealer has nothing, I get paid. So I get paid $22.50, do the same thing the next hand, I don't remember the break down, but I lost. I tip my dealer $2.50 and walk away up $20, the budget is now at $261. I am on cloud nine, this is exactly what I was hoping to do with the freeplays, we have a few more downtown to hit, I am hoping we can get over $300 and then we can maybe try some actual gambling. As we are walking out I see a $1 blackjack table with 2 people on it and plenty of open seats. I can't pass this up, I tell the wife lets play, we can hit the other casino's in a bit. She is a bit nervous, I tell her not to worry, just buy in with the money you won, if you lose it we aren't down money and we can get a few drinks so either way we win. We sit down and it is probably about 8:30am. The CW is around, we get drinks,I tip a few bucks, nobody else at the table gets a drink, it is early I figure they are pacing themselves, wimps. We sit and play, I explain the game to the wife and make sure the dealers know she is new and to make sure on iffy plays not to go fast so I can talk to her if she makes a bad move. She is doing good and using her card and figures it out quickly and needs no help from me. The few times she needs help she asks me and I explain what I would do but tell her to decide. As we sit at the table she never ups her bet from $1, she is worried about the budget. I on the other hand am having a great day, no big losing streaks, and plenty of winning. I also keep the budget in mind and never bet higher than $5 but I am pressing where I can to try to make a bit of cash. It is a $1 table so I wont get rich but I can maybe get a few bucks. The drinks keep coming fast as the casino is empty and I am tipping. I toss the CW $2 every time she comes by, $1 for me and $1 for the wife. We are having a blast, the table is fun, the dealers are great, the pit boss is even having fun with is. I never wear a watch so I have no clue how long we have been at the table but I am getting pretty lubricated from all the drinks, as is the wife, yet no one at the table is drinking with us. The CW comes by and I order drinks for me and the wife and as a joke tell her, and I got a round for the table. Well the table is now full, but they all place a drink order for alcohol and say thank you to me. I am flabbergasted at this point, do these people really not know that drinks are free when you gamble? So I ask them, they all think I am lying, alcohol can't be free they say. I call over the pit boss who confirms the alcohol is free, but you should toss the CW a tip. Well I opened the flood gates now we are all drinking and the table is having a blast.

    We spend several hours playing and drinking and having fun. As we play people come and go but the wife and I stay, the table eventually gets bumped to a $3 table, we are grandfathered but after about 20 minutes it losses the fun and we can't win a hand. The wife loses her $15 but could care less as she has probably had 10 drinks. I have a system on the table that as I play once I double my buy in I put the original buy in in my pocket and gamble the winnings, if I double that up same thing until I have nothing on the table. So once I double and put money in my pocket I can leave at least even, but as it goes and more money goes into the pocket I can come out ahead. Once the money is in the pocket I don't take it out. Once I got bust on the table I get up. The system isn't perfect and sometimes money comes out of the pocket but for the most part it works and keeps me from chasing and helps me take breaks when the cards are cold. Well I busted out, the wife had no clue about my system so she assumed I was also broke, and I was drunk and had no clue how much was in my pocket. As we are getting up my wife tells me that it is almost 1 and we are smoked drunk. We need to eat, but I can't drive us back to the strip,we will have to take the bus, but I have to eat something as does she. I ask the pit boss if we can get 2 lunch comps, he says he can't give them out but we were playing on our players cards so he checks out balance. He tells me that we should have enough comps on the card to eat at the little diner in the middle of the casino. Perfect we walk over and order some greasy burgers and fries and water, we do have enough comps to cover the bill, and the cashier tell my wife there is enough left for a piece of pie, she was in heaven, she loves pie. As we eat I pull the chips out of my pocket and count them up, I had $45 in my pocket. So if you are doing the math, when we sat down at the table we had $261, the wife bought in for $15 and I for $20 so we dropped to $226, with my winnings we are at $271. That is more than we came to Vegas with, we are both pumped. Since we have eaten lunch there is no reason to go back to the strip, we sight see and hit the casinos for our freeplays and goodies, and to sober up. We make a little on the freeplays and try our luck but nothing is working so we leave even after getting some deep fried oreos and twinkies.

    It is pushing 7 now and I am feeling sober and safe to drive, we head back to the strip and use our last bit of the buffet for dinner at the Rio. It was also good but nothing fantastic. It is 9 when we get the car back to the IP and we are both tired and ready for bed. As we are walking up to the room I see they have poker and a small $40 buy in tournament is about to start. I tell the wife head to bed I am going to play poker and when I am done I will head to bed. She heads to bed I spend $40 on poke dropping us down to $231. I play for about an hour and just can't get anything going, I get busted out before the money and head up to bed. We both sleep in till around 9 then get up and grab breakfast at Hash House. We are both in love with it, it is a standing tradition for breakfast in Vegas every trip. Even with the coupon we spent $30 as we had drinks and such, lets call it $31 for easy math, so we now have $200 and we fly out at 2. I set aside $50 for lunch, and $20 for gas, leaving us $130 to do whatever we want with. We agree to split it and both take $65 to do whatever we want with. We try some video poker, and black jack as we do stuff but there is nothing doing. Wife ends up blowing her money on some shopping and I lose what I have left at a black jack table. For lunch we had Margaritaville, not that great if you ask me. After the tip we blew the $50. Headed to the airport, gassed up the rental and we were left with about $4.

    Flew home on first class again so we had drinks and good snacks. Got home and just relaxed after the go go go of Vegas. In the end the wife loved the trip and is now a Vegas junkie. We enjoyed 3 days on vacation not worrying about home and having fun. We at like kings, drank like fish, and gambled for 5 hours. We spent none of our actual money, and had a shoestring budget while we were there. If you were to ask me what trip to Vegas was the most fun, I think both the wife and I agree this is it hands down. We have been back many times with much larger budgets in much nicer rooms, eating at far better restaurants, and staying longer, but still this is the trip we remember the most with the best memories. Vegas has changed since 2010, you can't find a $1 blackjack table hardly, there are no $11 rooms on the strip that don't have resort fees, and they for sure don't throw in 2 24 hour buffet passes. I am headed out in December for my 35th birthday with the guys so I plan to do a live TR. I hope that you all enjoy this, and those trips I have yet to have. I have loved reading the trips of others so figured I would share the trip that stands out the most in my mind and that we had the most fun.
     
  2. sybgal

    sybgal VIP Whale

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    Great report....amazing all you received / did on so little $ but sounds like a really great time!! Thanks for posting this. :)
     
  3. rvallez6

    rvallez6 Low-Roller

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    This was a beautiful trip report! I love it.
     
  4. Mario's Backroom

    Mario's Backroom Low-Roller

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    Thanks for posting! Sometimes I think we get too caught up with where to stay, tier levels and winning big. Your report is a reminder that there's no substitute to just having fun and, more importantly, sharing the fun with people who care! Thanks again for sharing! :beer:
     
  5. ajp

    ajp High-Roller

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    The recession was big at the time in Vegas so they were hurting for people, but yeah I was amazed as well.
     
  6. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Great report! And good memory!

    Nice work on the u-verse deal I wonder how many other ppl did what you did...:evillaugh

    And was that Binion's game 3:2 as well?
     
  7. ajp

    ajp High-Roller

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    I hated Uverse, they were so terrible. I would have kept them if they had been decent as they were the same price as cable.

    I went back and forth on if the Binon's game was 3:2 and I think that it was but I am not 100%
     
  8. MadSaint

    MadSaint Tourist

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    Thanks for sharing

    Really enjoyed reading this report.
     
  9. RockyBalboa

    RockyBalboa VIP Whale

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    Standing ovation for this one. I echo Mario in that we all get caught up sometimes in the grandiose nature of Vegas that a good old fashioned fun trip shows that just being there with someone on a little getaway is great too.
     
  10. sandybeachbar

    sandybeachbar Low-Roller

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    Thanks for your report. It proves that you don't need to have a large bankroll to fund a trip. Don't think I could or would do it,but fun to hear about.
     
  11. mrem3200

    mrem3200 High-Roller

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    Great report. One of the best things about it was that even on such a tight budget you tipped the dealer and CW's.
     
  12. ajp

    ajp High-Roller

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    You got to tip man, these people are the ones that bring you drinks and give you cards. You want positive thoughts on your side. I'm not saying I tipped a lot, but compared to my bank rolls I tipped well I think.
     
  13. KyleB

    KyleB Low-Roller

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    Awesome report, great idea to post. Loved the story about the gamblers not knowing that drinks were free haha. I think this story is why alot of people love Vegas...Where else can you get so much value and entertainment for the money?
     
  14. ajp

    ajp High-Roller

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    My mind was blown, who comes to Vegas and doesn't know the drinks are free. I guess since I was tipping the CW they thought I was paying for the drinks.
     
  15. Dr Nostron

    Dr Nostron Low-Roller

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    Great report - loved the part about buying a round for the table.
     
  16. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    My g/f's parents have U-Verse in the Chicago suburbs. The service quality they get is tons better than the major cable provider, Comcast. I hope to never have Comcast again. But I have heard stories that U-Verse is not nearly as good elsewhere.

    I'm pretty much a flea on all of my Vegas trips. The budget you had for this trip would pretty much be a 3 day budget for us. And tipping is like 10% of my trip BR. :eek:
     
  17. pebbles

    pebbles VIP Whale

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    Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed your frugal trip report.
     
    First trip of 2017.
  18. samanthaelizabeth

    samanthaelizabeth Low-Roller

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    That was incredible! Thanks for sharing!:wave:
     
  19. pac1971

    pac1971 Tourist

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    That's why I love this board! You can read about people having a fun trip on a budget like yourself...or you can read one of Natedog's TR's. Both are really fun to read!
     
  20. Mandiferous

    Mandiferous Tourist

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    LOVE this trip report. I see each trip to Vegas as a challenge to travel as economically as possible. For my upcoming 8-day trip, the only thing I'm paying for is airfare ($198 each for the boyfriend and I) and one night on the strip ($60). The rest of the nights are comped. I could have had the first night comped but I got a deal for Saturday night at the Quad a week before it becomes the Linq. Figured the remodel would be done by then and it would be a pretty nice place to stay. Have racked up over $300 in Total Rewards credits using the Social Rewards program so we're planning on eating mostly for free. I'm putting aside a little bit of money for gambling, but I mostly like wandering around and looking at stuff.
     
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