Your Las Vegas Vacation – Making it Happen (Part I)

With luck, your trip to Vegas will be smooth and uneventful, and your accommodations will be everything you hoped for. These tips will help make your stay more enjoyable. Part I deals with good prior planning. Part II speaks to what you need to do once you get here.

Prior Planning. Do not let anyone tell you that planning ahead spoils spontaneity. If anything, it gives you the flexibility to change your mind later.

Step 1: Meet with your partner or companion. Decide on the basics. How much can we spend, and what do we want to be sure to do? Make a budget. Than add as big a "fudge factor" as you comfortably can. There's no way you can predict everything you will want to spend money on once you arrive.

Step 2: Check the weather before you pack. If it's winter, ask if the pool is still open.

Step 3: Golfer? Rent clubs. They have nice ones, maybe better than yours.

Step 4: Call ahead right now for show tickets, or go on line immediately. If you know where you're staying, get in touch with the concierge. Show tickets must be purchased well in advance, sometimes months ahead of time.

Step 5: Reserve that "Must Visit" restaurant. Like the shows, some restaurants are fully booked for weeks in advance, especially around holiday times.

Step 6: Research your shopping. Obviously it will be fun to browse once you get to town, but if you know that you'll be looking for certain items, go browsing early over the Internet. Get an idea of ​​where you want to go and how much you'll probably spend. This will save time, avoid stress and sticker shock, and direct you to the shops and stores that really interest you.

Step 7: Evaluate your luggage. Is there room for what you want to take with you and also for what you might buy? Look into shipping stuff home if your plans involve a bulky or fragile purchase.

Step 8: Discuss gambling. Separate out a bankroll for each of you and agree to limit your play to it. Do not risk the egg money. Discuss how much time each of you expects to spend in the casinos. If it's out of balance, make adjustments (to avoid broken expectations).

Step 9: Practice gambling. Sign up for some on-line play. Learn what you like before showing up in Vegas. Learn the rules and the ropes.

Step 10: Find out what else is going on. Las Vegas is, of course, much more than casinos, shows, restaurants and nightclubs. Consider outings to Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon or any of the many other sights and excursions. To make the most of your vacation time, decide in advance if you're a candidate for a side trip to some non-casino destination.

Step 11: Consciously program time for each other. If you do not, you will arrive home with the feeling you were so busy you barely had time to visit with your partner. That would be a shame. Plan a little "nothing" into your schedule.

Step 12: Learn where things are. Study the map. Many people waste time because they have the wrong idea about how close together or far apart are different points of interest.

Step 13: Pack for comfort – especially the footwear. Distances in Las Vegas can be large, especially for pedestrians, and even more so if it's hot! During the days you will be glad to have comfortable, casual clothes.

Step 14: Pack for style. You will probably want to go out to fancy places a couple of times. This may be to a restaurant or a nightclub or a show. So you want to have a couple of things in the suit for such special occasions. Be sure everything fits before laying it out for the trip. Do not waste room in the suitcase with cutoffs, baggy pants, hoodies, torn jeans and the like, which are not welcomed in most restaurants and night spots.

Step 15 Plan to spend money on taxes and other local transport. It is false economy to lay out a lot of money to be in Las Vegas and then spend most of that time on the sidewalk. Speed, efficiency and comfort require taking taxis and limos a good bit of the time, to say nothing of the pleasure of not being lost!

Step 16: Consider going "cold turkey" on electronics. Leave the Blackberry at the house. With the laptop. A couple may decide to take cell phones as a means of keeping in touch with each other, but really, if you can not leave work and emails behind for a few days, maybe you should rethink the whole idea of ​​taking a vacation.

Step 17: Remember a watch, sun block and camera. Las Vegas does not want you to know what time it is, so clocks are scarce. If that's something you'd like to know, bring your watch.

If you follow the items on this list, you'll be ready to go. Part two of this series gives you tips about what to do once you actually arrive on your vacation.