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Jackpot! Sin City for Under $200

The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel ‘s resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She’s always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.

Sydney writes, “My wife and I [will be] married for 21 years this April. It was my hope to take her to Vegas and renew our wedding vows last year for our 20th. Unfortunately, due to my business failing and some personal issues, we did not even acknowledge our 20th. We have three beautiful boys 10, 12, and 14; and it’s time to make it up to her. I want to surprise her with a trip to Vegas for our 21st in April and need to do it on a budget. She is working part time now to make ends meet, and my business after 21 years is still in the dumps. What can I do?”

Congratulations to you and your wife on your upcoming anniversary—21 years is pretty impressive—and it would be my honor to help you celebrate it in affordable style. Now, I am no stranger to the economy putting a damper on travel plans, but booking on the cheap doesn’t mean you have to skip your dream trip. It just means you have to do a bit more finagling in the planning process.

With your particular quandary, you have two things going for you, or aces in your pocket, if you will. First, you have chosen a destination famous for travel deals and attractive offers. And secondly, your travel dates fall during a slower tourism period. Both of these things can add up to a savings jackpot.

Start by searching for special offers through providers like Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia, and then compare prices.

For instance, I was able to find five-night package deals starting at $207 per person (with taxes and fees) with Orbitz. The deal includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles (other departure cities are available for a higher cost) and accommodations at Circus Circus (other hotels are available at a higher price) for travel from April 19 through April 24.

For comparison sake, I priced the same package (same travel dates, departure city, and hotel) through Expedia and Travelocity. Expedia’s total came to about $200 per person (with taxes and fees), meaning you and your wife could spend five days in Sin City for a grand total of $400, including airfare and accommodations. However, Travelocity sweetens the deal a bit with a total of $196 per person (with taxes and fees), or $392. Plus, you can save an extra 10 percent if you book with an American Express card.

You could stop looking right here if you’re happy with your find, but it never hurts to dig a little deeper. For example, right now Southwest Vacations is offering two free tickets to a show—including Cirque du Soleil productions, Disney’s Lion King, comedy, magicians, and interactive dinner theater—when you book a vacation package of three or more nights at an MGM property, such as Luxor, New York New York, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay, among others.

A five-night vacation package, including airfare from Los Angeles in April, two show tickets, and accommodations at the Luxor comes to about $313 per person (including taxes and fees). In comparison, a package deal at the Luxor featuring the same travel dates, departure city, and airfare comes to about $288 with Orbitz. This means for an extra $50, you and your wife can see a show, which can easily cost more than $100 per ticket when booked seperately.

Granted, this is about $200 more than the package I highlighted above, but it’s also a better-rated hotel and includes entertainment. You just have to decide what’s worth the extra cost, and what is not. The great thing about Vegas, however, is that you don’t have to spend a lot to be entertained. There are a slew of free things to see and do and ways to save on and off the Strip. A little research can go a long way in finding the best-priced buffets, cheapest shows, and affordable activities.

I hope this has shown you that it is possible to afford the anniversary your wife deserves. I wish you the best of luck in your travels.

As for my other readers: What do you think about ways to save in Las Vegas? Did I overlook a particular place to stay, eat, or play that’s especially affordable? Please leave your comment below!

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