Planning can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. I’m somewhere in between but lean to the difficult side. Some people can just hop in a car on a whim, drive to the airport just in time to make a flight and arrive at a destination and figure everything out on the fly and have a great time. That makes my skin crawl.
Organization is a way of life whether we’re talking about gambling, work, or vacation. Doing a little work every day means learning a little every day. I like to make informed bets, want work to be easy and I always want to maximize fun while on vacation. Having fewer things to think about and research while on vacation means that there's less downtime during your trip doing research. The quick informed decisions lead to more good times.
I’ll take you on a neurotic vacation preparation that can be used for any getaway. Not everything will be useful to everyone- just pick and choose what might help make your vacation planning easiest. Since this column often has a Vegas tinge, I'll give some specific tips for the greatest place to vacation in the country.
This is a concern to some people more than others. It's important know what you can and can’t afford during a vacation. This will make it easier to plan for things to see and do at your destination. Understanding what fits a budget should decrease disappointment when there's something that can't be afforded. I like to keep most activities during a vacation at mid-range prices. Saving on most things allows me to splurge on something I might not be able to afford every day.
Vegas tip: Search happy hour deals to save on evening food and/or drink. Some restaurant/bars have reverse of late happy hour if you don't want to get the party started before the sun goes down.
Air and Hotels
This is really the beginning of planning a vacation. Hotel rooms are often refundable (check with hotel operator for policy). Having a flexible reservation date is a casual way start planning for the idea of a vacation.
Vegas tip: Study room models and names at your hotel if you plan to ask for an upgrade when checking in. It’s good to know your options.
The purchase of airplane tickets is when vacation plans get serious. Change and cancellation fees are cost prohibitive so we tend to try to keep plans together once flights are booked. This is when it's time to get serious about planning vacation.
Planning To Plan
This is a bit obsessive but it makes the process easier and planning fun. Spending five minutes to put together a list of things to plan about a month in advance makes the process easier. It also gets the juices flowing to think about how you want to spend time during your trip.
An example in Las Vegas is whether a vacation will include a trip downtown? If so where to eat/drink/gamble? Researching things like this is fun and planning to plan just streamlines the process of where to go once you're in town.
This is the best part of planning a vacation. Sure you might be visiting Chicago to catch a couple baseball games, but what else is there to do? A cab driver to the hotel may be able to explain the difference between fully naked strip clubs and just topless but there's so much more to know about every city before you visit. Recon is so much easier today than when my father had to call AAA for a trip book for our destinations. Las Vegas is similar to Chicago in that there’s so much more to research beyond bars, restaurants, shows, and other.
Knowing which casinos, bars, and restaurants have the things you’re looking for will allow you to narrow options when getting to your destination. All of this info will also help steer you towards places that you would enjoy visiting but might not know about otherwise.
Las Vegas is a unique vacation destination if you're a gambler. The casinos aren't all the same. Gambling research for a Las Vegas vacation is helpful for anyone looking to play the best games with the smallest house edge. This blackjack survey is helpful for finding a game with good rules or an affordable game. VPfree2.com is a great resource for video poker players to find the games with the best paytables and highest returns. I try to keep a list of craps odds on my blog because I love the game. Of course, all sports bettors know where to find the best sportsbooks in Vegas.
Vegas tip: Vegas Message Board is a great general resource.
The pack map might be the best vacation planning concept I’ve come up with. Before packing I decide roughly what I need to bring. Packing isn’t fun but this actually makes the chore quick and relatively painless since you know exactly which clothes, toiletries, etc. need to go in the bag. I hate forgetting things.
Vegas tip: Pack lip balm. Nothing worse than chapped lips from 115-degree dry heat.
Rideshares like Uber and Lyft are often less expensive than cabs. Download one in advance of the trip so you can quickly get a car to your destination. If you plan this in advance you can snag a discount code. Share your discount code with your traveling companions and keep rides discounted.
Vegas Tip: Download mobile sportsbook app from a casino before your visit so you can quickly fund an account when you get to the property.