Quick Trip Planning Process

 Due to a short notice schedule change, I found myself with some ‘free time’.  I had a little flexibility but knew I wanted to be in Las Vegas for a few days between Saturday, March 12th and Wednesday, March 16th.
Here is the process I went though to plan this new short trip:

My travel window was about 6 weeks away. I checked my Caesars Total Rewards offers and regular reservation calendar. I could get a comped room at multiple properties for those dates so that wouldn’t be a problem. Next, I priced flights. I almost exclusively fly Southwest and only check other carriers if I can’t reasonably priced and timed flights on Southwest (or if Southwest doesn’t serve the area). The cheapest flights available were during the week (no surprise). I found nonstop  flights on Southwest leaving early Monday morning and getting me back late Wednesday evening for just over $100 each. Perfect. Then I started looking at rooms again. I asked myself “What do I need from a room for this trip?”, “Is location important?”, “Do I want to stay somewhere new (like the Cromwell)?”.  I decided that I wanted a regular room that I could write a Mark’s Las Vegas review about. With that decision made, I chose Harrah’s since I had stayed there many times, but did not have current room photos and had not written about it.
Flights and room booked. Now to think about what else I want to do. I had a few missions. I wanted to renew my Mlife status. I wanted to see a show or two. I wanted to use some myVEGAS Rewards. I wanted to gather a lot of information that I could write about (including getting info to help me finish a few posts that were already in process).  And as usual, I wanted to get at least a little gambling in. OK. Now that I have a clear purpose for this trip, I can start looking at the finer details. Note: The plan for each trip is different. Sometimes it is simply relax and not  plan anything other than getting to and  from Las Vegas. Sometimes it is gaming oriented (going for the WSOP or a specific tournament). Sometime it is for a conference or work. Sometimes it is show oriented (I’ve gone to Las Vegas multiple times specifically to see a concert). My last trip was a much more relaxation oriented trip with the focus being my wife and I taking advantage of a nice offer from Aria and seeing the new Blue Man Group show with nothing else planned.
Let’s start with shows.   Monday tends to be a dark day for many shows and I try not to commit myself to anything the night I arrive so … Let’s look at Tuesday shows. Tuesday can be limited, too. Absinthe was at the top of my list, but it was dark for the duration of my trip. I started looking at resident production shows. Somehow, Dirk Arthur came up. It is the only big cat magic show left in Las Vegas, it is an afternoon show, and it is at the  Westgate which I hadn’t visited in quite a while (possibly since before it became the LVH). That fit perfectly. I happened to have an $10 credit from Goldstar (a discount ticket site) so I checked to see if Dirk Arthur tickets were available on Goldstar. They were. I picked up a ticket to the Tuesday afternoon show for $25.75. I considered making a day of it and getting a discounted  ticket  to Twisted Vegas which takes place in the same theater a few hours later. I wasn’t ready to commit to that, though.
I usually don’t rent a car while I’m in Las Vegas, but I almost always check rental rates if I think that I might want a car for the trip. I am brand loyal here (just like with the airlines). Years ago I only rented from Hertz, but now I find Dollar to be perfectly fine, convenient and reasonably priced. Renting a car for the duration was going to be more than it was worth to me. I was thinking that I would probably want to get off the Strip for a while, though, so I looked at local Dollar locations. I could rent a car from the Dollar location at TI for under $50 including all fees. It was worth that to me. I reserved a car for mid-day Monday thru mid-day Tuesday. I had looked at picking it up on Tuesday and dropping it off at the airport as I departed on Wednesday, but the extra fee for returning it to the airport was enough to make it no longer viable.
OK. Now I have a car for a day so I can spend a little time off-Strip. Time to look at more specifics. I checked myVEGAS to see what Rewards I might want to use.  I picked up the Palace Station Free t-shirt and $10 Matchplay Reward. I looked multiple times at the Red Rock and Green Valley Rewards, but there just wasn’t enough to make it worth going that far off-Strip on this trip even though I really like those properties.    I picked up a Monorail One Day pass BOGO. I could use it to get to the Westgate for Dirk Arthur and then either give the other pass to someone before I left or keep it for a future trip. I didn’t need a room, but Excalibur had Comp Room Rewards good during this trip, so I picked up that Reward and booked my comp room for Monday night. I had never stayed or played at Excalibur. I had only wandered through (and typically got lost trying to find my way out of there). When I made the reservation the room options were Contemporary Tower King, Queen and Run of House. Run of House specified “Upon arrival we will assign the best available room type.” That sounded good, so I booked it as Run of House. Maybe I’d get a suite!  I also picked up the Comp Buffet and $10 FreePlay Rewards for Excalibur. OK. That’s my 3 in 30 for MGM myVEGAS Rewards. Anything else that might make sense for this trip.  The Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill free appetizer looked good (and works for a solo traveler) so I picked that up, too. Since Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is at MGM Grand, it would also allow me to get a few more Mlife Tier Credits which would help me renew my status (part of my mission). Now I had purchased a total of 7 myVEGAS Rewards to use during a 2 day trip.
  • Excalibur comp room
  • Excalibur dinner buffet comp
  • Excalibur $10 FreePlay
  • Monorail 1 day (24 hour) pass (BOGO)
  • Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (MGM) free appetizer w entree
  • Palace Station Free T-shirt
  • Palace Station $10 MP
I kept an eye out in case anything else noteworthy came up, but nothing did.
About a week before the trip I realized that the way things were  shaping up, I wouldn’t get much use of the car. And if I really wanted to get to the places I had thought about going with the car, I could still get to those by bus, cab or free shuttle, so I cancelled my rental car reservation.
So with a week to go, the rough outline of my trip was:
Monday:
Arrive early. Check in at Harrah’s.  Check in to Excalibur and use the myVEGAS FreePlay and Comp Dinner Buffet Rewards. Try to play/spend enough to renew Mlife status.
Tuesday:
Use the Total Rewards free buffet after 50 Points promo to get breakfast at Harrah’s. See Dirk Arthur Wild Magic. Check out Elvis exhibit at Westgate.
Wednesday:
Relax in the morning and fly home in the afternoon.
I also had a number of other things on my list that weren’t allocated to a specific day. Things like check the Bellagio Fountain Schedule; get the Total Rewards free show list;  go to Cosmopolitan and get a few Art-o-mat  pieces; see a midway act at Circus Circus; gamble, see gaming exhibits at The Plaza and El Cortez and stop by the Burlesque Hall of Fame; etc.
A few days  before the trip, the Total Rewards buffet promotion had been discontinued.
So how did everything else turn out? Stay tuned for the Trip Report!

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  1. My friends and I are planning a weekend trip in July, any idea on when the comps will be extended past June 30th??

    Thanks 🙂

    • They tend to add the new Rewards about a month and a half before the current batch expires. That would mean new Rewards with available dates extending after June 30 will probably be uploaded in mid-May.

    • Hi Kayla.
      They have added the new batch of Rewards. I will update my calendars soon. Many of them have dates available through October and are good for “Travel Dates” through the end of the year.

      • Thank you for letting me know! We’re hoping to stay at Mandalay bay 🙂 I see that the 25%off room rate is available but not the $69/night one yet!

  2. Love this website! Use it frequently. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the next info. Me and my wife go to vegas three times a year and always check your page daily for new information. Thanks!

  3. GOOD STORY. I READ IN THE LASVEGAS ADVISOR THAT THE ELVIS SHOW WAS CANCELLED/POSTPONED BECAUSE OF SOME LEGAL STUFF. HOPE YOU MADE BEFORE IT CLOSED.