About a week ago we packed up and headed to Vegas for a week. With the boys. Crazy right? Tom's brother was getting married and we thought we'd roll a family vacation and a wedding into one.
Hindsight is 20/20 people.
I rationalized this trip every way to Sunday before we left. It will be fun! There is tons the kids could do in Vegas! We will take them to see all the cool things; the fountains at Bellagio, the pirates at Treasure Island, the stratosphere! We will go to the Hoover Dam. Fun! It wont be that bad....
The stomach ache started about a week before we left. You know that pit feeling you get when you know something bad is going to happen. I tried to push it away. Blame it on nerves of traveling with the boys for the first time on an airplane (luggage, security, boarding, the flight).
My fears were pretty much confirmed the second we got off the plane. Judging by the looks we got as we toted our boys through the airport pretty much confirmed what I had feared. We'd made a huge mistake.
Vegas is not the ideal place to take kids (as if anyone thought it was). If you are thinking of taking yours, I'd rethink it at least twice. I definitely lost a few years off my life and a lot of sleep worrying about them and wondering why the hell we thought this was a good idea.
Yes, we did have some fun while we were there. Yes during the day we did take the kids out and they weren't (as far as I can tell) scared for life. The boys has a blast. They were sad to leave.
But if I had to do it again? Not in a million years.
However, I did learn a few things about taking kids to Vegas. Not that I am EVER going to do it again but if you are reading this, maybe you are. And maybe I can spare you some of the anxiety I had while we were there. Learn from my mistakes.
1. Rent a car
Most people who go to Vegas don't rent a car. After all if you are staying on the strip you probably wont need one because everything is right there. We rented a car initially because we were there for a wedding and we knew we'd need the car to get to the rehearsal, the wedding, etc. Turns out the car was literally a live saver. Trying to walk anywhere in Vegas takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Now imagine doing that with a couple of people who have really short legs and walk really slow. The rental car saved us. If we wanted to go down the strip, we took the car. Yes its a pain in the ass to have to drive it, park in the massive hotel parking garages (parking is free by the way) but it is way less hassle than dragging your kids around and listening to them whine about how tired/hot/hungry/ they are. Plus renting a car means you aren't confined to the strip. We ventured out and got snacks at a grocery store to keep in our room (another live saver) and were able to eat at restaurants that didn't charge 3x the price the strip does.
2. Stay off the strip
If you are going to Vegas with kids, it's not going to be like the hangover. You aren't going to be spending all your time in the casino or at the bar so what is the point of staying at a hotel that is literally a giant casino and bar? This was one of our mistakes. We thought staying at a hotel on the strip with a "family friendly theme" would be a great place to have the kids and more accommodating to a family. Plus we got a great deal. Wrong. Any hotel on the strip is all about the gambling and drinking and regardless of the theme is accommodating to people pumping the slot machines full of quarters. Anywhere you need to go in the hotel you have to walk through the casino. They design them that way. Walking a few small children through a massive smoke filled casino? Not fun. We could have had a much nicer room at a hotel off the strip for probably the same price or less than what we paid. Plus all hotels on the strip now charge a resort fee. We paid an additional $15 per day. Doesn't sound like a lot but you add that up over a week? That's an extra $100.
3. If you do stay on the strip, don't go cheap
If you can't imagine Vegas without staying on the strip don't book the lowest rate room you can find. Walking around to other hotels on the strip made us realize pretty quickly why we got such a deal on our hotel. It sucked. While in a great location on the strip it's one of the older hotels. It really hasn't been updated. Some of the rooms haven't been redone for a long time and the updated rooms weren't that great (we found this out the hard way when we checked in. They put us in the crappiest room they had and then of course when we wanted to move to something nicer we had to "upgrade". Another $20 a day. Bait and switch my friends, at it's finest). Some of the other people who came for the wedding stayed at another hotel on the strip and paid a few hundred dollars more than we did for the week. Their room was like a spa. And again, you've got the kids. You are going to spend a lot more time in your room than if you didn't have them. Spring for a nicer place, a nicer room. You'll be glad you did.
4. Plan things to do off the strip
There is only so much of the strip you can handle. If you've been to Vegas sans-kids you know this. That's why most people only stay a few days and if you are bringing the kids chances are you aren't just staying for the weekend. What saved our sanity was getting away from the strip, the smoke and the chingchingchingchingching of all the casinos. We went to Hoover Dam one day. We hit up a few restaurants and stores that we don't have in our state. We visited Tom's family. If all else fails, plan a pool day at the hotel and hang out. We did this for an
afternoon and the kids were in heaven.
5. If/when you hit the strip do it during the day
I'm sure this is common sense to most people. We did go out on the strip one day with the kids and they had a lot of fun. We didn't go too far and only went out for a few hours. We went to M&M world, the Coca-Cola store, the city center mall. We hit up the rain forest cafe. We saw lots of fun G rated street performers (spider man, hello kitty, a smurf, a very impressive bumblebee transformer, sponge bob and Patrick, a golden statue guy). There isn't as much drinking on the street during the day either so that makes it a little easier to take the kids out, less chance you'll run into a pack of drunk bro's.
In the end, we were very happy to come home. It was an experience to say the least. Tom and I were so traumatized by the whole ordeal we've sworn off Vegas indefinitely. Neither one of us feels the need to ever go back. The boys on the other hand? They are already planning their next stay.
My favorite thing the boys said while we were there: Whenever Parker would talk about home he would say "When we go back to America....." Guess Vegas is a world of its own. Poor kid thought we were in a foreign country the whole time.