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LAS VEGAS TRAVEL PLANNING: WHAT TO PACK

Your plane tickets are booked, your hotel room is waiting, and your wallet is full of all the cash and traveler's checks you're going to blow in Vegas. So what's left to do? Pack, of course!

Packing for a trip to Vegas is, for the most part, like packing for a trip anywhere else but there are a few things you may want to consider bringing along that will help you enjoy your Sin City getaway.

I opened up the question about what to pack on the Vegas4Visitors Facebook page and I got a lot of great responses. I combined a lot of those suggestions with some ideas of my own and here's what I came up with:

Personal Care Items

Most hotels have soap or body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and hand lotion as a part of their standard in-room free amenities. However, people with sensitivities to perfumes and dyes, or people who just don't want their hair to smell like the wacky mango-coconut-hydrangea-licorice shampoo the hotel offers, may want to consider bringing their own. I usually bring travel sized bottles of body wash because most hotels in Vegas use bar soap and I'm more of a liquid soap kind of guy.

Many of the Facebook fans talked about the need to keep yourself moist in Vegas. Wait... that came out wrong. What I meant was that Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert and the dry conditions can often cause people some misery. Be sure to bring lip balm, eye drops, nasal spray, and lotion. I can attest to some severely chapped lips and a bloody nose or two during visits to Vegas so this one is very important.

Overindulgence is a key part of most people's Vegas experience, whether it's eating too much rich food or drinking too many expensive cocktails. Antacids or other stomach medications are a really good idea as is basic pain relief medications. Trust me... you do not want to have to go downstairs to the sundry store to get a travel packet of Tylenol the night after you've been partying yourself to oblivion.

Speaking of sundry stores, all major hotels have one where you can buy any of the things you have forgotten and there are numerous CVS and Walgreen's type stores along The Strip. The problem is that you will pay more for just about everything than you would at your local grocery store or pharmacy. If you want to save yourself some dough, bring your own.

Clothing

Figuring out what clothing to bring can be a challenge and totally depends on when you are traveling. In what should not come as a surprise to anyone, it gets a little hot in Vegas during the summer and, what often does surprise people, it gets downright chilly during the winter. Check the weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

One thing to note, though, is that even if its hot outside, it is often chilly inside with the air conditioning at full blast just about everywhere you go. I'm not usually affected by that but I'll admit there have been times when I've been wearing a t-shirt and shivering while playing the slots. Mabye I should've been wearing pants. Kidding! Light layers are usually the way to go - something you can wear inside and then carry or tie around your waist when you go out.

Packing plenty of options is also key, provided you have room in your suitcase. I'll admit that when I travel I usually pack as though I am going on safari even though I'm only going to be there for a couple of days. I like to be able to adjust to whatever circumstances arise without having to go buy a $100 dress shirt at the Aria men's shop when a last-minute meal at a fancy restaurant became available. Yes, it happened.

But no matter what you wear on the upper parts of your body, the most important piece of your clothing preparation is what you put on the lower part, specifically your feet. Regardless of whether you are planning to trek across the city or never leave your hotel, you will be doing a LOT of walking. Comfortable shoes that have already been broken in are an absolute must. If you are bringing the 4-inch cha cha heels for your night out dancing, consider having a pair of simple slip-on footies that you can tuck in your purse and wear both to and from the club. Your feet will thank you.

Health & Safety

Obviously you will want to bring any medications that you need. If they require refrigeration, some hotels will provide a small refrigerator for an extra fee. Just don't put them in the hotel mini-bar. Most of them have sensors underneath the items inside and if one gets moved, you get charged regardless of whether you consumed it or not.

Las Vegas is basically one big germ-fest, from the rooms to the elevators to the slot machine handles, and beyond. Housekeeping will not be offended if you bring your own disinfectant and the areas you should concentrate on are the door handles, the phone, the television remote, and the air conditioning controls. You may also want to bring hand sanitizer or wipes to carry with you.

As mentioned above, Las Vegas is in a desert and the sun can be brutal even when it's 40 degrees outside during January. Always make sure you have plenty of sunscreen and sunglasses are an absolute must.

I usually bring a small flashlight and leave it by the bed when I'm traveling, especially in Vegas. Not only does it help when you're trying to find the bathroom in the middle of the night, but if there's an emergency such as a fire the power could go out and you might not be able to see your way to the exits.

Electronics

Most hotels have alarm clocks, radios, TVs, and more and the newer rooms usually have connectivity ports so you can plug in your tablets or portable DVD players. The one thing they are often short on is electrical outlets. I can't tell you how many times I have had to unplug a lamp just to be able to have a place to plug in my phone charger and that's before I need to plug in my laptop. A small power strip or one of those doohickeys that turn one plug into two or three can come in handy if you have multiple devices you need to plug in.

Speaking of laptops, if you are bringing yours and you use an optical mouse, bring a mousepad. Most of the desks in Vegas hotel rooms are topped with glass and the optical mouse does not work on them.

Food and Beverage

There is a lot to eat and drink in Vegas but most of it, even the simple stuff you'd buy at the sundry store, is more expensive than what you'd pay by bringing it with you. There's no need to pack a buffet, but some snacks (preferably things that will give you energy as opposed to sugar and fat) and a couple of bottles of water will save you a few bucks.

What Not to Pack

Most hotel rooms have irons and boards (or you can request them) so you can leave your travel iron at home. Ditto hair dryers.

One More Tip

For all of your moisturizer and sunscreen and other liquids, be sure to pack them in a sealed, plastic bag (or two, just to be safe). There is nothing worse than arriving to find out that your bottle of aftershave has spilled inside your bag and ruined all of your clothes.

My thanks to the Vegas4Visitors Facebook page fans Danny, DJ, Jill, Brian, Brendan, Hugh, Felicia, Paul, Jacki, Robert, Katie, Jennifer, Steve, Linda, Tom, Monica, Terence, Nancy, Susan, and Jim for sending in suggestions!

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