(Image credit: Flickr user Justin Bugsy Sailor)1. Bring more money.
Las Vegas, or at least the big resort casinos, are designed to extract as much money as possible from every visitor and then send them home. Rooms are relatively inexpensive compared to other cities, despite the fact that my room rate went up between the time I made reservations and the time I checked in. I skipped the $10 sandwiches in the airports and later regretted it, because the cheapest hamburger at the hotel was $15. Try the all-you-can-eat buffet, it's only $42. However, once you leave the hotel, you can find normally-priced food -IF you can figure out how to get there! I played the slots just enough to say I'd gambled in Las Vegas, but not enough to rate the free drink treatment. If there is one tip for a Las Vegas trip, it's bring more money.
2. Distance is an illusion in Las Vegas.
(Image credit: Flickr user Bill Rice)Friday night I wandered down the strip and checked out the other casinos. Distance is deceiving in Vegas. The hotel and casino buildings are massive compared to buildings in other cities. You look out the window and tell yourself, "The Luxor is just next door -and Excalibur is the next building. No problem to walk!" But each resort covers many acres and "two buildings down" can easily be a half-mile walk. I walked as far as the Bellagio and probably put five miles on my feet. I was rewarded with a fairly nice video of the Bellagio Fountains (nice except when that woman stuck her camera in front of mine) and blisters on my feet. My legs were sore for a week afterward. That didn't stop me from doing the same walk in the sunlight on Saturday! When planning the particulars of your trip to Vegas, take your age and physical condition into consideration.
3. Las Vegas is built for tourists.
The strip has lots of wonderful street performers: costumed characters posing for pictures, musicians and magicians, a woman with a snake, and one fellow who invited me to his Facebook page. It was like Times Square, except in New York there are some locals in the crowd. Here, you can tell the residents because they are working.
4. Jet lag is a killer.
It took 12-13 hours to travel each way, but the three hour time difference meant I was ready for bed by 9PM and up 3AM. That's not a problem if you're there to gamble -the casinos are busy 24/7. I saved several dollars on a cup of coffee by trekking 15 minutes across the street to the fast food outlets, along with the other east coasters who couldn't sleep until sunrise. The Europeans were already out jogging by then. Jet lag also meant I was dead tired when the other BlogWorld attendees were partying the night away. If you have a chance to visit Las Vegas, do it while you're young enough to handle staying up late.
5. Bloggers never stop blogging.
BlogWorld is what happens when you put four thousand internet geeks in one hotel. Sure, they look like they're not paying attention, but what they are doing is blogging -in real time- as the speeches and seminars are going on. Many were sending messages to each other and to their readers via Twitter. Apparently most of the attendees have day jobs, because I seemed to be the only person there with neither a laptop nor a smart phone. In one seminar, the only way you could ask a question was by Twitter! Not that I had any burning questions, but they gave away some nice prizes to those who submitted.
6. World records can be broken anywhere.
My room did NOT come with a coffeemaker, so I spent a lot of time in search of an affordable cup. Gourmet Gift Baskets had a very large cup in the exhibition hall. It held 2010 gallons of coffee, which broke the world record for the largest cup of coffee ever! A representative from Guinness was there to certify the record on video. They also gave away coffee, so you can bet I got my share.
If the coffee runs out, Scotch will do nicely. Macallan Scotch was one of the sponsors of BlogWorld. Their booth was very popular. Because they gave us free samples of 12-year-old single-malt Scotch.
7. Drawing on cars is fun!
Both Kodak and Ford were event sponsors. Ford had the 2012 Focus on display, but Kodak had a Focus they invited attendees to scribble on! I, of course, had to do some advertising.
8. Free stuff isn't free if you have to pay luggage charges.
I picked up a lot of swag -five t-shirts and a bunch of toys and stuff, and I won a drawing for a Yahoo stylebook. I carried two big tote bags (also giveaways) back to the room and wondered how I'd ever get that stuff home without buying a suitcase and paying for checked luggage. UPS was there to save the day, with an offer to ship swag home free! They gave out 100 luggage boxes. I filled the box with convention giveaways and souvenirs as well, 20 pounds total, and shipped it back. My souvenirs got home a week later than I did, but the price was right.
9. The internet is much bigger than you think.
(Image by Flickr user Yann Ropars)BlogWorld gave me a taste of how vast the blogosphere is. There were people from all corners of the internet- cupcake bloggers, diabetes bloggers, railroad travel bloggers, corporate bloggers with big followings, and tons of tech bloggers, many of whom had never even heard of Neatorama. I felt like a fish jumping out of the small pond into the big ocean. And once I left the Expo and wandered into the casino, I chatted with people who were wondering where all those geeks at the convention center came from. Some said they don't understand the internet at all. Of course, that's not so different from my hometown, where only a small percentage of the people I know use the internet at all -and that's mostly Facebook. Even if you surf for a living, there's a vast universe waiting to be explored.
10. It's good to be home.
I appreciate the opportunity to travel and attend BlogWorld, and especially the opportunity to meet Neatorama's social networking expert and BitLit curator David Israel. Still, no matter how much fun you have on a trip, there is relief is getting back to your family, your own bed, and your regular schedule (not to mention your personal coffeemaker). My daughters made cupcakes and decorated them with sprinkles that spelled out WELCOME HOME.