THE BIGGEST mistake tourists make when visiting Las Vegas is believing that they can have the Vegas experience that Hollywood sells without having the A-list type of money.

Las Vegas is absolutely a city of gluttony, greed, glam, and accessibility to anything and everything, 24 hours a day. Whenever you want it, wherever you want it, you can have it, but only if you can foot the bill.

What many star-struck travelers find after moseying through the slot machines at McCarran Airport is their expectations are not met.

In a place where cabanas at Drai’s Beach Club (an adult pool party) start at $1,000 USD, nightclubs sling shots for upwards of $50 a pop, and celebrity chefs adorn the Strip with restaurants for rich palates and deep pockets, it’s no wonder why some people feel like the glory of Vegas is simply out of reach. Oh, and if anything says V.I.P. in front of it, you can basically forget about it.

However, there’s no need to get hasty and ask for a refund on that wrap-around suite you booked at The Cosmopolitan. There are absolutely ways to return home from a trip to Vegas with more than enough stories to tell.

Before you head out for your trip, find that golden goose egg that can only be found in Vegas and invest your time and money in that experience. If that means stumbling out of an ultra-nightclub at 7 AM or buying front-row tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show, do it! For the rest of the time, know that if you keep an open-mind, the magic and mischief of this pay to play city will find you.

The key to truly enjoying every minute of your Sin City trip is to fully immerse yourself in the scene on the Strip. Chat at the bar with the couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. Photobomb the massive, drunken bachelorette party dressed head-to-toe in pink garb. Buy your own alcohol from a liquor store, find a comfy spot and people-watch as Elvis and Michael Jackson impersonators cruise up and down the boulevard for tips. There is so much to do and you can do it for next to nothing. There is no shortage of madness, entertainment, and amusement to be had for very little money.

Don’t base your vacation off what you see in the movies, create your own movie.