Location: Airport to Hotel - First Travels
CES Daytime Travel - Go to your Hotel First As you arrive in town, your first consideration is to get your stuff, and you, out of the airport. You have to get from McCarren Airport to your hotel or CES, depending on arrival time. If you want to go to the trade show, a cab, limo, or rental car is best, in that order. Should you want to go to the hotel, a hotel bus, a cab, a limo, or a rental car are your choices. No matter your choice here, you will have more than adequate access around town to see the sites, out to eat, CES tradeshow, or elsewhere. No matter where you are on the VEGAS strip, basic transportation methods abound. Taxis, limos, and private cars are abundant, but that comes later. Let's go over the pros, cons, and how to deal with each of the airport transportation methods.
As you exit the secure portion of McCarran Airport, you enter the baggage claim carousels. High rollers, CEOs of big companies, and the important ones will be greeted by their limosine drivers at the base of these escalators. If you aren't one of those (I'm not), you continue on through the carousels. About half way down the room, stop and locate the exit doors on opposite sides of the building. The doors on one side exit to the hotel buses, and the rental car bus systems. The other side of the building is the Cab Stand. Yes the cab stand is that big. You need to decide which doors to exit. Your cab ride is personal transportation, but costs $20-$40. The hotel bus system will take some time, but costs only $20 for this trip and your return to the Airport.
Time or money? is your question to answer.
Each of the major hotels has a stop on the hotel bus systems, know where you are staying, and ask for the buses that go there. I don't prebook buses at Mccarran Airport any more, just pay for it as you arrive. You can then go to the shortest line. This simple wait and see move can save you up to 2 hours. It also gives you the option to punt, and go to the cab stand.
Taxis in Las Vegas are as important as they are in New York City, I suggest you get comfortable with them as they protect your timelines, and you get there now. They wait for you in front of the hotels 24/7, and the Airport has a HUGE taxi stand. The taxi services are multiple, and the service is consistent across companies. Taxis have video and surveillance installed by law, so there is little monkey business with price too. A taxi can get you from the Airport to MGM grand for $14. Downtown casinos and Freemont Street are about a $40 $50 ride. As your driver works, you ride over, and have the convenience, and security to work with your phone for a few minutes. Remember that you are not dealing wih the parking hassle, have no liability, are not getting lost, and somebody else is pumping the gas.
Taxi drivers are the best traffic avoidance available, just remember to ask them to make it quick. They want the tip, and know the city. After you open up conversation, just listen, you are bound to hear some seriously funny stuff AND knowledgeable insight come out of their mouths. Tip a bit, it is how they make a living.
Rental cars in sin city require a very large dose of self control, driving skills, and a bit of agression. Generally a good time, lots of people, population density, and driving don't mix. CES week is dreaded by locals of Vegas for the traffic jams, and raises the level of difficulty considerably. Keep this in mind, as you are deciding to rent a car in Las Vegas for this VERY busy week. Figure your car rate of $40/day , plus the added insurance and gas. The total looks more like $50-$60 day. However, the liability of driving that vehicle in grid lock with taxi cabs is fairly high. DUI enforcement in this town is not only a job, but a career for many officers and attorneys. And finally, you have to pay to park that thing. With parking lots that are square miles large, you can see a fair amount of time evaporate as you just park or retrieve the car a few times. Parking at the show can be expensive, and GPS won't save you on the Strip in Las Vegas. Being under continual construction, you need to use alleys, back roads, and temporary construction pathways if you want to move around.
LOCALS DON'T STAND A CHANCE WITHOUT STUDY, TOURISTS CAUSE TRAFFIC JAMS!
After doing it twice, over 5 years, I won't rent a car for CES again. I get a nicer hotel room instead, and spend the difference on cab drivers over my stay. This is not to say that I don't rent cars in Vegas, I do. But not during CES! I either ride the hotel bus, or take a cab to the hotel as I arrive. If I can't check in, I check my bags with the bell service, and go to the CES show.
Weekend warriors, those who fly with carry on only, can check small items at the show. For a few bucks, you can check your coat, briefcase, or carry on bags. This makes feasible a cab ride to the CES show, directly from the airport. If you are booking meetings, plan on an hour or two for the gridlock though. At the show, you grab your badge, so you use the CES transportation system to continue on to your hotel. I advise against this, but it works, and is cheap. Go to your hotel, and then use the CES buses to get door to door access if you want to do it right.