Day Trips

If you're fortunate enough to live within 100 miles or so of a major casino, it's easy to plan a day trip. You can drive yourself, or you can check out a bus package. Many bus companies offer day trips that often include transportation, meals, and gambling coupons for one set price. Sometimes bus tours will even include a show. The advantage of these kinds of packages is that you don't have to worry about traffic, and they're easy to plan from a budget standpoint because everything except your own bankroll is included. The disadvantage is that your schedule is not your own, and your meal choice will probably be limited to one restaurant in the casino.

Although some short gambling trips may be taken on the spur of the moment, you should plan ahead as much as possible. Whether you're driving yourself or joining a bus group, you'll have expenses — besides gambling — to pay for. If you're driving, for example, you'll need gas, money for any tolls both there and back, and cash for valet parking at the casino if necessary. You'll also need money for food, drinks, and tips, and for shopping, if that's part of your itinerary. You should keep money for all these things separate from your bankroll; that way, you won't end up short when it's time to eat or get back on the turnpike to go home.

If possible, and especially if your bankroll for your day trip is relatively small, get cash from your own bank or your own bank's automated teller machine before you hit the casino. This will save you fees and service charges, which can add up quickly. Casinos are liberally dotted with ATMs to make it easy for you to get cash, but if your bank isn't on the casino ATM's network, you could take an unnecessary punch in the pocketbook.

Many ATMs charge service fees of $1, $2, even $3 if your particular card isn't part of their network, and if the ATM charges a fee, chances are your bank will charge you another $1 or $2 for the transaction. You could end up paying $5 or more for every cash withdrawal you make when the fees are added.

The other advantage to taking your bankroll with you in cash is that it helps you stick to your gambling limit (more about this in Chapter 18). If you don't have a preset bankroll, it's awfully easy to keep returning to the ATM every time you're down to your last chip. That can lead to serious financial difficulties, especially if you end up playing blackjack with the rent money.

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