I’ve heard New Year’s on the Strip is a nightmare, but I’m going anyway. How do I survive?

Well, we’ve all done Amateur Night. Once.

Comfort and safety are your primary objectives, because without both there is no fun. Leave the Louboutins and Ferragamos to those staying indoors, and dust off your Docs. Follow basic crowd safety precautions. Metro frowns on large bags, and carrying less is easier on your back anyway.

Transportation requires serious thought. At 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day, the last thing you want is to walk half a mile to wait two hours trying to exit a parking garage or freezing in a taxi line. If you drive, park on the side of the Strip on which you live, because crossing Las Vegas Boulevard requires jockeying to the north or south ends, or using Desert Inn. One solution? Enlist the help of someone willing to arrive at a designated pick-up spot, saving you time, money, headaches and DUI charges. Another alternative: Hold some cash to corral a limo at a hotel and avoid the taxi line.

Once your logistics are sorted, manage your expectations. This is a street party. It’s crowded, noisy and boisterous. Expect nothing more.

Finally: Never climb a light pole. It’s been tried before, and in at least one instance the climber wound up dead.

I want nothing to do with the Strip on New Year’s. What are my alternatives?

I prefer an intimate house party, but if you must go out, Fremont Street is a great alternative. It has a multitude of dining and drinking choices for every taste and budget, and offers a similar high-energy atmosphere in a much more manageable setting. How many cities can say that about a wild downtown celebration.

Prefer to stay close to home? Neighborhood dining has amped up in recent years, and almost all off-Strip bars and nightclubs have some sort of New Year’s Eve celebration. Pick a place and a designated driver and you’re halfway to 2012. Make it somewhere with a view of the Strip and you’ll get fireworks without the crowds!

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