6 Things You Need to Know Before You Book an All-Inclusive Vacation

By Deia B on 12 June 2014 (Updated 16 September 2014) 0 comments

When you stay at an all-inclusive resort, you pay everything upfront. During the vacation, you can then take advantage of the included goods and services as much as you want without having to worry about the cost. This can be a great way to get the most value out of your money, but only if you travel a certain way. Here are some things to consider before you book an all-inclusive vacation. (See also: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards)

1. Pre-Trip Planning

By paying for everything upfront for an all-inclusive holiday, you could go through the entire vacation without spending another cent, which means you don't have to plan a detailed budget ahead of time. It can be difficult to prepare a good budget for a holiday because everything is unfamiliar, but staying at an all-inclusive resort takes guesswork out of the process. This is a great way to save time on planning and budgeting.

However, if you're the type of traveler who prefers to explore the area rather than lounge around the pool, simply staying at an all-inclusive resort will not make your holiday planning any easier. You'll still have to decide which attractions to visit, figure out how to get there, and estimate how much you'll spend during the trip.

2. Meals

You can eat as much as you want at the restaurants within the resort grounds. Not all resorts provide 24-hour service, though, so check with the hotel before you book. Additionally, some resorts limit the number of meals you can have. Regardless of the opening hours or maximum number of meals, staying at an all-inclusive resort can be a great way to save on your food expenses. You can usually find both Western and local fares that are prepared in a clean environment.

If you're an adventurous foodie who likes to try truly authentic local dishes, the choices at the resort can seem limited. You may get sick of the resort food well before the end of your stay. You'll probably wander away from the resort at meal times, defeating the entire purpose of paying for your meals upfront. Each time you eat out, you'll effectively be paying for the meal twice. (See also: 4 Secrets to Eating Great Food for Cheap While Traveling)

3. Drinks

The bar tab can easily balloon out of control when you spend your days absentmindedly sipping cocktails by the pool. But if you lounge by the pool of an all-inclusive resort, you won't have to worry about that bar tab. Every hour is potentially happy hour! While this is probably not good news for your liver, it's great news for your wallet. Ask the resort staff what beverages are included beforehand because sometimes premium drinks are not covered.

An all-inclusive resort usually builds the prices of drinks into your entire bill, so you'll essentially be paying for nothing if you're not a drinker. Even if you like a drink every now and again, this is not a good deal if you like to visit the local bars.

4. Safety and Convenience

Because you won't have to step outside the resort at all, you won't have to worry about not speaking the language. The resort staff should be able to speak English. There's also virtually no risk of you getting lost while taking public transport or being scammed into buying fake gems.

Obviously, these things wouldn't matter if you're the type of traveler who thinks such challenges are exactly the things that keep travel interesting. Just do some research on the destination before the trip and take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.

5. Activities

The resort fees usually include some activities to keep yourself entertained. A seaside resort, for example, may provide snorkel equipment, kayaks, and surfboards for you to play in the ocean. You may also be able to use bicycles or the golf course. Check what activities are included at the resort before the trip so you can plan your days.

Tours and excursions outside the resort grounds are usually not covered by the resort. If there are specific areas you want to explore, the hotel may help provide you with some advice and recommendations, but you'll have to pay for these tours yourself. Before the trip, you should at least get an estimate of how much they would cost and work the numbers into your budget.

6. Childcare

If you travel with kids, the resort childcare facilities alone could be worth the fees. Many family-friendly resorts conduct children's activities, such as water sports, workshops, and even nap times. The resort may even provide all meals and nappies for babies — this will definitely help lighten your luggage. Before the trip, contact the resort to find out what they offer for your little ones and if there will be extra charges for the service.

For parents, having kids looked after by professionals at the resort can really make the vacation. You'll get a break from the kids, so you'll be able to enjoy some time in the company of other adults and truly take advantage of the resort facilities.

Have you ever taken an all-inclusive vacation? Would you book one again? Please share in comments!

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