When thinking about holiday travel, many turn to all-inclusive hotels. They are travel holiday packages that include lodging, unlimited food and drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), entertainment as well as some services for a fixed price. Most of them are located in The Caribbean and in Mexico. They are perfect if you just want to relax and enjoy the sunshine rather than bother with decision-making and planning, and they will save you from worrying about spending money on every hotel, meal and activity during your holiday.

Here’s what do you need to know before booking an all-inclusive holiday.

Who are they designed for? What do you need to bring on your package holiday travel? And do you have to stay within the resort premises all the time? Read on to find out all our tips.

Holiday travel : woman in pool

Holiday travel : woman in pool“ – CC0 / Public Domain”

1. Holiday travel: What do all-inclusives actually include?

Be careful when booking your all-inclusive holiday travel, because they may include a lot of entertainment, gratuities and services – for example many non-motorized water sport activities and even spa treatments. However, you may come across some resorts that don’t include premium liquor, à-la-carte restaurants, airport transfer and even WiFi.

And when you have to pay for a service or activity that you thought was included in the package, it is usually very expensive.

In addition, many resorts have effective marketing strategies and look way more appealing on pictures and websites than in reality. So you’ll need to do some research to make sure you know exactly what is included before choosing the holiday travel package that’s right for you.

2. Types of all-inclusives: what to pick?

Various types of all-inclusives are designed to suit different holiday makers.

  • Couples only, adults only or honeymoon travel holiday packages are perfect for couples who want to enjoy each other’s company in a chilled and romantic atmosphere. Some all-inclusive resorts are designed for single adults too. All these of course are great if are not keen on spending your holidays in the company of screaming children!
  • All-inclusive family resorts are perfect for family reunions and family with children. They offer plenty of fun age-appropriate activities for kids, which saves parents from the hassle of having to plan and overspend to entertain their little ones, since great activities are included for them in the fare. What’s more, they are a great option for parents who want to spend some time away from their children knowing they will be well-looked after!
  • Finally, you will also find resorts that have packaged holidays designed to suit different interests, from golf to scuba diving, or from spa treatments to eco-tourism. Here again, you need to do some research and check out the best policies and offers that suit your heart’s desire.

3. What to bring on your all-inclusive holiday travel

Even though all-inclusive packages work out as a cheap travel holiday option overall since you don’t have to worry about spending much once on site, you should remember to bring the following items to make it worth it, because although many of them will probably be available for purchase, they will cost you a ton more than if you buy them from home.

  • Sun cream or lotion. Well, obviously. And a sunburn remedy, for example aloe-Vera gel or Biafine.
  • Tummy medicine & a first aid kit. You are heading far away from home. Although the food offered will probably taste delicious, it will be exotic, which means you don’t know how your digestive system will react. You’ll be happy to have the right medicines with you in case you get diarrhea! Of course a first aid kit is great for small injuries.
  • Mosquito & bug repellent. All-inclusives are most often located in tropical countries, so you might want to bring a good bug and mosquito repellent.
  • A travel or insulating cup! Sounds odd? Yes, you read it right! Most resorts only provide small, disposable and flimsy cups or glasses, so whenever a waiter comes to refill your glass, you will be happy to have your own. If you bring a big mug it will even save you from leaving your lounge chair to go to the bar! Plus, they will allow you to sip your cocktail cold rather than lukewarm, as drinks tend to heat up in the sun on that buffet table.
  • A waterproof fanny pack or bumbag. It will save you from having someone to look after your stuff while you dip for a swim.
  • Clothing. You should bring along 2 to 3 swimming suits and 2-3 cover-ups, as well as comfortable flip-flops. Don’t overpack, you probably won’t go for much longer than a week. Also keep in mind that some of the restaurants or dining rooms you will attend at the resort will have a dress code. So for evening dinners or parties, ladies will need to bring a couple of fancier dresses and sandals, and gents some long trousers, shirts and closed shoes. It is also wise to bring a jumper for cooler evenings.
  • If you plan to go on some walking excursions, you’ll be happy to have a small rucksack and some good walking shoes.

If you’re worried about forgetting something, you can also check out our Items to Never Forget Before Going on a Trip.

All-inclusive resort in Cancun Mexico

All-inclusive resort in Cancun Mexico“ – CC0 / Public Domain”

4. Tips on booking your all-inclusive holiday travel

All-inclusive holidays are not for everybody, and if you want to avoid some bad surprises, you should follow our tips at the time of booking.

  • Choose the right time/season. For example, many resorts are located in the Caribbeans, which can be badly affected by hurricanes! The hurricane season lasts from May to October so watch out. If you choose to go at that time, get proper insurance in case you need to cancel your trip. Many resorts won’t offer a refund if a natural disaster occurs. Also consider booking off season, as a less packed hotel could mean happier holidays.
  • Check out the resort location, especially if you think you’ll want to wander out and get a feel of the local culture. Many resorts are located in areas that are not very attractive, basically in the middle of no-where, or surrounded by just other resorts.
  • Research! Find the getaway that’s right for you, according to location as well as type (don’t forget to book an adult-only package if you don’t want those noisy kids to splash water on you when you’re trying to relax in the pool!) and don’t forget to check out reviews on various websites, as we mentioned above.
  • Book flight and resort together. Flight tickets may not be included in the all-inclusive fare, but you could get cheaper deals on flights if you bundle them with the hotel.
  • Book as a group. If you want to go on your vacation with friends, don’t book individually! Booking as a group will save you a lot of time and energy.

Don’t forget to check out our Fly – Sleep – Drive guide, too!

5. Other things to be aware of

  • Get to know the resort as soon as you arrive to make sure you know exactly what services and activities are included on site. Befriend the staff. If you don’t know something or need anything, don’t be shy to ask!
  • Food. The food might not be as amazing as you thought, especially if you only rely on the buffet which is served all day. So remember to reserve early for à-la-carte restaurants, as they will fill up very quickly. Also keep in mind that the meals you will get in the hotel might not be very representative of the local cuisine! Another good reason to venture outside.
  • Tipping! It is important to inquire about the resort’s tipping practices when you arrive – hopefully you’ll even find information about that before booking – to save you some awkwardness or having to carry your purse everywhere you go.

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