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Making the Most of an All Inclusive Holiday

Book Your Own Flights

Once you’ve chosen a quality all-inclusive resort, organize your flights yourself. Many resorts offer packages that include both flights and accommodation, but it’s usually a lot cheaper if you organize your own airfare, and you retain much more flexibility.

This way you can choose an airline you’re comfortable with, have control over the flight time, connecting flights, and perhaps schedule strategic layovers. When someone else is organizing your flights, they don’t think about things like having to be awake at 4am for a 6am flight, so avoid the hassle and plan it yourself.

But let the resort handle your airport transfer if they offer it. Many times there will be a complimentary shuttle included, though others you’ll have to pay a fee for a private transfer on top of the base rate. So confirm this before you agree.

This post has some fabulous insight on how you can save in 2017, making sure you’re always getting the best airfare!

Read the Small Print & Inclusions

It’s important to note that “all inclusive” doesn’t always mean “all inclusive”, and many resorts will have tiered packages which will determine what is actually included (for instance top shelf alcohol, fine dining restaurants vs buffet). So be sure to read all fine print.

While breakfast, lunch and dinner are always covered at the resort, if you’re planning on sightseeing and heading off site to explore, you’ll have to budget for extra meals.

To make the most of an all-inclusive you should try and have breakfast and dinner there, and if you’re really penny pinching, you could leave the breakfast buffet with a couple of fruit stowaways for lunch later in the day.

Most onsite facilities and amenities are included, for example Beloved Hotels – Boutique all-inclusive suites has a spa and fitness center onsite. Spa packages and beauty treatments will usually be optional extras.

Sightseeing Off Site

While there are always fabulous amenities and activities onsite, and you would be forgiven for not wanting to leave the resort, you’re never a prisoner! Day trips and excursions are incredibly easy to book, with many resorts now prioritizing tours offered by local outfitters.

Tour operators in the lobby will be happy to whisk you to famous dive sites, ancient ruins, a rainforest, perhaps a volcano, and whether you leave on quad bike or the back of a horse, they encourage you to venture out and explore the local culture. These packages usually make sure that you are collected and dropped back at your hotel too.

If you want to organize activities independently, Viator is a great place to make comparisons and generally see offerings and price ranges.

Venice sightseeing

Advise of Dietary Requirements Ahead of Time

When looking into all-inclusives, call ahead and speak to staff about your dietary needs. If necessary, ask them to put it in writing so that you can guarantee you’ll be able to follow your diet regime, detox, or avoid foods you’re allergic to.

While you can research to your heart’s content beforehand, once you’re away the only way you can really win at all-inclusives is to relax and say yes to everything!

One word of caution, however: you needn’t say yes to every glass of alcohol offered to you, it’s easy to get carried away when the sky’s the limit on food and drink.

Most of all do try new things, talk to hotel staff about their recommendations, and encourage those traveling with you to do the same.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    18 Comments

  1. Great tips Megan! Glad that you have mentioned reading the small print and inclusions. This is a common oversight to most and one of the most important..I’m guilty of forgetting to read it too. LOL.. Definitely need to make it a habit!

    Love the idea of getting fruits from the breakfast buffet. Definitely money-saving!

    • Thanks Marvi! Yes, the small print is always so important – it’s not the most exciting thing to sit and read, sure, but it’s essential for properly budgeting to know what you’re getting and what you’re not. Nothing worse than checking out at the end with a massive bill because you thought all alcohol was included!!

      Sneaking fruits from the breakfast buffet is my favorite :D Such a great way to get an on the go lunch :)

  2. I think it’s a great idea to take care of the flights ourselves in stead than going for a package. One always thinks it’s cheaper to buy a package but I’d love to fly with an airline I’m comfortable with in stead than booking with my eyes closed!

    • I like booking my flights myself – I’ve been in the situation too many times where someone else booking means earlier departures than I would have liked, rushed connections etc, and you do end up paying more because you’re often locked into their partner airlines.

      Package deals don’t always make the most sense :)

  3. Though we generally do not fo with All inclusive holidays, they are a convenient option, especially when you just want to chill and relax.Of course in terms of cost it works out cheaper if one does all the components separately, but then a package deal has its own benefits and is hassle free. When we do go for an all-inclusive option, the air booking we do ourselves as you suggest for this is a major component of the travel budget and it is good to have this in your control.

    • Definitely a convenient option for those looking to relax, and perhaps don’t want the hassle of having to plan out the separate components of a trip. But good approach to do the air bookings yourself, it really is something worth taking on yourself, as your transit arrangements can affect quite a lot of your holiday.

  4. You are so right about the “All inclusive” bit. A lot of us forget to read the fine print that carefully mentions that it is only inclusive of taxes and certain things have a separate charge. With dives as you mentioned, you plan one and then the not so inclusive bits come in like boat hire or the equipment / air supply hire etc. I always tell people that it is better to clarify what seems to be obvious and look like a fool than to become one at the end of it by not clarifying.

    • Absolutely – I like your tip of clarifying the obvious, because you really do need to. I’ve rocked up at places before, assuming for instance that there was parking, and then realized that parking is $50 a day. Etc So it really can take you by surprise if you’re not all over the fine print!

  5. This post was the need of an hour. Most of the travel agents sell packages quoting all inclusive and people buy without looking at the insights. So, a big thanks for writing this and mentioning about booking flights yourself and reading the prints in detail beforehand.

    • Glad the post was helpful for you Suruchi, yes, it’s so important to check all the details before booking, and make sure you’re on top of the fine print. I really liked Ami’s comment above yours, where she tells people that it is better to clarify what seems to be obvious and look like a fool than to become one at the end of it by not clarifying. I think that’s phrased perfectly!

  6. I guess there are as many people supporting All inclusive holidays as against. There are pros and cons on either side. While we are more of DIY travelers, I can see advantages of a balanced approach,like with letting your hotel cover a few activities and keep free time to explore on your own.

    • Absolutely, it always comes down to personal preference, as everyone’s travel style is different. And even as DIY travelers ourselves, it’s nice sometimes to indulge in a different type of holiday, and relax a bit :)

  7. I definitely see the appeal of booking an all-inclusive resort. It would be great to know the cost of everything up front and not have to worry about sticking to a daily budget. Booking your own flights is great advice to have more flexibility and potentially save money. I also love the idea of adding an extended layover somewhere on the way. What a cool idea! It’s good to note that excursions may cost extra, and to account for that. Will definitely refer to these tips when we book an all-inclusive!

    • Glad the post was helpful for you Jen! Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions when you do go to book :)

  8. Great tips…
    It is not always easy to make the most of such packages. I prefer to plan and handle everything myself but understandable not everyone wants to do so. Still, personally I prefer to avoid sightseeing options that some providers seem to provide (at least in my country), and explore at my own speed.

    • Thanks Jitaditya :) Glad you enjoyed the post, even though your travel style is more DIY. Happy traveling!

  9. Those are some good tips Meg. It’s true that the word ‘all-inclusive’ can mean different things in different places. For example, several hotels include alcohol (certain brands) in the all-inclusive package whereas others only include food (in some restaurants, not all) and alcohol has to be paid as per consumption. It is, thus, very important to read the fine print. Also, I agree with booking the flights yourself but letting the resort arrange for airport transfers or you may even take a taxi to get to the hotel yourself because it will be cheaper. Oh and yeah, I am all for taking day-trips and sightseeing rather than sticking around in the hotel all day long, only because you’ve paid for it!

    • Thanks Medha :) Yes, absolutely, alcohol is a big one which changes from resort to resort, and if you’ve been to one all inclusive before, where alcohol was included, it’s important to remember that this isn’t the same at all resorts. So the fine print is really important no matter how many times you’ve had an all inclusive experience before :)

      Glad to hear that you’re one to venture out – absolutely it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to stay at the resort to take full advantage of the facilities you’ve paid for, but ultimately, you’re there to travel and experience a new culture, so there definitely should be some time set aside to get out and about :)

      Happy travels!

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