Have any of you ever considered going on an all-inclusive vacation? It’s a risky choice. If you’re considering investing in an all-inclusive vacation destination that is totally foreign to you (i.e. no one you know has ever been there before), knowing whether you’re making the right choice is nerve-wracking.
In March, I went on an all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. It was a wedding celebration for my brother, who had visited the resort a year before. We had a huge party group of about 20 people, and we had a blast.
However, there are a few things I wish I knew before traveling to the land of white sandy beaches and beautiful blue waters.
If you’re considering an all-inclusive vacation, here are five things you can expect:
Buffet dining is rarely known for being okay or good enough. In my experience, buffets are either excellent or terrible, with no middle ground.
Perhaps that’s why the dining portion of all-inclusives is the first go-to topic for naysayers. It’s understandable, why would you want to prepay for all those meals, only to be stuck with one terrible smorgasbord for the entire trip?
Thankfully, many all-inclusive resorts have moved on from the all-you-can-eat (but-it’s-all-you-get) buffet option. Instead, many resorts have a mix of meal plans available. Guests can now switch things up, taking advantage of room service for breakfast, the buffet for lunch and trying one of several on-site restaurants for dinner.
At the resort I stayed in, there were five restaurants to choose from aside from the main buffet. It offered a nice variety for occasions when we wanted to dress up and have a great meal in a restaurant-type setting.
Whether it’s delicious farm-to-table meals or making their own alcoholic beverages, many top-rated resorts now pride themselves on their food and drink.
Certainty and Flexibility
It seems like an oxymoron, but the mix of certainty and flexibility is one of the best things about an all-inclusive vacation.
Everyone has vacation horror stories: shuttles that never arrive, early-closing local shops that leave you without a dinner option, embarrassingly public gaffes over tipping policies. All-inclusives take many of these problems out of the equation.
Buying an all-inclusive package means what it says: it’s all inclusive. Airfare, shuttles, lodging, meals, entertainment and even tips are included in the package. This degree of certainty helps travelers unwind, free from worries over practical details.
Yet all-inclusives are still filled with flexibility. Most all-inclusives provide a variety of options for dining, entertainment, and outdoor activities. This allows guests to customize their stay.
Some of the people in my group, including myself, chose to go on a horseback riding excursion on the beach. Although my experience was terrible and I wouldn’t recommend it to a soul that values the lives of horses (Seriously, I cried.), there are many excursions available to those that would like to insert a little adventure into their day.
Flexibility and customization may not be the first words to spring to your mind when you hear all-inclusive, but they should be. From the theme of your trip to the outline of your day, you can make your trip exactly what you want it to be.
Single and ready to mingle? Pick an adults only all-inclusive that will cater to your social desires and nightlife cravings. Bringing the kids? Take advantage of family-friendly all-inclusives that will provide fun for everyone in your family.
Take advantage of the options to craft a tailor-made vacation for your tastes. Explore different trip packages, food, and entertainment options, and determine your proximity to off-site attractions.
Don’t feel as though you can’t leave the resort. Although resorts do their best to offer a little of everything, there are always alluring attractions beyond their doors.
This is, perhaps, one of the best perks of all-inclusive vacations.
On one hand, you have resort run activities. There’s no need to worry whether you made the right choice in masseuse, scuba instructor or chef. The resort has already done the legwork of finding and hiring licensed, qualified individuals to fill these positions. No more frantically reading reviews for each and every activity, praying you’re not going to get a bum deal.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to head off-site for some fun, the resort staff is your greatest source of information. They’ll know the right places to go, the safest restaurants, and the most honest instructors. They’ll make sure you find your way to the best local spots.
A Better Budget
The upfront price tag of an all-inclusive vacation may seem painful, but it’s actually a budget-friendly option.
Although you’re paying for everything at once, you’re usually getting a deal. Airfare, transportation, accommodations, meals and entertainment add up when priced out one-by-one. Resorts offering all-inclusive packages often reduce the total price for those bundling them all together.
Of course, there are always a few items that aren’t included, so it’s best to know your package inside and out. You don’t want to be confused about what’s covered and end up with an unexpected bill. Luxury items like massages don’t usually make the cut, nor do independent, off-site excursions.
All-inclusives aren’t for everyone, but people who want a customizable, budget-friendly and worry-free vacation, would be hard-pressed to find a better option. Trust that you’re getting a good, stress-free deal when you choose an all-inclusive vacation. You can enjoy each meal and activity knowing it’s budgeted and paid for instead of frantically calculating what dish you can order and still stick to your budget.