Ten Tips For All-Inclusive Vacations
All-inclusive resorts sound like the perfect vacation plan. However, experienced travelers and travel industry insiders know that there are a number of tips that allow vacationers to maximize the value and the fun of their all-inclusive vacation. Below is a list of ten tricks that travelers should consider prior to booking an all-inclusive trip.
Trick No. 1. Timing is Everything.
An easy way to get a good deal on an all-inclusive resort is to time your visit during off-peak seasons. Even booking at the end or beginning of a peak season can yield dramatic savings. Also, avoid all-inclusive destinations during the holidays when travel is notoriously expensive.
Trick No. 2. Choose Location Wisely.
Some vacation destinations lend themselves perfectly to an all-inclusive vacation. Remote locations that do not have an established travel industry or that may have questionable neighborhoods are prime examples of when it makes sense to use an all-inclusive resort. On the other hand, if a traveler plans to spend most of their time off-resort, an all-inclusive may not be the best economic choice.
Trick No. 3. Book in Advance or At the Last Minute.
Booking well in advance allows travelers to take advantage of early booking options. For travelers that are flexible in timing and destination, taking advantage of last minute travel deals can be a great way to save money. Travelers will need to act fast, however, because last minute deals tend to get snapped up pretty quickly.
Trick No. 4. Plan Ahead.
Planning ahead as to dining options and activities allows travelers to experience all that the resorts offer. Dining options, especially on a meal plan, can be limited and the popular restaurants and dining times go quickly. Most travel insiders recommend booking or planning activities first and then selecting dining options and times based on that schedule.
Trick No. 5. Consider an Upgrade.
Maximizing an all-inclusive vacation is as much about HOW travelers spend their money as it is about HOW MUCH they spend. An upgrade to a club level at an all-inclusive resort often costs no more than $25/day for each person and can pay for itself in resort discounts and giveaways. Benefits of club level accommodations may include 24-hour access to complimentary snacks and beverages, discounts on resort amenities and services, free Wi-Fi, special concierge services, and VIP Lounges.
Trick No. 6. Become a Friend of the Resort.
Subscribing to email lists or "liking" a resort on Facebook or other social media is an easy way to keep in touch with a resort. Oftentimes, resorts use email or social media to advertise upcoming discounts and travel packages.
Trick No. 7. Book the Vacation as a Package.
Booking the accommodations, flights, rental cars and other transportation as one package allows travelers to maximize discounts. Travelers should look at online booking options as well as booking through travel agents.
Trick No. 8. Use a Travel Agent.
With the easy access to travel sites, many travelers never consider using a traditional travel agent. Benefits of using a travel agent include access to special discounts and packages. Travel agents may also be able to provide useful reviews of the all-inclusive resort based on past experience. If travelers run into travel or weather issues or problems at the resort, a travel agent may be able to quickly resolve any problems or issues.
Trick No. 9. Consider Specialty Resorts.
Some all-inclusive resorts cater to certain activities, lifestyles or themes. To maximize the experience and enjoyment of the vacation, it makes sense for travelers to book at an all-inclusive resort that closely matches their interests. Couples traveling with children may not be happy at a resort that has no children's camp. Similarly, an adrenaline junkie may be unhappy at an all-inclusive that specializes in deep water fishing or yoga retreats.
Trick No. 10. Understand Total Cost vs. Amenities and Services Included.
To truly maximize the experience of an all-inclusive resort without maximizing the cost, travelers should understand exactly what is included in the package. For instance, some resorts have tiered meal plans that range from very basic to extravagant. The difference between the plans will generally be the types of restaurants that are included in the meal plan. Also, some all-inclusive resorts provide guests with free drinks, but limit the quality of liquor or the times during which free drinks are available. If a traveler would upgrade to premium liquor and drink outside of the "free" hours, they should factor those additional costs into the total cost of the trip. Guests should also inquire as to whether the resort is a tipping or a non-tipping resort. At tipping resorts, gratuities paid to waiters, bartenders, concierges and activity providers can significantly increase the cost of a trip.
All-inclusive resorts can be a fun and budget-friendly means of travel, especially for travelers that follow a few simple tips to reduce costs and maximize the use of the resort facilities.