Regardless of whether you love or hate them, all-inclusive vacations are a major part of many popular destinations. Without denying that some come with unrivaled combinations of affordability and convenience, how do you decide if an all-inclusive package is right for you? Following are some facts regarding these packages that could help you make up your mind.
1. Best time of the year to book an all-inclusive
In case you’re shopping around for the most affordable all-inclusive package to a popular destination such as Jamaica or Mexico, then consider planning your trip during the off-season. Off-season in this case means spring, summer low season and early fall, when many resorts slash down their prices and you can still enjoy a nice weather and numerous activities. On a side note, some resorts even offer 60% discounts during the hurricane season; therefore, if you’re flexible, understand the potential risks and buy insurance, this could be a great option.
2. Book your all-inclusive package in advance
As a rule of thumb, you should book your vacation package months, ideally a year, in advance. Most resorts offer some amazing last-minute bargains, but don’t forget that the airline tickets could be very expensive during the busy season, and the price could cancel out the benefits of an all-inclusive package.
Because the term all-inclusive means you pay up front for the meals, drinks and activities, take the time to evaluate what the package contains and determine if you intend to take advantage of all those things. In case you want to explore the surroundings of the resort and check out the local restaurants in the area, then purchasing an all-inclusive package doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, if your ideal vacation entails spending the entire day within the premises of the resort relaxing, then you could save a lot of cash and headaches by investing in this type of package.
3. Try to find honest, unbiased reviews
Despite the popular belief, all-inclusive resorts are not places where you just go to sleep after an entire day of adventure and exploring. In fact, they entail a location where you will spend most of your time, if not all the trip. In the light of these facts, it’s understandable why you should do some in-depth research and establish whether the destination fits your needs and preferences.
Even though all resorts look amazing when you look at the brochures and websites, the best method of determining if one is suitable is to read travelers’ honest reviews. Preferably, you should look collectively at reviews and find a travel agent who has some experience, and has actually been to the locations she/he represents.
4. Book everything together
To get the best overall price for an all-inclusive vacation package – including flights, ground transportation, food, drinks and accommodation – it is highly advisable to book everything together. In general, booking a package online will offer you some sort of discount if you purchase a pre-established combination of flights, hotels and car rentals. However, to be certain you will receive everything promised in the package, it’s always better to work with a travel agent directly. In case something goes wrong, rest assured the agent will cut through the mess and fix the situation.
5. Consider an activity-specific package
Granted, when thinking of all-inclusive vacations, most people imagine beach volleyball, margaritas and cookie-butter buffets. In reality, there are considerably more options out there than the aforementioned stereotype. In fact, you can book an all-inclusive vacation to a fishing lodge or a dive resort and spend your vacation doing exactly what you love the most.
Knowing the activities included in your vacation package makes sense for two main reasons. First off, you already paid for them and you will want to take advantage of as many as possible. In addition, you can find out more about what those free lessons actually entail.
6. If you want more options, check out the upgrades
In general, the all-inclusive basic packages are tiered tickets equivalent to a club level membership. While highly affordable, keep in mind that most of them are actually basic and may not meet your needs. Instead of settling for a basic package, inquire about what it entails and opt for an upgrade that features other necessities – free internet, discounts on spas, fully-stocked fridge – you think you will need and use while you are there.
7. Read the fine print to avoid unpleasant surprises
As with any other document you sign, it pays reading the fine print on your all-inclusive package. While you know that you have signed up for all-inclusive meals, you could find yourself in the unpleasant situation of learning that this includes a plain buffet and possibly two meals a la carte after you arrive. In addition, you should inquire whether you can have these meals whenever you’re hungry or only during certain hours of the day.