7 Things to Consider Before Booking an All-Inclusive Vacation

It's Summer and Time to Plan a Vacation. Should You Go All-Inclusive?

Cocktails by the pool
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It’s summertime, the living is easy, and you might be planning a getaway to enjoy the warm weather. Booking an all-inclusive vacation may seem like a good option if you don't want to spend hours researching airfare or hotel rates, or looking for activities to fill your time while you're away. All-inclusive vacation packages also have the potential to save your money on a summer trip, depending on where you book.

Before committing to an all-inclusive vacation, it's helpful to consider the costs involved and the benefits. If you're ready to get going with your summer travel plans, here are seven things to keep in mind when researching all-inclusive vacation options.

1. Decide What You Want From a Vacation

The word vacation means different things to different people. To some, it’s all about relaxation — laying at the beach or by the pool all day, having the flexibility to eat and drink as much as they want, taking in some outdoor activities by day and a little entertainment by night. For others, a vacation is all about having an adventure and enjoying new experiences.

Think about how you plan to spend your time on vacation. Are you interested in doing all the traditional, touristy things or are you looking for some more unique experiences? Do you plan to spend most of your time at the hotel or go out exploring? Compare your vacation ideal to what different resorts offer to see which one might be the best fit.

2. Know What All-Inclusive Really Means

Be sure to ask a lot of questions about what all-inclusive actually entails before you book a trip. You don't want to be caught off-guard by extra fees for certain amenities or find out that the hotel doesn't even offer something you were expecting. For example, ask whether the resort offers things like water sports, meals and drinks, or transportation to and from the airport. Also, ask what's not included so you know if there are any additional charges involved.

Many resorts charge a daily fee to cover extras such as dry cleaning, local calls and internet access. Before booking, make sure these fees are fully disclosed.

3. Consider Accommodations

Yes, that big room with the gorgeous view of the ocean looks amazing. But is that the room you are going to be in? Probably not. Be sure to inquire about the room that the hotel is going to book you in, including where it is on the property, how big it is, how many beds there are, whether or not there is a view, what floor it's on, and if there is any construction happening near your room.

You may also ask them if there is enough availability for a potential upgrade once you arrive — in case you are unhappy with the accommodations. And, if you're focused on saving money, one thing to keep in mind is that some larger, all-inclusive resorts will offer discounts when you book multiple rooms. This may come in handy if you're traveling in a large group.

4. Weigh Perks Against Cost

If you're choosing an all-inclusive vacation option merely because it seems like a good deal, ask yourself whether it's the best use of your money. You want to spend your money on a vacation that you’ll truly enjoy and visit a place that you really want to visit. Even if the dollar savings look attractive, you shouldn't go with all-inclusive if you feel there's a chance you'll end up bored or unhappy with your experience in the end.

5. Don't Jump on a Deal Without Doing Research 

Just remember that you get what you pay for. Sometimes, deals are cheap for a reason — and you don’t want to spend your money or time on a lackluster trip.

Take time to compare pricing packages at various all-inclusive resorts to see what they're charging. Then, cross-check those numbers against your budget. And look for ways you could potentially save on your trip without having to cut corners or sacrifice on any of the must-haves you're looking for in a vacation.

Check your travel rewards cards for special discounts or savings on all-inclusive vacation packages. Many cards offer upgrades and deals to cardholders in good standing.

6. Be Prepared for Crowds

Are you someone that loves crowds or do you like a more tranquil setting? Many all-inclusive vacation deals are offered at heavily trafficked destinations and resorts. If the thought of possibly fighting over a lounge chair or waiting on lines to get into one of the resort restaurants doesn’t sound appealing, an all-inclusive vacation is probably not a great idea. Even if the expense is lower, it won’t be worth giving up your happiness, especially if your personal preferences lean more toward boutique hotels without large crowds.

7. Get Recommendations

Be sure to get sound advice from someone you trust, who will be honest with you about their all-inclusive vacation experience. Ask them exactly what they liked or didn't like and what they might do differently the next time they're planning an all-inclusive trip. Don't rely on a travel agent to give you an unbiased opinion, as they may be focused on garnering a large commission for selling you an all-inclusive package.

Have you tried an all-inclusive vacation? What did you like the most? The least? Remember to weigh all your options before making any big trip decisions.