All-Inclusive Resorts: Are They Worth It?

Friday, 7 February 2020
Let's be honest, I'm very much a budget traveller. But as I've started getting older, I've found, on occasion, I much prefer convenience over saving a little bit of money. However, for some reason, I was never drawn to all-inclusive resorts. 

All-inclusive resorts typically include all your meals and beverages within the rate. Occasionally, these rates will also include activities around the resort. This can take the hassle out of trying to find the perfect restaurant within budget. But are they really worth it?

Recently, I had my first all-inclusive resort experience. Here are some of the pro's and con's I found about staying in the resort. Now, a small caveat: I have only ever stayed in one all-inclusive resort. My opinions are solely based on this. I'm sure not all resorts are the same. 


Pro: You Don't Have to Worry About Carrying Around Money
Are you worried about carrying around money? I'm sure we've all misplaced valuables whilst on holiday at one point in time. Me personally, I HATE carrying around any significant amount of cash when I travel, I just feel too vulnerable. When staying in a resort, you don't need to worry about this. You can even tip restaurants and bars by billing it to the room. The only time you'll really need to carry cash is if you leave the resorts or if you want to tip resort drivers. 

Con: It's Easy to Lose Track of Your Budget
Did you book all-inclusive because you were hoping it would keep you on a budget? Be very careful! Since you're typically not carrying cash, billing all the tips to your room can add up. It can be quite easy to overtip or forget that you did tip. You also have to be cautious as not all restaurants, drinks, or activities may be included in your all-inclusive package. From my experience, the staff is not always upfront about what is or is not included in the package. It isn't until you've eaten or done an activity that you see the bill. 

Pro: You Can Relax and Stay In One Spot
One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of travelling is navigating a new location. It can be scary worrying about which cab companies are reputable, where the safe areas of the town are, or where to find some good eats. When you stay in a resort, you don't need to worry about any of this. Most resorts are gated, so you don't need to worry about anyone other than guests being present. Depending on the size of the resort, there may be golf carts to shuttle you around from place to place. And, unless you're me, it is tough to get lost in a resort. All of this makes it very easy to rest and relax on your holiday. 


Con: You Miss Out on Local Culture
I'm not sure about you, but I don't like travelling to a different culture and merely living in my own. To me, that defeats the point of travelling. Whilst you can still get a touristy version of the local culture in your resort, it is nothing like getting out and exploring. Most resorts cater to US and European guests, so there is a high probability that there will be menus that reflect this. You may miss out on some incredible local dishes. 

Pro: There Are Lots of Activities for Families and Children
Are you travelling with kids and worried about how to keep them entertained for the entire trip? Many resorts have kids clubs with tons of activities to keep the little ones entertained. Within this, there may even be child care options to give the adults a much needed break. Many of these activities are included in the package, so you don't have to worry about spending extra money. This is especially helpful when your little ones think they want to do an activity and quickly learn it's just not for them. 

Resort in Borneo

Con: You're Confined to the Resort
If you really want to get your money out of an all-inclusive resort, it's best you keep your holiday confined to that resort. Leaving and going anywhere local is just added costs. If you're budgeting, this is a sure-fire way to blow your budget. Depending on where the resort is located, you may also be quite far from the local town. Taxis to and from the resort are often more expensive so keep this in mind. 

Other Things to Keep in Mind
Make sure you check the fine print before booking. Some resorts will charge more for certain amenities. Whilst one would think shuttle service to and from the airport would be included, this is not always the case. 

When researching, it appeared that in most cases, you would be paying almost double to stay in an all-inclusive resort. I'm not really sure that would be worth it to me. I would much prefer to spend my money on more experiences. However, if I am travelling solely for a relaxing holiday, all-inclusive is precisely what I would be looking for. 

When my partner and I stayed in an all-inclusive resort, we found that we would EACH need to eat and/or drink roughly $275 per day to break even. Y'all that's a lot of freaking food! We made sure to get good use of the pools and gym. Unfortunately, other activities were not included, so that made it hard to reach the $275 per day goal. By the end of the trip, we were NOWHERE near that target. It definitely was quite ambitious.

So is an all-inclusive resort the right choice for you? Well, it really depends on what you're looking for in a holiday. For some, this is absolutely the right choice. The security and activity options for families might be perfect! For the traveller looking for a more cultural experience, this may not be the right fit for you.

Now I'd like to know, what are your thoughts on all-inclusive resorts? Are they worth it or not? If you've ever stayed in one, please share your experience in the comments below. 

And until next time...
Stay curious

12 comments

  1. I cant say I have actually stayed in a resort. However I am a budget traveler too. I want the most bang for my buck
    And I feel like resorts are to over priced. I also feel like everything is planned out and I often times when traveling like to be spontaneous. Not trapped and confined to a schedule. I dont think I will ever stay in a resort ( not unless we win the lottery) but this was a very thought out and heavily weighed blog that would make me reconsider it.

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  2. Not engaging with locals is biggest con for me, sometimes that's the best part when traveling.

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  3. I have a somewhat stormy relationship with the inclusive formulas. Of course on the one hand it solves many problems and provides a good package of services, but on the other I seem to feel limited in the freedom not to use them all ...

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  4. This is good to know. I have always wondered about if the places are worth the cost.

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  5. Like you've mentioned there are pros and cons to every all inclusive holiday. Although I would love the freedom of not having to carry money, I would easily become stressed and probably lose track of the budget set. That and I love learning about the local culture but if you have all inclusive then there doesn't seem to be any point.

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  6. This is a perfect list of pros and cons. For me, I didn't mind staying on the resort and having everything included. For trips that I wanted to get out more, though, I probably wouldn't have gone the all-inclusive route.

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  7. I love to cruise, which is a lot like all inclusive. I do love staying at resorts but I also like to make sure I get out and experience the culture as well. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

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  8. Such a lovely round up. Personally I dont like all inclusive mainly because staying in one place you totally miss explore the local culture.

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  9. I love all-inclusive resorts! They makes things so easy and you can always go offsite to see the local culture. Much better than a cruise!

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  10. I’m a big fan of all-inclusive resorts, they make life so easy in my opinion. Especially when you have kids. Plus you don’t have to worry about going to find a place for breakfast. Lol

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  11. I love going all inclusive as it's good to know you have your food and drink covered, and you can still choose to go an eat at other places xo

    Makeup Muddle

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  12. You really have raised many valid points in here. I am also quite keen either if something is worth the cost or not. Nothing such thing as being too costy as long as it suits your wants and needs.

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