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 and the living is easy. Or at least it seems that way until you realize that planning a summer vacation is not going to be so easy on the wallet. Millions of people work hard all year in order to afford a nice summer vacation, only to be discouraged once they are faced with the high costs of transportation, lodging, food, beverages, and the myriad “extras” that can quite literally add hundreds of dollars to every trip.

Vacations are important for rejuvenating the mind and body. In my documented research on those people that make the happiest retirees, I found that happy retirees average 2.4 vacations per year versus unhappy retirees who average 1.4 vacations per year. Happy retirees also spend 33 percent more per vacation. Therefore, I am a strong advocate for getting away and the impact that it can have on our happiness quotient. However, I do believe that going over your set aside budget substantially can add a lot of financial stress, so it’s important to keep your spending in check. 

There is a lot of talk today centered on all-inclusive vacations, and whether or not they provide a financially savvy alternative to traditional vacation planning. While I do think that they can give you a big bang for your buck, it is important to determine exactly what you want out of your trip. You will also want to watch out for certain all-inclusive vacation promises that may potentially turn into pitfalls.

 Read on for some considerations to make before going all-inclusive.

1. Determine first what you really want out of your 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.

These destinations are generally more suitable for an all-inclusive vacation. But for others, a vacation is more of an experience and adventure. It might entail going to Paris or London and soaking up the culture, museums, and new restaurants. If you are not going to spend the majority of your time and eat most of your meals at the hotel or resort, an all-inclusive vacation is probably not your best option. 

2. What does all-inclusive really mean? Be sure to ask a lot of questions about what all-inclusive actually entails. Does this include all extra activities like motorized water sports? Does it include all meals and all drinks- for children and adults? Does this include transportation to and from the airport? Will there be additional resort fees? When you are doing your homework, be sure to get something writing about exactly what is included. 

3. Room accommodations. Yes, that big with a room with the gorgeous view of the ocean looks amazing, but is that the room that you are going to be in? Likely no. Be sure to ask multiple questions about the room that they are going to book you in, including where it is on the hotel property, how big it is, how many beds and the size of the beds, whether or not there is a view, what floor the room is on, and if there is any construction at the hotel going on nearby your room.

You may also ask them if there is enough availability for a potential upgrade once you arrive if you are unhappy with the accommodations.

4. Are you choosing your destination because you are excited about it OR because you think you are getting a good deal? If you are choosing a vacation option merely because it seems like a good deal, it’s probably not the best use of your money. You want to use your money towards a vacation that you know that you’ll truly enjoy and visit a place that you really want to visit. Even if the dollar savings looks attractive, you won’t be happy once you are there and the whole point of your vacation will be defeated.

5. Keep in mind that a price too good to be true probably is. Just remember that you get what you pay for. Deals are sometimes cheap for a reason, and you don’t want to spend your money or time having a bad experience.

6. Consider your comfort level with crowds. Are you someone that loves crowds or do you like a more tranquil setting? Many all-inclusive vacations 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 your happiness if you are accustomed to and enjoy a more boutique hotel experience with fewer people and waiting times. 

7. Garner recommendations from friends. Be sure to get sound advice from someone that you trust, to be honest with you about their all-inclusive vacation experience. At the end of the day, a brochure or travel agent is going to tell you everything that you want to hear to in order to make a good sale.

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.

is the host of the Money Matters radio show on WSB Radio, host of the TV show Atlanta Tech Edge on Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, and Chief Investment Strategist at Capital Investment Advisors