Woohoo! It’s vacation time! You’ve got your all-inclusive resort booked and you’re ready to sit back and relax! And yes, there will be plenty of relaxing going on, but there are some things you should know in order to get the most out of your all-inclusive vacation, and we’re here to share our top tips!
Looking to book your perfect all-inclusive vacation? Check out some of our resort recommendations HERE!
*Be sure to check out our "First All-Inclusive" vlog for a closer look at our experience!
Now, let's get into it...
1. “All-Inclusive” doesn’t always mean ALL-Inclusive
Not all all-inclusive resorts include everything, so be sure to research your specific resort. A true all-inclusive will include all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, room service, and snack bars) and drinks (beer, wine, & cocktails). Although, you can expect to pay extra for top shelf liquors. Some will even include shuttles to and from the airport as well as basic water sports (Hobie Cat, kayaks, etc), but that was not the case for our resort in Playa del Carmen (Wyndham Alltra). So again, do your research and plan accordingly.
2. Don’t lose your wristband
Your wristband that they put on you at check-in is your access to everything! Without it, you won’t be able to do anything! And along with the inconvenience of having to get a new one, replacing a lost wristband often comes with some pretty hefty fees (we’ve heard upwards of $100).
3. Be sure to pack your basic necessities
I know this seems obvious, but how many times have you said “We can just buy it when we get there” when packing? And while yes, you absolutely can purchase most basic item at the resort shop, be prepared to pay a premium. Things like sunscreen, hats, basic medications, etc can cost upwards of 5-10 times more than they would at home.
4. “All you can eat/drink” really does mean all you can eat/drink
We’ve had friends come back from an all-inclusive resort and say things like “The serving sizes were so small” or “The drinks were too weak”. And yes, you can absolutely expect to experience both of these things when at an all-inclusive, but remember… Every restaurant and bar is ALL YOU CAN EAT/DRINK. If the serving size was small but you liked the dish… Order a second one! If the dish you ordered isn’t as good as your friend’s or spouse’s… Just order whatever they got! And when it comes to weak drinks, you can always order a shot of whatever liquor is in your cocktail on the side and add it yourself. All of this said, just because it’s “all you can eat/drink” doesn’t mean you have to eat and/or drink yourself into oblivion. As a matter of fact, we encourage you not to. It will make for a much more enjoyable overall experience!
Side Note: The food at most all-inclusives tends to be sub-par. Especially the dishes that aren’t native to the culture. Our best meal was by far the Mexican restaurant on-site, while the Italian restaurant left a lot to be desired. Just be prepared for bland, mediocre food, and try to eat more local inspired dishes for a better experience.
5. Tip your wait staff (when available)
I say “when available” because not all resorts allow tipping, but when they do, we suggest tipping your wait staff really good ($10-20 USD depending on your party size) and the beginning of each day and they will be much more likely to keep you drinks flowing and the poolside snacks rolling. And of course continue to tip them throughout the day too!
6. Claim your lounge spot early
You know what they say, the early bird gets the… Best spot at the pool in this case! But seriously… Get your day started early and claim your lounge chairs before you even head to breakfast. I know… If you’re like us, then the last thing you want to do on vacation is wake up early, but honestly it’s worth it. You can always sleep by the pool in your primo lounge spot.
7. Bring a reusable, insulated tumbler/koozie
We brought our Beer Buddy tumbler/koozies and everyone was jealous! We love that they double as a tumbler AND a koozie that fits all different size bottles and cans. The frozen cocktails only stay frozen for so long in the cheap plastic cups that the resort serves them in, plus they are pretty small. With a reusable insulated tumbler the bartenders will fill them to the top so you can enjoy ice cold beverages for all day long that never get watered down from melting ice
8. Leave the resort (as long as it’s safe to do so)
Our biggest complaint with all-inclusives is that you don’t get the traveling experience. And what I mean by that is that you don’t get to experience the local culture in the same way that you would if you were staying somewhere that required you to eat, shop, and interact with locals. The resort is its own little self-sufficient world and if you’re cool with staying in that world, that’s fine, but if you enjoy a little more adventure and local experience, we encourage you to get off the resort property for a day. Of course, only do so if the area is safe. While we loved our all-inclusive experience, our favorite day of our trip was the day that we took a local food tour and explored the city by foot.
We hope that these tips help you plan your trip and get the most out of your all-inclusive vacation! If you did find it helpful, please consider heading over to our YouTube Channel and subscribing for more travel content, and following us on Instagram. It would mean the world to us!