Budgeting for summer travel can be difficult. Extra expenses like meals, entertainment, and incidentals can quickly turn a planned bargain vacation into a bank-busting trip. So to avoid hidden fees and sticker shock, some savvy travelers are turning to all-inclusive vacations.
One advantage of booking an all-inclusive trip is that accommodation, meals, alcohol, recreational activities, and gratuities are included. Travelers embark on their trips knowing that everything is paid for upfront, which makes for a less stressful holiday, notes travel consultant Ellen Paderson, the founder of Smiles and Miles Travel.
Paderson has traveled to nearly all of the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Not all all-inclusive resorts are created equal, she says, especially when it comes to pricing and the definition of all-inclusive.
"Travelers should ask their travel consultant to get the bottom line to avoid surprises," said Paderson, who has worked in the travel industry for 20 years. "Of course, if you like trying local restaurants, exploring other locales off the resort, touring, etc., the all-inclusive option removes much of the spontaneity that can make nice memories, too."
Some all-inclusive resorts offer many extras that aren’t included in the rate, such as spa treatments, golf, and baby-sitting. Paderson’s favorite all-inclusive resorts include those that offer scuba diving at no extra cost, secluded, intimate resorts for romantic getaways, family resorts with many activities, and getaways with great food.
Despite the myth that all-inclusive resorts have bad, cookie-cutter, food-court dining and predicable buffet fare, many offer a truly luxurious culinary experience.