All-Inclusive Vacation Packages - Are They Worth It?

by author David Jones

Ever tried piecing together a vacation all by yourself? Time consuming, tedious, and tiring. Whether you’re planning a holiday getaway for the whole gang or a solo budget-travel trip for yourself, travel planning can be a major pain. From your flight, to your hotel booking, to your itinerary, and more, there are countless elements you need to consider if you want to guarantee a seamless vacation.


So it’s really hard to deny the allure of all-inclusive vacation packages. Offering you a complete holiday bonanza in exchange of your cash, an all-inclusive vacation package is exactly what it sounds like. All you need to do is pay and show up – no need to plan, research, or schedule anything – the organizers will have that covered.


Now the question – are all-inclusive travel packages all they’re cracked up to be? Here’s the good and the bad.


The Good Stuff


Some hardcore travel enthusiasts might criticize individuals who take up all-inclusive resort packages, saying it doesn’t really qualify as travel. But as we all know – traveling is traveling, whether or not you do the planning yourself. There are unique aspects to these convenient and complete experiences that can make them the ideal for certain people, and they include the following:


Good for Staying Within Budget


When’s the last time you got home from a vacation with the exact amount you anticipated still sitting in your bank account? Right. Typical forms of travel will sap you of your cash because you never really know what to expect once you reach your destination. Maybe you discovered a hidden island paradise that can only be reached by private boat, or maybe you found a sprawling network of foodstuff that you just couldn’t pass up the chance to try.



With an all-inclusive resort package, you basically won’t have to worry about spending more than you planned. All of the activities and food to keep you satisfied can be found at the resort – and it’s all included in the original amount that you pay. So aside from a little extra for souvenirs, you can expect that you won’t go overboard.


Food and Drinks are Everywhere



It’s easy to feel famished when you’re wandering through an unknown destination. In fact, most backpackers will find that food and drinks will be one of the biggest expenses of even the simplest, DIY solo adventure. And if you think you can escape that problem by going on a cruise, it helps to know that not all food and drinks on a cruise are free.


With an all-inclusive holiday package though, that ceases to be a problem. There really is no point in bringing your wallet along with you as you frolic about the property – food and drinks will be littered across the entire resort, and they’ll all be free of charge. That’s because you already paid for them when you availed the package.


The lines between breakfast, lunch, and dinner are blurred out by tons of snacks and drinks. Guests can find these generous spreads typically anywhere on the property, so there’s really no such thing as going hungry when you book an all-inclusive holiday.


Entertainment and Leisure Abound



Just because you’ll be spending your time within the property throughout the duration of your stay, doesn’t mean you’ll run out of things to do. With more fun activities and events than a 5-star cruise, all-inclusive resort packages serve you a range of different activities that are sure to keep you and your group thoroughly entertained.


From sports to collections of board games and movies, these resorts roll out the big guns to make sure you never run of anything to do during your stay. They’ll even host special events throughout your booking, giving you unique entertainment that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.


Enjoy concerts, mini-plays, stand-up comedy, and more when you take up an all-inclusive resort package. If there are kids in your group, don’t think they’d be left out. In fact, resorts will often make sure that there are activities and entertainment options for all age groups, so no one will be left feeling bored.


Cheaper in General



Booking airplane tickets and hotel rooms, and deciding on a budget for entrance fees, food, souvenirs, and commute expenses can be far more expensive than an all-inclusive resort package. With a single fee, the price you pay can cover everything from your flight down to the food you eat, and when you do the math, it will all come out to a much more manageable final cost.


If you’re trying to plan a getaway for your family, an all-inclusive resort package can help you save a monumental amount, giving you access to luxurious amenities and hotel rooms despite being fairly cheap. Crazy as it might be, a 4-week all-inclusive resort package for a family of 5 can be way more affordable than a trip to Disneyland.


Convenience and Simplicity


Perhaps the biggest advantage that draws people into booking an all-inclusive holiday package is the convenience and simplicity of the experience. There’s no need to calculate dates, no need to compare and contrast hotel rooms, no need to research food options to make sure your kids will eat while you’re away, and no need to piece together an itinerary that you’re not even certain will satisfy your group.


For last minute travel planners or for those who just don’t want to bother themselves with the process of travel planning, all-inclusive holiday packages can be a convenient and effortless solution that brings a premier vacation experience minus all the hullabaloo.


High Level of Safety and Security



Although guests are allowed to leave the resort to wander and explore the world out yonder, the resorts that host these packages make it so that you won’t even want to do so. They provide you everything you need right inside the confines of the property, and make sure that you’re thoroughly fed and entertained so you won’t feel the desire to wander through an unknown location. For families with restless teenagers, this eliminates the risk of having them leave and explore the potential dangers outside.


On top of that, resort security will often implement strict regulations to monitor the comings, goings, and the activities of the people inside the resort. Outsiders will often be restricted from entering to maintain the safety of the guests. And as you might have expected, these places are heavily monitored by security cameras. So you won’t have to face the same dangers that you would had you chosen to explore the unknown locality by yourself.


The Not-So-Good Stuff


Is there such a thing as the perfect vacation? Well, it’s all relative. So while the all-inclusive resort package might be perfect for some travelers and families, they’ll be the polar opposite for others. Although these resorts try to provide their guests a lavish experience leaving no room for want, that doesn’t mean they won’t sometimes fall short or miss the mark entirely. Here are some of the disadvantages of an all-inclusive vacation package.


Is It Really ‘Travel’?



One of the most common criticisms you’ll hear about all-inclusive vacation packages is that it’s not actually ‘travel’. Why is that? Well, aside from the plane ride necessary to get to your destination, you’ll be cooped up most of the time within the confines of the resort property. That means no rubbing elbows with the local crowd, no sampling local street food, and no immersing yourself in the cultural experience.


For some people, travel can only be considered travel if there’s a crossing of cultural boundaries. Some travelers live for the experience of learning something new about a completely different location, and all-inclusive resort packages might prevent you from doing that.


The Quality of Food



Yes, there will be loads of food and drinks everywhere. Every corner you turn, you’ll find a brand new spread of snacks and drinks just waiting for you to feast to your heart’s content. But while the quantity might be overwhelming and lavish, the quality might not be as great.


Food and drinks are mass produced for these types of packages because of the sheer number of people that the resort needs to feed. So you can expect that the quality might have to take a blow in order for them to meet the requirements for volume. Sure, there might be a so-so pork chop available at the buffet, but don’t expect 5-star hotel food quality especially if you’re paying for a more affordable package.


Throngs of People



There really is no denying the allure of an all-inclusive holiday package. And when you see the throngs of people at the resort with you, you’ll find that the package was appealing to a whole lot more than just you. These resorts can get packed with people, making it hard to find a place to sit back, relax, and unwind, if that’s the kind of vacation experience you were interested in.


Keep in mind – these packages are affordable and convenient which is why you probably made the booking. So most folks looking for the same benefits of effortless planning and cost-effectiveness will flock towards the promise of the package. What’s worse, many of the guests who find these deals most alluring are families with small children. So brace yourself for a whole lot of little people running and screaming in your vicinity for the duration of the vacation.


The Limits of “All-Inclusive”



When you read the words ‘all-inclusive’, what do you think that means? Well, of course, airfare, hotel rooms, food, drinks, and entertainment will be included in the bill. But there are limitations to the term, and sometimes guests fail to read the fine print. Seeking to know what a resort means when it says ‘all-inclusive’ should save you from having your expectations unmet.


One of the biggest downers? Internet connectivity. Sure, WiFi will be available at the resort but it won’t be included in your package. Yes, you will have to pay extra to be able to access the wireless network at the resort, and yes, the fees may be pretty eye-popping but that’s just how they try to increase their profit since the packages are so cheap.


Other things like branded international drinks, babysitting services, and massage services all come with their own separate price tags. So it pays to manage your expectations and anticipate that all-inclusive won’t always mean all-inclusive. Bring a little extra money with you so you can access all the services and amenities available, especially those that might require a separate payment.


Failing to Support Locals



When you go out and escape the confines of structured travel to wing it with the locals, you’ll end up paying small businesses for their time, their services, and their products. So your money goes to families, putting food on their tables and supporting their livelihood which can be incredibly satisfying from a moral perspective on top of being culturally immersive. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about an all-inclusive resort package.


Typically, the resorts that host these types of deals are big chain brands with hundreds of other properties across the globe. So you end up funneling your money to feed their operations – which were probably doing just fine even without you having to chip in. When you think about it, travel is more than just an opportunity to expand your horizons – it can be a venue for you to support the local economy and help families meet their daily financial needs.


Final Thoughts


So, all-inclusive holiday packages – are they worth it? It all really depends. As travelers, we all have our own unique preferences and standards for a vacation experience. So while the all-inclusive resort package might not click for someone who wants to immerse themselves into the local culture, that doesn’t mean it’s no good for anyone at all.


Families with kids who want to take a break without dealing with the logistics of having children in tow can reap the benefits of convenience, safety, and fun through these vacation packages. Those who prefer the ambiance and experience of a country-club-slash-hotel might also be especially satisfied by an all-inclusive resort package.


So when it comes right down to it, it’s a matter of taste. Sure, the package won’t bring you any closer to the locals. But when all is said and done, you would have had a fun-filled experience in a lavish hotel resort with tons of memories to bring home.