6 Tips for Booking All-Inclusive Package

Posted on 16. Jul, 2013 by in Canary Islands, Europe Travel, Travel Tips

While I’m by no means an expert on all-inclusive packages or holidays having only done this once, I wish I’d knew a little more about this type of vacation before I booked my trip in my I’m-exhausted-I-need-vitamin-D-and-free-cocktails frenzy. My vacation was amazing, mind you - but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been even better.

Let’s see what I overlooked.

All-Inclusive Package

1. Children vs Adults

That would be my biggest mistake. I was so excited to go on vacation that I completely forgot about the resort’s policy regarding families. I don’t have kids and even though I’m fairly tolerant of children in daily life, it wasn’t until after a few days by the pool that it got to me.

It’s one thing to have one kid yelling on the bus ride home, it’s an entirely different one to have 31 of them wailing at once, each for a different reason. I know some parents will want to throw me (rather big) rocks — but the truth is, I really don’t care for pools with questionable yellow spots and screaming infants. Ain’t nothing soothing about that.

My bad. I really should have booked an adult-only resort. Lesson learned!

2. Buffet, A La Carte, Or…

Trust me when I say that when you don’t have anything else on your plate (pun intended), eating takes a whole new importance. You will overeat at meal times, and think about food in between meal times. Especially if you booked in a resort that has several à la carte restaurants or a delicious buffet.

One thing to keep in mind is that à la carte restaurant tend to fill up quite fast and reservations are mandatory — check with the front desk upon arrival to make sure you get a spot, especially if you’re visiting in high season. What I particularly like about these restaurants is the possibility to taste some of the best local specialties and new flavors. Yum!

Buffets tend to be crowd-pleasers and quite varied in order to appeal to the different nationalities of visitors. The resort I was at in Tenerife had a slight German-English twist to a rather traditional Spanish menu, and not once was I disappointed.

3. Think Outside The Box Resort

While I definitely see the appeal in getting up at ridiculous o’clock and tanning all day, it’s also fun to get out and explore a bit. See what the locals are like, marvel at the traditional architecture, and get a taste of the daily life. You never know what you will discover along the way, be it a delicious restaurant or a lifelong friend.

Especially in Tenerife - there are SO many things to do on the island, from hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, village exploring and museum hopping. Impossible to be bored!

All-Inclusive Package

4. Size Matters

Well of course it does. But that’s not what I meant! You naughty people.

The size of the resort can either be an advantage or a hassle - I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m on vacation, walking more than 1 minute to where I need to be is nothing short of unacceptable. Laziness is my number 1 rule when I don’t have deadlines (and also when I have a margarita in hand). If I realize I forgot sunscreen in the room by the time I get to the pool — 5 minutes later — I will be too lazy to go get it and get badly sunburned and then complain about said sunburn.

Make sure to have a look at the resort’s map before you book, and pinpoint where the main buildings are.

5. Read The Fine Print

Is the WiFi free? Are all meals included? Are taxes included? Are there activities on site?

Not all resorts are the same. They all have different rules, privileges and quirks that make it impossible to have expectations. Make sure you ask about all these  details (which can seem quite trivial at first but can quickly ruin a vacation) before you hand out your credit card. You will only have a more relaxed vacation!

Update: Thanks to my reader Lisa, I realized I forgot to mention an important point: gratuities. Make sure you know exactly what is and what isn’t included in the purchase price. I strongly suggest picking resorts where tips are included, for two reasons: no awkwardness, and no need to carry your wallet!

sunsets from tenerife

6. Just Do It

You know how some people will say “Ugh, you’re going to a resort? What the hell is wrong with you?”

F*ck ‘em.

While I will always support the value of exploratory travel, out-of-comfort zone adventures, sometimes, all you need is to leave your brain at the customs for a couple of days, and not think about anything other than beer and tanning. And that’s perfectly fine. Plus, as mentioned earlier, depending on where you go, you can even get to do both exploratory travel and lazy vacation!

What are your tips for booking all-inclusive packages and vacations? What is the ONE thing that is non-negotiable for you?

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6 Responses to “6 Tips for Booking All-Inclusive Package”

  1. Lisa

    16. Jul, 2013

    You’ve made some really good points Marie. And I’m 100% with you on the screaming kids at the pool! That’s the last thing I want when on a relaxing getaway.

    The only tip I would add to your list, in the fine print make sure you know the policies on gratuity for the resort. Some resorts will include this in the price and may even fire employees for accepting tips! Knowing their policy will help you avoid akward encounters with staff when it comes to tipping.

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    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      06. Aug, 2013

      That is such a great tip Lisa. Thanks for mentioning it!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Rachel

    16. Jul, 2013

    I’m glad I’ve found another travel blogger who doesn’t think all inclusive resorts are the spawn of the devil! Ha ha!

    One of the considerations for me is definitely which drinks are included in the package. It pays to know in advance so you don’t get a shock on arrival. I went to an all inclusive resort in Turkey and had read loads of reviews before we got there so I knew what to expect i.e. VERY limited alcohol was included and fruit juice was more like cordial.

    Our resort was adults-only and I have to say that it was a very nice feeling to leave the screaming kids at the airport :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      06. Aug, 2013

      I think it’s important to have both types of travel - relaxing and exploratory. But sometimes all a gal needs is a cocktail and a comfy chair :)

      Reply to this comment
  3. Jenny Truong

    19. Aug, 2013

    I have to agree with your response to the people who are negative and say “Ugh, you’re going to a resort? What the hell is wrong with you?”.
    Not everyone has the same travel tastes and it’s always good to try something different.

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