All-inclusive trips are really anything but. Find out about some of the expenses you need to be ready to pay for when you take your all-inclusive vacation.
All-inclusive travel is a bit of a misnomer. While some basics are included in your package price, many more options and comfort items cost extra. Here are just a few of the most common items you will be expected to pay out of pocket for, no matter if you are going on a cruise or staying at an all-inclusive resort.
Just like certain airlines charging for beverages, all-inclusive travel groups are doing the same now. Sodas, specialty coffees and alcoholic beverages will all find their way onto your bill and at prices you would expect from a restaurant, not from the local grocery store. To avoid these charges some of the larger cruise lines and all-inclusive locations are now offering drink packages you can buy before you leave for your trip. This way you pay one flat fee based on the number of days you will be traveling and get a particular amount of beverages in that time frame. This could range from unlimited soda and one specialty coffee a day to unlimited alcoholic beverages depending on your budget. Inquire with your travel group about special packages and find out which one fits your budget and your needs.
Some basic entertainment is often included in the base price of a cruise or all-inclusive resort, but not all. Special shows or performances by headline entertainment may cost extra and ticket prices can range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on the performance. The best way to avoid these extra charges is to go into your trip being comfortable with the offerings included in your base package, that way you will be less tempted to pay for unwanted and often unimpressive upgrades.
Anytime you get a guide to take you somewhere it will cost you extra. This goes for cruises and all-inclusive resorts, too. The excursion may end up costing you much more than a simply taxi ride to a place you want to visit in the city you are vacationing. The best way to avoid paying for excursions is to do your homework ahead of time. Check a travel guide out at the local public library or find one used and do some research to find which sites are on your “must see” list. Once you have these sites picked out, see if there are any reasonably priced excursions that are focused just on those attractions, but if not get to planning your own excursion using local taxis and your own curiosity to guide you through the sights. Even if your travel group offers an excursion to your must see locals that does not mean you have to go on the official excursion. You may have more fun exploring on your own.
Special Meals or Requests
Fine dining has been brought up a notch on many popular cruise lines and at all-inclusive resorts, but it comes at a price. To eat at the new higher-end restaurants will cost you a pretty penny. To throw your for a loop, some all-inclusives have even added popular fast food chains to their culinary offerings, but these are not included in your base price either. If you are a true foodie it may be worth the added cost to enjoy these more specialized restaurants where you can have your meal customized to your heart’s content, but be ready to pay for the privilege.
Souvenirs and Shopping
Of course the souvenirs do not come in your all-inclusive package, but shopping for them can be done anywhere. By hunting for the best bargain outside of the resort you may end up saving money and finding more unique keepsakes to remind you of your vacation. If you are cruising, some ships offer a “discount table” towards the end of the trip so wait to buy any souvenirs or other items until then to get a possible discount.
Posed or Professional Photos
Dinners and entertainment events are often crawling with the resort’s professional photographers. Everyone wants beautiful reminders of their vacation, but limit it to one of the professional photos to keep costs down. Ask your table-neighbors to take fun relaxed photos of you and your travel companion. Take your own photos by holding the camera out and saying “cheese” or making funny faces. These less posed photos will be just as fun to look back at and remember as the fancy ones with the perfect background.
No matter where you are headed on vacation, you are expected to tip. While extra tipping is warranted for exceptional service, there is still a minimum daily tip that is anticipated for certain service people you meet while on an all-inclusive vacation. From the housekeeping staff, to the waiters, to even the tour coordinators, tips are expected almost everywhere. When you consider the relatively low income these resort employees make, tips are not just helpful, they are crucial to making ends meet. Many resorts and cruise lines are offering a flat daily gratuity you can add to your ship tab and pay at the end of your stay. These daily rates are a good minimum, but be ready with cash to tip for exceptional service. If you encounter great service early on in your trip, make sure to tip then because it can benefit you by ensuring the same exceptional service for the rest of your stay.
Getting To and From the All Inclusive Location
Transportation to and from the airport, the cruise port or the island you are visiting are sometimes included in more generous packages, but not always. Read the fine print to make sure this is something you will or will not have to pay for. Also, research how the transportation occurs because if you are paying out-of-pocket for resort transportation you may find it less expensive to use a local taxi or shuttle service instead.
If you have issues knowing when to stop at the craps table, your best bet on vacation will be to avoid it at all costs. For those people who can splurge a little on some gambling and walk away, just make sure you go with a set budget in mind for this particular form of entertainment and stick to your guns when it is time to leave the casino.
Many all-inclusive resorts offer self-service laundry facilities that can save you plenty of money if you need to do laundry while you are on vacation. Dry cleaning services are usually $2-3 per item, but if you run a load of wash at the self-service laundry room it will cost you the same amount to run an entire washer full. The best plan is to pack enough to get you through your trip without having to do laundry at all, though because no one wants to spend their precious time in paradise watching the washing machine run a spin cycle.
Taking vacation may not mean taking a break from the internet. Expect daily connectivity charges at your all-inclusive resort, if the amenity is even available. Also expect speeds to be slower than you are used to.
Health insurance is a tangled web of rules and regulations that mean the chances you are covered while on vacation out of your country of origin are slim. Prepare for the possibility you may get sick or injured by purchasing health insurance that will cover you anywhere for the duration of your vacation. Trip insurance is another option to consider, though be careful because many popular trip insurance providers skimp on actual coverage. Whether you are looking at health or trip insurance the most important thing is to read the fine print.