All inclusive resort vacations have been a popular way for travelers to enjoy stress-free holidays and save money in recent years.
With all the amenities included, vacationers can relax and enjoy their trip instead of having to worry about paying for food or drinks.
But are these trips always worth it?
This blog post will discuss whether all inclusive vacations are worth the price of admission (especially if you don’t drink), the type of travelers all inclusives are best for, why people like them and pros and cons to help you decide if this type of vacation is worth it for you.
Whether you’re planning to holiday in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or other parts of Caribbean, these all inclusive travel tips are relevant across most countries.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!
Why People Like All Inclusive Resorts
People love all inclusive vacations for convenient, hassle free trip planning and the ultimate way to relax and unwind for a week or two.
All you have to do is pack your bags and show up, and a great holiday is pretty much guaranteed.
P.S. – here’s a checklist of what to pack for an all-inclusive vacation.
Whether all-inclusive vacations are a good value or not depends on what you’re looking to get out of a holiday.
Since everything is paid for in one package price, there’s no need to worry about keeping track of how much you’re spending on vacation.
Guests at all inclusive resorts are often treated like royalty, which makes it feel like a true vacation, compared to booking a small boutique hotel.
Ever had that feeling when you get home from a trip and you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? All inclusives allow you to completely unwind and relax.
Chris and I often tag on an all-inclusive stay at the beginning or end of an adventurous trip, instead of the entire trip.
Many travelers also enjoy that all inclusive resorts appeal to a wide range of people.
They lend themselves well to traveling with a group, and they’re even a great option for solo travelers who are concerned about safety.
For instance, places like Puerto Vallarta are generally considered quite safe, but there are still scams to watch out for.
Others just want to enjoy hot, tropical weather from the comfort of their resort pool and not have to worry about safety.
Resorts are very familiar to North Americans which appeals to some travelers that don’t want to feel like a fish out of water.
Types of Travelers All Inclusives Are Best For
Families and Large Groups
All inclusive vacations are perfect for families with young children since many resorts have been designed with them in mind to include waterpark-style pools.
Since all inclusive resorts are designed to cater to all kinds of people (many of which don’t eat or drink as much as others), they’re great for families with small kids who may not be interested in eating at highly-rated restaurants every night.
The Barceló Maya Beach is perfect for families, with a kids club, waterpark, 18-hole mini golf and even a bowling alley, there’s tons to do for everyone.
They’re also a popular choice for families with teenage children.
Parents can feel safe letting their teens explore the resort on their own without worrying they’ll get in trouble (resorts have high security at entry and exit points, and wristband colors identify ages for the bartenders).
Staying at a large resort is a great way for large groups to vacation together.
The buffets and onsite restaurants can accommodate large parties who want to dine together.
Compare this to local restaurants that usually need reservations well in advance.
Traveling with friends isn’t always easy, but resort vacations allow you to be together as much or as little as you want.
With everything included in the price of your trip (food, drinks, activities), there’s nothing to think about except relaxing with your significant other.
Plus, adult-only all inclusive resorts offer a whole new level of luxury and peace and quiet.
I mean, look at the overwater bungalows at the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica – it doesn’t get much more honeymoon than that!
I loved my stay at the adults-only Secrets Huatulco. We were able to get a great deal on our trip.
This is a 5-star adult only resort that you can book for well under $350 per night.
If you’re not booking airfare, I recommend keeping an eye on booking.com prices, as deals come up all the time.
If you’re thinking about the Huatulco area, I’ve written a post which compares the top 3 all-inclusive resorts there.
First Time Travelers
I recommend all inclusive resorts to someone heading out on their first ‘real’ vacation.
With airfare, transportation and accommodation all part of one package, there’s no need to worry about booking everything separately.
Resort holidays are very safe and many resorts have onsite staff who speak English and will help you book excursions, find restaurants and make other travel arrangements if needed.
All inclusives are a great option for solo travelers, especially in countries that don’t have the safest reputation.
While the cost is higher for a solo traveler (as room occupancy is based on two people), sometimes the safety factor outweighs the price.
And, it’s not weird at all to go to an all inclusive resort alone! In fact, my husband and I have met several solo travelers while staying at a resort.
It’s very easy to make friends with everyone at the swim up bars!
What is the point of an all inclusive?
For most resorts, an all-inclusive package means that everything from accommodations, food and drinks, to activities and entertainment is included in the price.
People enjoy paying one price for everything for a worry free vacation.
There are plenty of reasons why all inclusive vacations are so appealing.
For one, people love the convenience and simplicity of having everything included so they don’t have to stop and think about how much each thing costs or if they want another drink or not.
It’s nice to be able to just relax and let someone else take care of things.
There are many people who wouldn’t want to do anything other than lay around by the pool all day, so an all inclusive vacation is the ideal type of holiday.
How much should you spend on an all inclusive?
For a mid-range nice resort, $1500 per person is what you can expect to pay for a one-week stay.
All inclusive prices vary by resort and location, however the average price for an all-inclusive vacation ranges from $200 to $600/day (remember this usually includes airfare).
There are cheaper all inclusive resorts out there, but their quality can reflect the lower price point.
If you’re really crunching the numbers, take a look at the area you’d like to visit. Find the average price per night of the types of hotels you would consider staying at based on your budget.
Next, take a look at Google reviews of local restaurants to get an indication of the average price of a meal.
Tally this up for a week and include your airfare to get an idea of how much it would cost you.
For example, on one of our most recent trips, Chris and I spent 10 days traveling through the Yucatan.
For our last night of accommodation we wanted to be somewhere close to the Cancun airport.
I found a great deal at the Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort for about $250 per night.
We were going to be at the resort for a total of almost 24 hours so instead of paying for a hotel for $100 per night, we opted for the extra cost which included dinner, breakfast, lunch, drinks and a complimentary ride to the airport.
We actually saved money on the last day of our Mexico trip by staying at an all inclusive!
Are all inclusive vacations worth it if you don’t drink?
All inclusives are worth it if you plan to drink several alcoholic beverages in a day.
If it’s anything more than mimosa in the morning, a beer or cocktail or two in the afternoon, wine with dinner and maybe a nightcap, all inclusive is going to save you money.
P.S. Here are the best 55 drinks you can order at an all inclusive resort if you want to browse the list first.
If you’re a light drinker, it may be cheaper to book your own flights and hotel separately and eat/drink off the resort. It also depends on the country and the area you are staying.
For example, in Mexico, it’s often quite cheap to pay for drinks at a restaurant, especially if you visit during happy hour.
But in places like Costa Rica, alcoholic drinks can be much more expensive.
I would advise against using alcohol as the deciding factor to determine whether an all inclusive resort is worth it if you’re a non-drinker.
This is only one thing to consider out of many.
Often when you buy an all-inclusive package, your airfare is much cheaper than if you were to book air & hotel separately.
These types of packages also include airport transfers which can get expensive on their own.
Especially if you’re traveling to a resort in the Mayan Riviera region, sometimes you’ll be traveling an hour or more from the Cancun airport to get to your resort.
How to Choose Whether and All Inclusive Resort is right for you
As with any vacation experience, there are pros and cons to staying at an all inclusive resort:
Pros of staying at an all-inclusive vacation:
Everything is paid for so it’s easy to keep within your budget. And if you find a deal, they can even be quite cheap.
They’re perfect for people who don’t like to plan trips. They’re hassle free and feel like a true vacation where you can let go and unwind. All you have to do is pack your bags and show up for sand, sun and cocktails!
Resort guests usually have access to private beaches that are well-maintained. If you don’t like to be bothered by beach vendors, you’ll find very few along the beaches at all-inclusive resorts.
All Inclusive resorts aren’t for everyone, though.
Cons of an all inclusive:
One of the biggest downsides is that all inclusive resorts aren’t the best way to experience the local culture.
Since these resorts are so large, many are built away from local communities to encourage you to buy excursion trips.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you won’t be experiencing the regional culture the way you would by heading out on your own adventure.
If you want to head off the resort and experience local culture, I recommend staying at an all-inclusive somewhere near Puerto Vallarta as opposed to Cancun/Mayan Riviera.
There are plenty of small beach towns like Bucerias and Sayulita that you can visit to get a better flavor of Mexico.
Sometimes you miss out on really neat hidden gems, like this eco resort we stayed at in Mexico’s Mayan jungle.
If you’re a cultured foodie, you may find food at all inclusive resorts quite bland and boring. People often report getting bored of the food after the first 3 or 4 days.
Overindulgence happens very easily since there’s access to food and drink 24/7.
Since there’s a lot of wastage at these resorts, they don’t necessarily foster responsible tourism, if this is something that concerns you.
Many of them are doing their best to do away with straws and minimize water usage, but they’re often far from perfect.
Are all inclusives a good deal?
When asking if an all inclusive resort would be a good deal for you, it really depends on you and your preferences; it’s not just about value.
If you crunch the numbers you might find that you can spend less if you do your flights, hotels, meals and drinks separately.
From a pure financial perspective, you can have a week or 2 week long vacation for much cheaper. But there is something to be said about the convenience of paying one price.
All inclusives offer you a hassle-free vacation and the ability to take a break from planning and organizing.
For example, if you’ve never been to Mexico, but have always wanted to go, an all inclusive resort will take away any fear and hesitation of going somewhere new and unknown.
You’ll be able to let loose, enjoy the sun and explore without having to worry about anything.
If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation that makes planning easy, an all inclusive is your best bet.
More All Inclusive Resort & Mexico Posts:
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