10 Quick Tips to Enjoy Your All Inclusive Vacation- By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
1. Pick the BEST RESORT for Your Vacation- Often, all-inclusive resorts cater to specific groups of travelers looking for trips like lush Caribbean vacations or an exciting Mexico getaways. Traveling as a couple and looking for romance, relaxation, and a distinct lack of being splashed by kids jumping into the pool over and over again? Consider booking at an adult-only property (no kids allowed- should ensure a fairly quiet, relaxing environment). Traveling with kids that like to jump into the pool over and over again? Look for resorts featuring pools and activities geared toward children, or have special children’s programs/schedules of events, so you can steal away a few moments of quiet time with your honey.
2. Double Check Your Vacation Plans- Sometimes mistakes can be made, even with the best intentions made by your travel consultant. Make sure the dates, and flights are correct. Don’t forget to check-in online with the airlines and pay baggage fees at least 24 hours prior to your departure. Make sure each person’s full legal names (as listed on his or her passport) and dates of birth are correct. Last minute changes are very hard to do and sometimes fees are incurred to make any changes.
3. Get to know Your All Inclusive Resort- Make sure to do your research (either beforehand or via the resort's helpful front desk staff) on which activities, meals, drinks, entertainment and more are included in your package. Also ask them for some tips on which are the best things to do, places to go, special events held during the time your there! Some mega-resorts are like a small city, so take advantage of the ample amenities and wonderful activities on the property, before considering a venture offsite. Hey, you’ve paid for it already, you might as well maximize your time there. Knowing your onsite options helps prevent you from feeling like you've missed something. You don't want to miss out on free relaxing yoga session and an exciting snorkeling adventure. Then, if you're still itching for fun, ask what's available in the general area (many times called excursions) of your resort.
4. Befriend the Concierge- If you are looking to adventure off property, make sure to chat it up with the concierge to find out what resources the hotel offers— often, they can hook you up with a shuttle, connect you with tour companies or simply direct you toward the best local attractions. Take advantage of their wealth of knowledge — after all that’s what they’re there for!
5. Pick Your Travel Time Accordingly- Traveling off season (i.e. avoiding spring break or the famous peak summer travel) can help you to avoid potential pitfalls of all-inclusive travel, like the ultra-crowded pools and super booked-up restaurants. If you’re looking for a relaxing retreat without having to get up at 6 a.m. to reserve a pool chair, consider booking in the off season (no one likes the chair hogs). The spring months after spring break (mid-April, all of May, and the beginning of June) are great times to visit an all-inclusive without the rush of travelers.
6. Make Early Dinner Reservations- Here’s a Hot Tip from those who have been on many All Inclusive Vacations: Many of the non-buffet, higher-end restaurants get booked up quickly for reservations — so make them, and make them early. Nobody wants to end up scrounging for chips, salsa and guacamole at the pool bar.
7. Do Indulge in their Room Service- If it’s included in the “all-inclusive” experience, then why not eat breakfast in bed or chips and salsa while watching late-night TV? This is the kind of stuff vacations are made of. Talking about making sweet memories with your loved ones!
8. Perhaps take your Food To-Go- Ask if the restaurant will package your meal(s) up to go, and have a nice, impromptu picnic on the beach. Some will, and some won’t, but if yours is OK with you taking the meal to go, it will make for a nice romantic night, or if you’re not lucky enough to get away without the children, a good way for your kiddos to let off steam. Or, maybe it’s a great excuse for not changing out of your bathing suit.
9. Figure out the Tipping Policy- Tipping can be a very tricky business at all-inclusive resorts (many times it’s included in your vacation price) and unfortunately there is no “best practice” as it differs at each and every property — at some, employees aren’t allowed to accept tips, and at others they are appreciated, but not expected. If you’re not able to find information on the hotel’s policy beforehand (guest reviews will often mention how it’s handled onsite), feel free to ask the front desk, concierge or observe how other guests are handling tipping once you’re there.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you Need/Want- As with the above tip, don’t be nervous to ask for what you want (or need). Kids amenities (cribs, cots, toys), bubble baths, hot sauce at the buffet — these resorts are often committed to providing a truly all-inclusive, wonderful and ultra relaxing experience, so don’t feel bad asking for things you might not know are available. But please, always be nice — the worst outcome is they don’t have it, so you might as well go ahead and ask.
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