All-Inclusive Part 2: Behind the Scenes

So you are booking an all-inclusive vacation that may involve flying for the first time or visiting a foreign country for the first time. The trip is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. To give you an idea of what to expect, I am going to give you a rundown on all-inclusive experiences and some tips I recommend after my stays in Los Cabos, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

All-inclusive (AI) vacations can make foreign travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, or the Mediterranean easy. These resorts are meant to make your stay stress-free and to cater to your needs…to an extent, obviously. They are often secluded with their own security so it feels like you are staying in a private paradise. To ensure your trip goes as close to seamlessly as planned, I have outlined a few details to look out for when booking:

  1. Choose the Correct Booking. Many AI resorts have both AI and non-AI booking options. From personal experience, be sure to check and double-check that you selected the option you wanted. If worse comes to worse, you end up on the resort with a paid hotel room, but at bare minimum, you have to pay out of pocket for all your meals.
  1. Adult Only Resort. Yes, this is an option! If you are not traveling with kids or do not want to be surrounded by splashing kids in the pool and screaming kids at dinner, maybe consider one of these resorts. Sometimes they can be a bit pricier, but may be worth it based on your priorities. Our stay in Los Cabos was not an adult only resort, but did have a secluded adult-only pool. While the resort was only about one-third full during our stay, there were still a handful of kids having lots of fun in the general pool. 
  1. What’s Included? Some AI bookings will include the bare basics: your room, your unlimited meals, and access to most facilities. Others will include access to water sports “toys” (canoes, kayaks, etc.), free lessons (scuba diving, dancing, etc.), wifi, and more. Be sure to fully understand what amenities you want during your trip and hunt down the resort that can cater to your needs.
  1. Paying for Additional Leisure. On the resort grounds, there are often spas and extra treatments that cost additional money. I have found that manicures, pedicures, and massages seem to cost slightly less than these services in the U.S. (even in the States I have very limited experience with these, but tend to check out prices occasionally). But, I would recommend preparing a bit of a larger budget to account for any additional treatments you may be interested in while on vacation.

Once you are booked and have made it to your destination, there are a few things to consider and recognize when at a resort to show the right level of awareness in terms of treating the employees and safety. 

  1. Be Kind and Respectful. This applies to many different scenarios, but while you paid for a nice vacation with everything included, that does not mean that the employees are your personal servants the entire trip. I am not at all saying they should be treating you rudely, but they have hundreds if not thousands of visitors to report to and cater to. Please do not abuse your power as a guest. 
  1. Smart Tipping. While your AI rate says it includes gratuity, resort employees do work for tips as well. You will notice them going above and beyond in pampering you and conversing with you. If you enjoy and appreciate the treatment, feel free to hand over a bit more in tip. They are working hard at their job just as you do back at home, so if you have the luxury to go on a nice vacation, try to show some respect where deserved.
  1. Stay Aware. Per usual, if you are traveling, keep close watch over your passport and money (keep it and extra cash in the hotel room safe). Be careful what you leave in your beach bags near the pool or ocean when you are swimming. 
  1. Watch What You Drink. After you order, keep an eye on what is being put in your drink, and after it’s served to you, never leave your drink unattended. Also, water at the resorts should be safe, but depending on your location, they may have notices in the hotel bathrooms advising you not to drink the tap water.

I have one last bit of advice I recommend to resort goers. You are in a foreign country living a life of luxury, but if you really want to experience the country, consider exploring outside the main gates! Keep in mind the state and safety of the surrounding area, and know that the resort is a very polished experience. 

Cheap, expensive, adult-only, or something entirely different…I am sure it exists! If any of this sounds up your alley, start exploring your options! Find what fits your needs: or


“I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” – Shaw

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