4 Reasons Why I LOVE All-Inclusive Vacations & Why Every Traveler Should Consider Them

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All-Inclusive Vacation Positives

All-Inclusive Vacation Positives

Who doesn’t love a good all-inclusive vacation? Well apparently a lot of you. Last week Mark covered four reasons he loathes all-inclusive vacations, so I thought it would be interesting to counter some of his arguments. These types of vacations aren’t for everyone, but they definitely have their positives.

Travel vs. Vacation

All-Inclusive Vacation Positives
Sleeping in London’s Stanstead Airport.

All-inclusive vacations are vacations (not travel) and that is both a good and a bad thing. I am a “traveler” and have been to about 80 countries over the past 11 years, but I still like a good vacation. I have backpacked, ridden on uncomfortable buses/trains/boats/planes/tuktuks/etc. and have seen incredible sites, eaten amazing foods and learned about fantastic cultures. I have stayed in $5 per night guest houses (and some 5 star hotels too) and slept on more than my fair share of airport floors. I love it, but it’s not generally what I would call relaxing.

Unfortunately most travelers look down on all-inclusive vacations as beneath them. As if they are taking away from all of the above by sitting in a chair sipping margaritas for a few days. They argue that going to Mexico and sitting mindlessly on a beach is a crime. Should people travel to Mexico for example when not on a “vacation”? Absolutely, Mexico is INCREDIBLE, but that doesn’t take away from the therapeutic effects of all-inclusive Tequila Time.


All-Inclusive Vacation Positives

Traveling is tough work. Complicated itineraries, visiting tourist site after tourist site and being bombarded with strange and new things can be exhausting. Sometimes you just want to go somewhere prettier than where you live and mindlessly exist. All-inclusives are amazing for this. You don’t have to cook or even worry about finding the perfect restaurant. You can try new foods and drinks since it’s all included. Always wanted to try a that strange blue drink everyone else has without paying extra for it? Want the thrill of ordering TWO appetizers at dinner? Do it! 

Related: Hotel Review – Hyatt Zilara Cancun: Paradise for 25,000 Points?

Great Value

All-Inclusive Vacation Positives
Delicious tacos at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.

All-inclusives can be an amazing value. Most have kids clubs for children and if you like to drink alcohol then you can save a ton of money on booze. While the quality of food/drink available varies widely depending on the level of property you visit (cheaper AIs have really cheap booze), in general you will save a ton over visiting more expensive beach destinations such as Hawaii. I mean I love me some Hawaii, but I can stay in an all-inclusive in Mexico for less money than a normal resort there. And the guacamole is better! 🙂

Great For Families

All-Inclusive Vacation Positives
Ocean Riviera Paradise. Beaches + kids = fun.

Whether you are just taking your kids or vacationing with your entire extended family, all-inclusive resorts represent the perfect option. Kids can have some sort of freedom to explore and eat while parents and other family members can dine and enjoy the beauty of the beach. The first time we stayed in an all-inclusive – as a three day break from backpacking through Yucatan – we fell in love.

On that vacation from travel my son was able to have a little freedom and eat kid friendly food whenever he wanted. He was able to take advantage of the pool and everything the kid’s club had to offer. On the flip side my wife and I were able to get a break from him and just float around making occasional visits to the swim up bar. In a complicated traveler’s life, this was the perfect place.

Are There Downsides?

All-Inclusive Vacation Positives
Back to traveling after a few days at an all-inclusive. Coba Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. 2007.

Mark makes some good points in his post and I certainly can’t dispute them all. Yes, all-inclusives can be boring, yes they discourage exploration and yes the food can be hit or miss. With all of that said, if you find the right property and are in the right mindset, then this type of vacation can not only be a great value, but it can be a memorable experience. Just a different kind.

Finally, I’ll close with this. Should you only go on all-inclusive holidays? NO! Go out there and see the world too. 🙂

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  1. This is a really specious analysis. All inclusive in Mexico generally cost $100 per person per day more than equivalent just for lodging. And never a good deal with kids or adults who don’t plan to drink heavily each day. Generally the food is unimpressive becaus they have a captive audience.

  2. I find if you can get a half-board rate (or pay an upgrade for one at check-in) that can sometimes be the best of both worlds at a 5* (or close to 5* property). But, in most cases, if you already get breakfast due to status (or FHR) it’s not really a great deal. To me personally, it’s not really a “deal” if the food and beverage are not somewhat premium. Might sound funny, but I rather get a really good bottle (or five) in duty-free and fill my small plastic water bottle with vodka and add to my great alcohol-free fresh fruit drinks at a 5* property; than get “lousy” well-drinks at an all-inclusive. I also rather mix-up my food&beverage spend. I’ll happily drink a bottle of Champagne (duty-free, once again) on my terrace with just some cheese and crackers and other local grocery items (small stuff) and save up for the Michelin Star dinners on other nights… Most important, IMHO, is a really good breakfast included… and that’s my favourite thing about luxury/5* properties.


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