It’s no surprise that all-inclusive resorts are popular with families. They can be very affordable and are an easy vacation. Many of them are absolutely beautiful, with fabulous staff members that can feel like family members by the end of your family vacation.
If you are planning on visiting an all-inclusive, you’ll want to maximize your vacation. Here are our all inclusive resort tips and tricks.
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All Inclusive Resort Tips and Tricks
Tipping at All Inclusive Resorts
Do I need to tip at an all inclusive resort? This is one of the most popular questions, as guests want to make sure that they do the right thing. You’ll want to check the tipping policy in advance.
Some resorts, like Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort, include tips in the rate. There, you won’t need to tip the individual staff members.
At other resorts, however, tips are not included. At these resorts, tipping will be at your discretion. If you are going to be tipping, find out in advance what currency is best to tip in.
On our recent trip to Akumal, we found out that tips in US dollars were appreciated. For a six-night trip, I brought along $150 in one-dollar and five-dollar bills. While you may be able to get small bills from the front desk, it’s a good idea to get change before you go.
There are a number of staff members that you are likely to want to tip, including waitresses, waiters, bartenders, concierge, grounds crew (who go above and beyond), entertainers, housekeeping, outside tour guides, and activity staff. There may be other staff members that you decide to tip as well.
On our recent vacation, my kids were fairly autonomous – getting their own lunches and drinks throughout the day. About halfway through my first day, I realized they were getting their own stuff without tipping.
Luckily I was able to catch up with the staff that had helped them. I’d definitely recommend talking to your kids in advance so they know what they can and can’t have, and how they should.
How to Get the Best All Inclusive Deals
Definitely shop around before booking your all inclusive stay. Often, you’ll find that you can get a great deal by booking a package including airfare and transfers. That’s what we did for this most recent stay and were surprised at how affordable it was.
Check pricing from multiple sources, including airline vacation package deals. It’s also a good idea to look at several different flights.
For our trip, we got a better deal by having a layover. The direct flight was much more expensive. If you are going for a week or so, you may not mind the longer flight.
Learning About Your All Inclusive Resort
You’ll want to know everything there is to know about your all inclusive resort – including activities and amenities – before you go. Do your research in advance – checking out the resort’s Facebook group (if they have one), TripAdvisor reviews, and other websites for travel tips. If you have room preferences, you’ll want to do research in advance and learn how to make your requests early.
You’ll also want to find out about restaurants. If there are any reservations that you’ll need to make, don’t forget to do that before you go. Many all inclusives don’t take advance reservations for restaurants, but you’ll want to confirm that before your trip.
At Beaches Turks and Caicos, for instance, no reservations are accepted except for the teppanyaki restaurant Kimonos. However, you’ll have to make those reservations once you are on property. We do that as soon as we arrive.
If the restaurants are first-come-first-served, ask if they typically have a wait. Restaurants typically get busier later in the evening, so you may want to eat early. We usually end up eating earlier.
How to Enjoy an All Inclusive Resort
An all inclusive experience is definitely different from a regular resort experience. You’ll want to take advantage of all of the fabulous things that are included with your vacation stay. To really enjoy your vacation, take the time to understand everything there is to know about the resort before you go.
You’ll also want to spend much of your time at the resort – eating, drinking, and enjoying the amenities. So while I typically like to spend lots of time touring the town when I’m on vacation, I spend a lot more time at an all-inclusive resort.
If alcohol is included with your resort stay, be sure to pace yourself. You don’t want to ruin your vacation by drinking too much.
The same advice applies to food. While you can eat tons of food while you are at an all inclusive resort, don’t get sick.
Visiting a resort in a warm climate? Don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly, find shade, and drink water. I always like to find a nice shady spot and set up there. Then, whenever I need a break, or need to cool down, I have a spot already set.
I always have to make sure that the kids cover up when they are starting to get too much sun, and I encourage them to drink water throughout the day. This can sometimes be difficult, because they are usually not interested in stopping whatever they are doing.
But, it’s important. A bad sunburn can derail a vacation and can cause health problems down the road.
In my experience, the staff at all inclusive resorts is often one of the best parts. Take the time to get to know the resort employees, and remember to tip if it’s allowed.
What to Bring to an All Inclusive Resort
When visiting an all inclusive resort, you’ll want to pack all of the same things that you would pack for any regular hotel. But there are some things you won’t want to forget, especially because you may not leave the resort. Here are some things to add to your regular packing list:
- Cash for tips (small bills)
- Lots of sunscreen bottles (it can be expensive in the resort gift shop if you run out). I always bring extra.
- Reef safe sunscreen (if swimming in a protected area). I like this one from Amazon.
- Over the counter medications (you won’t want to leave the resort if you end up with stomach issues)
- Hair conditioner if not provided. For beach vacations, I like this leave-in conditioner with sun protection.
- Of course, you’ll also want to include everything you typically bring on vacation.
What are your all inclusive resort tips and tricks?