10 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking an All-inclusive Vacation

These common mistakes are easy to avoid, if you come prepared.

Editor's Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

Planning a vacation is meant to improve your life, not add stress and hassle. Going the all-inclusive route can be the perfect solution, but only if you do it right. Some of the most common mistakes are easy to avoid if you do your research, so take it from us — these are the things you should never do when booking an all-inclusive vacation.

1. Underestimate the Standard Pricing

If you're considering opting out of the all-inclusive package because you don't see how you could possibly eat or drink enough to make it worth it, recognize that you're typically not going to see standard prices at an all-inclusive resort; an appetizer you'd expect to be $10 might cost $25 at an all-inclusive resort, and drinks that are normally $15 might start at $30. Because of the typically inflated prices at all-inclusive resorts, it will be easier than you think to make the all-inclusive price worth it.

2. Overdo It

Unlimited food and alcoholic drinks may sound like an all-out feast waiting to happen, but if you overeat or overdrink, you're likely going to regret it. Imbibing too much and spending your trip intoxicated isn't going to make for a fun time, and if you go home feeling crummy because you ate too much all week, your happy vacation memories might be tainted. Exercise self-control and enjoy yourself within the limits of what you know to be reasonable and healthy, so that you don't cause undue harm to yourself by going on vacation.

3. Fail to Consider Other Options

Many people end up at an all-inclusive because it seems like the easy choice, especially for honeymoons. However, before you proceed with booking, take the time to research and consider your options. Are there other destinations that catch your eye? Other hotels with better packages for your needs? A less expensive version of the all-inclusive package that may be a better fit for your trip? You might still opt for the standard all-inclusive route after taking a look at everything available, but being aware of what else is out there will help to ensure you have the best vacation possible.

4. Assume That Everything Is Included

You might assume that when booking an all-inclusive, everything pertaining to your trip is included, from airfare and land transfers to tips, gratuity, activities, amenities, and more. However, all-inclusive rates can vary widely in what they entail; yours might cover accommodations and food only, or it might include alcoholic drinks but no tips, which are expected. Don't assume that once you book and pay for your all-inclusive trip, you can close your wallet. There might be additional aspects of your trip that you still need to plan — and purchase.

5. Ignore the Fine Print

Whatever you do, don't ignore the fine print when booking an all-inclusive vacation. Read it word for word, and then read it again. You may be surprised to find that the all-inclusive package doesn't include taxes or gratuities, which can add up to thousands of dollars. Conversely, you may discover that airport transfers are included when you were thinking you had to book your own transportation. Either way, it's important for you to be aware of what you're agreeing to, what you're paying for, and what your payment doesn't cover. You'll also want to check out the refund or cancellation policies, in case your trip is interrupted or postponed.

6. Blow Your Budget

Setting a budget is important in protecting your finances and keeping yourself within the bounds of what's reasonable for your situation. Your eyes may pop at the prices you're quoted for an all-inclusive vacation, and it can be easy to convince yourself of why that super-expensive package is worth the splurge. If you're uncomfortable paying a certain price or have to dig into savings (or, worse, go into debt) to make it happen, don't do it, as you're only setting yourself up for disappointment all vacation long. Every pitfall and imperfection of the trip will make you bitter and resentful over the money you shelled out and shouldn't have. In addition, while it might be tempting to splurge on amenities not included in the rate, especially since you've paid a price up-front, be wary, as those extras can add up quickly and lead to an inflated bill at the end of your stay.

A Breakfast tray floats across a pool
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7. Stay on the Property the Whole Time

Perhaps the biggest downside of an all-inclusive vacation is that it can be limiting, encouraging travelers to stay within the bounds of what is included. This can mean never leaving the property, never trying a local restaurant with authentic food, or never spending money on local excursions and activities. Not only will this make for a bland, one-dimensional experience, but it can also be harmful to the destination. It may be tempting to avoid spending money outside of what you paid for the resort, but failing to budget and plan for food, activities, and experiences outside of the all-inclusive package will result in a trip that's not as fulfilling, enriching, or exciting.

8. Pay for Amenities You Won’t Use

Your resort may have different all-inclusive packages available with a variety of amenities on offer, but don't pay for things you won't use. For example, if you're going on vacation and you don't drink alcohol, or you're sticking to a diet of fish and salads, a top-of-the-line package with nightly steak and wine pairings would be entirely unnecessary. You may be paying for spa services when you'd rather be at the beach. In that case, consider a lower-tier package or opt to go the traditional à la carte vacation route.

9. Neglect to Take Full Advantage of What’s Included

This may be obvious, but you're paying a higher price for an all-inclusive vacation for a reason: There's a lot included. Educate yourself on what exactly the resort includes in the rate, and plan to take full advantage of it (think: poolside piña colada deliveries, sailing lessons, snorkel gear, private island cabanas, and perhaps even spa access). Living in the lap of luxury is all the more restorative when you can indulge all of your whims and don't have to pay one penny extra for it.

10. Eat Only Familiar Foods

The beauty of an all-inclusive is that you're free to eat and drink whatever and whenever you please. Don't pass up the opportunity to sample dishes that are new to you — after all, it's included! All-inclusives typically have buffets or restaurants with a wide variety of food on offer, and all of it is available at no additional cost to you. Instead of sticking with your favorite foods or usual combinations, venture out of your comfort zone and try something new. If you don't like it, no loss; you can pick something else.

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