There’s a package holiday out there for everyone from the gap year party kid to the active adventurer and the seafaring senior. But is all-inclusive travel really a good deal?
All-inclusive holidays come in all shapes, sizes and budgets, bundling any combination of flights, accommodation, transfers, meals, drinks packages, tours. Regardless of whether it’s a budget Bali getaway or a luxury Antarctic adventure cruise, the real value of all-inclusive travel isn’t in the price: it comes down to how you like to travel.
I have no time.
Verdict: Worth it.
You’ve got a well-deserved vacation coming up, but right now things at work are hectic and your weekends seem to be booked up from here to eternity. The idea of finding spare time to compare flights, shortlist hotels, read Trip Advisor reviews and book day trips makes you break out in a cold sweat. Package deal to the rescue! The great advantage of an all-inclusive holiday is being able to organise the whole thing in one fell swoop. Package deals aren’t always cheaper than booking each component yourself, but if you don’t have time to do the legwork, consider any price premium to be a convenience tax.
I like to be independent.
Verdict: So not worth it.
When you travel, you like to move around, get a feel for different places and regions. You like to have the freedom to stay a little longer somewhere that you fall in love with or to hightail it out of a place that doesn’t quite float your boat. If that’s the case, then an all-inclusive deal that commits you to 14 nights in the same hotel or a multi-destination package with a set itinerary probably isn’t for you. In the same vein, if you’re someone who likes to spend your days immersing yourself in local culture and attractions, there’s not much point pre-paying for three meals a day at a resort. Hanging around to get your money’s worth doesn’t leave much time between meals for exploring.
I need to watch my spending.
Verdict: Totally worth it!
We’ve all been there: you read up on your destination, set a budget according to the recommended per-day allowance (and then some, to be safe). You top up the kitty with a little bit extra for shopping… and somehow you still manage to come home having racked up a credit card debt. Blowing a holiday budget is pretty easy: overestimate the exchange rate here, get a bit relaxed and carefree with your spending there. However if your transfers, hotel, meals and day trips are all paid for before you leave, there are fewer reasons to pull out the wallet and burn the plastic.
I want value.
Verdict: It depends!
Value is really in the eye of the beholder. The devil is in the detail: the headline number quoted in a package may be the starting price for an entry-level room. If you have your heart set on ocean views or an in-room spa, you might need to stump up for added luxuries. These are often attractively priced to encourage people to upgrade, but to get genuine value spec your holiday the way you want it. There’s no joy in a deal if it requires too much compromise. Get a sense for your destination. If there are limited dining options in the vicinity of your accommodation, a meal package might be worthwhile. But if there’s a great street food market the over the road where you can dine like a local for a fraction of the price, maybe not. Pre-paid day trips could seem like a good deal, or then again maybe you can save by paying cash at a local vendor once you arrive. Do your research.
I need certainty.
Verdict: Totally worth it!
For people who like to fly by the seat of their pants, take a chance and see where their wanderlust takes them, the ups and downs of travel are all part of the experience. But if you don’t fancy the idea of organising your holiday while you’re actually on it or you just need to know things are taken care of at the other end, then an all-inclusive option makes sense. Pay for the peace of mind knowing you will get where you’re going and that there will be a bed waiting for you when you get there. Even if you can save money by booking day trips or eating out at your destination, you might just prefer to book now rather than run the risk of missing out.