7 Money-Saving Secrets All-Inclusive Resorts Don’t Want You To Know

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Awesome Tips   Traveler's Toolbox  

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All-inclusive resorts are advertised as stress-free vacations, but if you end up breaking your budget while enjoying one, stress-free becomes a long shot from what you’re actually experiencing. But there are plenty of ways your all-inclusive vacation can be as worry-free and relaxing as you’re expecting. Follow these seven simple money-saving tips while booking and enjoying your next all-inclusive vacation, and you’ll understand why so many travelers choose all-inclusive getaways year after year.

#1. Assess the Hidden Fees

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All-inclusive doesn’t always mean exactly what you think. Spend plenty of time browsing the website of the resort you plant to visit or talking with them on the phone to find out exactly what’s included in your rate. Internet fees, airport transportation fees as well as certain activities, meals and drinks may not actually be included in your nightly rate. Sometimes it’s beneficial to pay a slightly higher rate to have these potentially costly items and services included.

#2. Visit After Labour Day and Before Christmas

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All-inclusive vacation rates are better when demand is low, and that’s when kids are in school and the cold weather hasn’t quite settled in. Travelers can find great deals on European vacations by traveling shortly after Labour Day when the weather is still warm. And all-inclusive vacations in warm-weather destinations (like Mexico and the Caribbean) are more affordable before all of the snowbirds head down shortly after Christmas.

#3. Price Generally Reflects Quality

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Jaw-dropping prices may make it tough to resist the urge to click “buy” immediately, but if the resort seems too good to be true, it might be. While it’s not unheard-of to get an incredible deal on a nice all-inclusive resort — especially if you start watching resort sales 11  months ahead of time — it’s best to ask a friend or log onto a forum to find out what the resort is really like. A crazy deal may even mean that construction is being done at your resort, and you won’t be able to access some of the resort features or the room you prefer.

#4. Pay for What You’ll Use

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An all inclusive resort that advertises an on-site casino, sailboat rides, scuba lessons, horseback riding and parasailing may seem like a great place to stay, but it’s important to consider the features you’ll really use before buying. If you’re planning to spend your days lounging by the pool or swimming in the ocean, you may not need to pay extra for a resort that includes watersports, tours and other features you’ll probably never use.

#5. Keep an Eye on Occupancy Rules

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Every all-inclusive resort has different rules and different “small print” you need to be familiar with before arriving. Some resorts only allow four occupants per room, which can be a big problem for families with three (or more) children or slightly larger groups of travelers. Always call the resort or consult your travel agent about occupancy rules before pulling the trigger on your booking.

#6. Consider All Airfare Options

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Choosing a package deal, with your resort rate and airfare included in one lump price, may or not be the most affordable way to book your all-inclusive vacation. Research round trip flights to your destination and compare the rates to the price of your package deal. The travel times or flight connections you find by buying your airfare separately may actually be more convenient or family-friendly than those that come in the package deal.

#7. Consult a Travel Agent

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Using a travel agent to book a vacation may not be as common as it used to be, but once you’ve decided that an all-inclusive is right for you, a travel agent can provide a lot of perks. Your agent can help you choose the correct vacation for your family (whether you’re looking for a family-friendly resort or a honeymoon-style getaway), and they can help you understand all of the advantages and disadvantages of the resort you choose.

All-inclusive resorts tend to resist giving refunds to their customers based on weather conditions, emergencies and other dilemmas. Your travel agent can help you decide if travel insurance is the best option to ensure you don’t lose money if you’re forced to back out.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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