All-inclusive vacations can be a steal, at least on paper: Simply hand over a fixed amount to a resort or cruise line, and they will take care of your accommodation, meals, entertainment and maybe even your plane tickets. But âall inclusiveâ means different things in different situations â and you might be surprised at what is. not included.
The most important thing to know before booking an all inclusive vacation is that no two companies operate in in the same way. Although the following benefits are among the most frequently excluded, some packages do include them. There is only one way to know exactly what you are getting for your money: always read the fine print. Reading the legal jargon sucks, but the alternative (getting slapped with a surprise bill on a supposedly relaxing vacation) is far worse.
When people complain about hidden charges and surprise charges on so-called all-inclusive vacations, they’re almost always talking about resort fees. These charges range from a few dollars per night to hundreds of dollars, and usually appear on your bill with a line like âcleaning fee,â âgym access,â or whatever standard equipment you would expect to include in your room price.
Because they are also obligatory – even if you do not use the amenities covered by the cost of stay, you still have to pay them – and not included in the advertised price per night or per week, the cost of stay can look like a sneak attack. Reading between the lines, it’s obvious that this is just a sneaky way for hotels and resorts to advertise a lower rate than guests will end up paying.
If that smacks of bait to you, you are not alone: ââconsumer protection laws in Australia and in the European Economic Area (mainly the EU plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) have banned this practice by requiring companies to report the total cost of a good or service as a single number, including including all taxes and mandatory fees. Unfortunately, outside of Australia and Europe, resort fees are still very legal, so be prepared for additional fees when you leave.
Some all-inclusive vacation packages include a shuttle service to and from the nearest airport. Some don’t. How are you without saying you should know which one you booked before you get on the plane, especially if you are traveling to an area you are unfamiliar with.
Room service and premium food and drink
Not having to worry about meals is one of the main reasons people choose an all-inclusive vacation, but as many travelers have learned the hard way, only part of the food is part of the deal. . Room service and âpremiumâ alcohol – which can mean anything from âpoorly mixed drinksâ to âcertain bottles of wineâ – are the two most common exclusions.
Plus, some packages only include buffet meals, meaning on-site restaurants or bars cost extra. If eating and drinking is an important part of your vacation plans, make sure the sticker price includes the amenities you want.
Motorized water sports
Here’s one that seems hit and miss: the majority of resorts are very careful to point out that their vacation packages only include non-motorized water sports. (Presumably, insurance rates skyrocket once personal watercraft are involved.) Even though the website features photos of people water-skiing, jet-skiing, or parasailing, these activities generally cost more. , so plan accordingly.
Any off-site activity
Finally, keep in mind that all-inclusive vacations very rarely include anything you do outside of the resort. If you want to take a local walking tour or cooking class, visit museums, or do some sightseeing in general, you will be responsible for the cost.
It sounds super obvious, but the costs of offsite activities are surprisingly easy to ignore when leaving the resort isn’t exactly part of the plan. You don’t have to budget a large amount of money for excursions – it’s worth considering that at some point you might want to leave the resort to do something fun. Even if you don’t, you’ll be glad you put some money aside for unforeseen expenses.