Planning an all-inclusive vacation at a resort can seem like a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be.
I’m going to give you 7 easy steps to help you book an all-inclusive vacation at a resort. Then I’m going to explain what you need to do in each step and why.
- Decide what’s important to you to enjoy your vacation
- Determine where you’d like to take vacation
- Research the area where your ideal resort is located
- Use an online booking website to research resorts or use a travel agent
- Verify the flights the booking website or your travel agent selected work for you
- Book early if your dates are flexible
- Factor in hidden charges
- 1 Decide What’s Important to You to Enjoy Your Vacation
- 2 Determine Where You’d Like to Take Vacation
- 3 Research the Area Where Your Ideal Resort Is Located
- 4 Use an Online Booking Website to Research Your Resort or Use a Travel Agent
- 5 Verify the Flights the Booking Website or Your Travel Agent Selected Works for You
- 6 Book Early If Your Dates Are Flexible
- 7 Factor In Hidden Charges
Decide What’s Important to You to Enjoy Your Vacation
The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to get out of your vacation.
Do you want to relax? Or would you prefer to be more active? Do you want the sand and the sun? Or does hitting the powder of the snowy slopes get you excited? Do you want to relax but still have a full entertainment experience, kind of like what you’d find at an amusement park?
Answering these questions is important. Because a ski resort in the mountains is going to have a completely different feel than a resort on a tropical island. And both of those will offer a different experience than an amusement park resort like Universal Studios or a Disney theme park.
Determine Where You’d Like to Take Vacation
At first glance, you might think that this should be the first question that needs answering. But I made this second for this reason.
Before you can decide “where” you want to vacation, knowing “what” you want from vacation has to be answered. Once you’ve decided on “what” you want from the previous step, you can focus on “where”.
Let’s say you want surf and sand. Now, you can focus on “where” to enjoy that. Do you want to stay in the United States? Your options start leading you to Florida, Alabama, and California. If you’re open to other locations, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean start looking attractive.
If you determined that you would prefer snow, then the locations change. Maybe Denver, Lake Tahoe, the Poconos or some other mountain resort would likely fit the bill.
This is why it’s important to know “what” you want from a vacation, followed by “where” you’d like to enjoy it.
Research the Area Where Your Ideal Resort Is Located
Now that you’ve narrowed down what you want to do on vacation and where you want to do it, it’s time to start thinking about how to plan your activities.
If you want to stay in Florida and you want to experience the night life, what places do you want to visit? Maybe you picked that state because you want to explore marine life in greater detail. Or possibly you’ve been dying to check out one of the theme parks in Florida.
Whichever one of those or other reasons fit you, take the time to research what’s available to you in or around the area you hope to vacation in.
If you plan on going to Mexico, exploring Chichen Itza on the east coast or the Cabo ruins on the west coast might be a cool adventure. One that I’m putting on my bucket list is exploring the Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico City. You can book a tour with an archeologist that even comes with Tequila tasting!
Whatever area you choose, find out what attractions there are, what excursions you might like and even what restaurants you might want to try.
It is true, you will be staying at an all-inclusive resort. So your food and alcohol will be included. But do yourself a favor and take a day to experience what the locals eat. You’ll be glad you did.
Use an Online Booking Website to Research Your Resort or Use a Travel Agent
Once you’ve narrowed down where you want to stay, it’s time to start booking.
There are a number of things you will want to know before you book your resort. Some things you might want to know if the resort has are:
- Beach access
- Private beach
- Private balcony
- Adults only pool
- Airport transportation to and from the resort
- Shuttle service
- Free internet
- Valet parking
- Complementary bathrobes
- Kid’s play area
These are certainly not all the things you’ll want to confirm before booking. But it’s a start.
To determine if your resort will have the activities and amenities you are looking for, you’ll want to use an online booking website or use a travel agent.
If you go with a booking website, we recommend Agoda.com or TripAdvisor.com. These sites will show you what things are available at the resort. You can read reviews of what others thought about your desired resort.
Agoda.com has the advantage of showing special rates that are only available for a limited time. Depending on when you view the resort, you might land on a good deal.
There is an argument to be made for using a travel agent as well.
One benefit of using a travel agent is that they have access to specials or incentives that might not be offered through a booking website or even the resort website.
Using a travel agent will also let you get real-time answers to your questions. If you want to know specific details about the resort, compare resort or airline prices, having someone you can get immediate answers from can be worth the effort.
Verify the Flights the Booking Website or Your Travel Agent Selected Works for You
Once you nail down the resort where you want to stay, confirm that the flights offered actually work for you.
For example, do you hate layovers? Make sure your itinerary doesn’t have them. Is it leaving from an airport that is notorious for delays? You’ll probably want to change to another.
Also, look at the times of the flight. Even if the airport and layover information sit well with you, the departure and arrival times may not. Do the flights leave too early or too late? This is your opportunity to change them. The airlines may charge a fee to make changes if you wait until after you book the flight.
Believe it or not, this is one instance where using a booking engine might be better than using a travel agent. Using the website, you can easily compare flights and change them to meet your needs.
This is very important and why you need do your research.
Think about this.
How long does it take to get from your resort to the airport? Factor in the airline’s requirement to arrive 45 minutes to an hour before your flight. Remember to include potential traffic delays too.
After adding all this up, does the time your return flight is scheduled for allow for all these factors? If not, make changes to your flight.
Book Early If Your Dates Are Flexible
If your dates are flexible, you should consider booking your all-inclusive resort vacation early.
For one thing, airline flights tend to get more expensive the closer you get to your travel dates.
Booking early also gives you the best choice of rooms at your resort. If you plan to travel during peak vacation season, there is a high probability that your ideal room type will not be available.
That might mean you’ll pay less because you’ll have to take a lower category room. You may also lose some of the things you want as a result.
For example, did you want a room with a private balcony with private beach access? If you wait too long to book your vacation, that room type may not be available.
On the other hand, if you have your heart set on a specific resort and your desired room class is filled, you might have to pay more than you originally budgeted for your vacation.
Factor In Hidden Charges
One final thing to remember is to budget more money for your all-inclusive resort vacation than just the cost of the flight and room.
Here are a few things that will add to the cost of your vacation:
- Resort fees
- Tips (for taxis, bartenders, and housekeeping)
- Local restaurants (if you plan to explore the area)
If you follow these 7 steps, you will be able to enjoy your all-inclusive vacation with few unexpected surprises.