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How To Plan A Resort Vacation

Pay For Amenities You Wont Use

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Your resort may have different all-inclusive packages available with a variety of amenities on offer, but dont pay for things you wont use. For example, if youre going on vacation and you dont drink alcohol, or youre 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 youd rather be at the beach. In that case, consider a lower-tier package or opt to go the traditional à la carte vacation route.

How To Plan An Amazing All

Just the words all-inclusive can send our hearts aflutter with joy. The idea of blissfully lounging at the beach with a chilled cocktail in hand or a day spent snorkeling then dining al fresco by the water without having to once open our wallets? Yeah, that can pretty much get us to sign up for any all-inclusive resort without even planning.

But be careful when you book: Just because a resort promises to be all-inclusive, whats actually included may not really be everything you think. So before you book your trip, here are some questions the editors at SELECT: Your Citys Secrets Unlocked recommend that you ask and plan around to make sure that the resort will fulfill your sun-soaked dreams.

Once youve gotten the answers to these questionsand a good travel agent should be able to assist you with thisconsider checking out these destinations as a great starting point if youre looking to explore all-inclusive options as well:

Inform The Staff Youll Encounter On Your Trip

During the booking process, offer the staff as much information as you can about the needs of your family, so that the staff can accommodate. This accounts for both the staff of the accommodation as the staff of your flight. Make sure to mention food allergies and special needs of the children. If you forget to mention important details during booking, you can do so once you arrive. Parents with kids with sensory difficulties can also inform their accommodation about this. Be specific about what your child can and cannot tolerate, like strong smelling cleaning products.

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Purchase The Tickets To Your Destination

It is highly recommended when traveling with children to look for direct flights, as opposed to making sure you fly with your favorite airline. Flights with long layovers are not ideal although sometimes this is unavoidable. The younger your children, the less patience they may have with this. Parents with babies may want to avoid lengthy layovers altogether. If there is no other option, do some research to find out whether the terminal at the airport is baby-friendly, and whether there are nursing rooms. Some terminals have toddler-friendly play spaces which can help pass the time with your child.

Find out also if there are changing tables on the plane that are practical, and whether bulkhead seats are available. While you may not find this information on official websites of the airline or airport, calling directly should help get you the details you need.

Breathe And Enjoy Your Vacation

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Flexibility is important for a stress-free vacation experience. Even if there are a lot of different things you want to do with the kids, like going to a theme park, a zoo, or just exploring downtown, try not to schedule more than two activities a day. Factor in how long it will take to get to each place and wait times in between.

Make sure theres room in between these activities to relax, and potentially even return to the hotel for a breather, or to change. Parents will know best how many activities are suitable per day for their kids, depending on their ages. If your kids get cranky, dont force them into activities. Find the balance between relaxation and fun.

Pro tip: If you plan on travelling to a destination where its summer, try not to have the kids out too long in the hottest hours. Keep an eye out for potential sunburn and apply lots and lots of sunscreen.

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Why Book An All

If youve planned a vacation before, you probably know how much stress this can cause. You need to consider the budget for flights, accommodations, food, and activities for your trip.

When you book an all-inclusive vacation, it removes planning stress by offering package deals that you can choose from. This way, you no longer need to worry about everything and just wait for that relaxing vacation to happen. Usually, package deals cater to singles, couples, and groups, depending on the inclusions you choose.

Well, why book an all-inclusive vacation? It offers almost everything you need for the trip at a predetermined price. You know precisely how much the trip costs before leaving as long as you stick to the schedule and all the inclusions.

Consider The Implications Of Traveling Internationally

A beachy kid-friendly all-inclusive destination will typically find you traveling outside of your home country, especially if youre from the United States.

I recommend considering if the extra steps required when traveling internationally are worth it for you and your family.

Heres what you should know:

  • Paying for and obtaining passports are extra steps that are not needed when traveling within your own country.
  • Many times, traveling internationally requires longer flight times and long days of travel both there and back.
  • Going through customs at the airport is another extra step required for international travel. This can involve waiting in long lines.
  • There are potential language barriers and safety considerations to prepare for when traveling internationally with kids.
  • The differences in local transportation and cuisine may not be something that your family can comfortably adjust to.

For us, the extra steps and extended travel time are well worth the enjoyment that comes from both traveling to a kid-friendly all-inclusive resort and traveling out of our home country.

Some of our most memorable family vacations have involved updating our passports, experiencing a different culture, and paying the up-front cost when going the all-inclusive route.

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Beaches Resorts Cater To Everyone

Beaches resorts do a good job catering to all traveler types, including bachelorette parties, friend groups, multigenerational families, couples, and reunions. While its parent company, Sandals, hosts couples only, Beaches really is for everyone. Here are a few examples that I saw on my trip:

  • For active travelers: Beaches full menu of included activities will keep active adventurers busy with SCUBA trips, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and catamaran cruises .
  • For couples: Couples, including newlyweds and couples celebrating anniversaries, can reserve sunset dinner in the sand, find a quiet hammock for relaxing with a book, hit a game of golf , or tuck into a beachside cabana .
  • For family groups: Multigenerational families traveling together can enjoy board games, various restaurants for all dietary needs , kids clubs, great photo ops, and choices, choices, choices for what to do, including organized games by the Activities staff.

Plan Your Caribbean Vacation: Transportation And Car Rentals


One expense that sometimes gets overlooked by Caribbean travelers is the cost of getting around, whether it is for getting from the airport to the hotel or getting out of your hotel to do some sightseeing. Public transportation from airports to resort areas is nearly nonexistent , so you’re generally faced with the choice of renting a car or paying for a hotel shuttle or cab unless airport transfers are included in the price of your hotel stay .

Whether you rent a car rather than paying for a cab or shuttle depends of course on how much you expect to travel around once you reach your resort. Keep in mind that the activities desk at your hotel can arrange tours with transportation that leaves right from the lobby. You’ll also need to gauge the relative safety of driving around, especially in destinations that have significant crime problems, road signs in different languages, or driving rules that differ from back home .

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Apple Vacations Sister: Cheap Caribbean

Cheap Caribbean is another sister company of Apple Vacations, one of the best sites to book all-inclusive vacations. Their packages already include flight, hotel room, food, drinks, and activities to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

This site is excellent for family vacation searches because it features a family-friendly filter tool so you can find spots where both kids and adults can enjoy. The advertised prices already include taxes and upfront fees, so you know the deals total price. You also have the option to break the total cost into installments, if youd prefer.

Additionally, if you find a lower price for the same package on another site within 24 hours after booking, the company matches the price and even tries to beat it by $25.

Best Features

The best feature is that each vacation package has a description with in-depth information about its inclusions, such as the property, reasons why you need to stay there, and the pros and cons.

Also, it gives you additional information about amenities, restaurants, nearby attractions, and reviews sharing first-hand experiences with their services and destinations.

Best Travel Sites For All

There are a lot of different components when planning a family vacation. After you pick your dates and destination, you still have to choose a hotel, find flights for the whole family,rent a car or research other transportation options, and plan meals, tours, and activities during your trip.

Its a lot of work, which is why an all-inclusive vacation can be a good option for those times when all the travel prep just seems too overwhelming. Everything will be taken care of and paid of ahead of time, and you wont need to keep reaching for cash or during your trip.

If youre someone who likes to explore a destination and get off the beaten path, an all-inclusive vacation may not be the right choice for you. All-inclusive packages include food and drinks at your resort, so if you eat elsewhere, youll be paying extra on top of what youve already shelled out. Same goes for tours and activities outside your resort. But if youre looking for a laidback escape from everyday life where you dont have to think too much about different options, this can be a good way to go.

Read the fine print to fully understand whats included and what isnt. Sometimes things like spa services are an extra cost. Comb through the info and read reviews about dining options to see if included food choices and restaurant styles will work for the whole family, and if you need to make any dining reservations in advance.

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Lizard Island Resort Australia

How many all-inclusive resorts front the Great Barrier Reef? Not too many. This resorts popular for its diving, but its also known for a variety of all-inclusive packages, with everything from chef dinners on your own private balcony to private plunge pools.

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Apple Vacations Sister: Funjet

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Funjet is a sister company of Apple Vacation. If you go to their home page, they only offer two vacation deal options: flight/hotel and car/hotel. You can work around this by adding a rental car after booking an individual flight and hotel.

Depending on your search, they also offer various options, such as hotel name, price, rating, and location. You can also apply filters to receive results that are drilled down to your needs, such as properties with proximity to famous landmarks.

One downside is that the prices arent the most consistent. However, its still worth comparing to other sites when planning a trip.

Note that if youre planning a vacation to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Central or South America, it would be better to search on Apple Vacations. Usually, Funjet has limited destinations covered.

But compared to Apple Vacations, Funjet offers better prices. You can also search on, which the parent company also owns.

Best Features

Funjets best feature is that it automatically applies relevant promo codes to your searches instead of making you look for coupons on the web.

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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 thats not as fulfilling, enriching, or exciting.

Know Your Vacation Expectations

There are countless worthwhile travel destinations around the world.

Figuring where to go for an all-inclusive vacation can therefore be quite overwhelming.

But you could start by figuring out what you will like to accomplish and whats important for you.

This will help you determine the best travel destination for your vacation.

An easy way of figuring out where you want to go for your all-inclusive trip:1. Determine three things that matter to you.2. Think of how you plan on spending your holiday vacation.

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Rules For Planning A Surprise Vacation

I am the master of giving travel gifts. In the 18 years that my partner, Andrew, and I have dated, Ive planned surprise vacations for us to Paris, Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Colombia, Japan, Hawaii, and the Cook Islands. Last Christmas, I decided to do something different.

Ive known Andrews parents for nearly two decades. Theyre lovely people but not well-traveled compared to their son and pseudo daughter-in-law , both of whom make our living as travel writers.

Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, the 70-year-old Parkses had never been west of the Mississippi until we moved to Minneapolis two years ago. And I can count on one hand the number of times theyve flown on an airplane. Mr. Parks is a retired factory worker and Mrs. Parks works in admin in a doctors office. Theyre both homebodies who stick to their usual routines: watching the Hallmark Channel or Food Network, running errands to Kohls and Wegmans, and gambling a few times a month at the nearby Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino.

That sparked an idea. After all the normal presents had been distributed on Christmas, we gave them a surprise vacation to Las Vegas. The gift included roundtrip airfare, four nights in a luxury suite at The Palazzo at the Venetian Resort, and IOU vouchers for dinners, shows, and activities. His parents were shocked and elatedand more than a bit nervous about going somewhere new.

Not Bringing Enough Cash For Tips

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Some resorts, such as Couples, have a publicized no-tipping policy. That means you dont need to leave cash tips for housekeepers, bartenders, and other resort employees your room rate covers all gratuities.

More typically, its customary to leave a few dollars for the friendly bartender making your drinks, the restaurant servers who are hustling to get hot food to your table, the energetic activities staff running the fun volleyball games, the housekeeping staff leaving you towel animals on your bed every night, and the bell staff handling your luggage.

Bottom Line: Find out what your resorts policy is when youre booking your vacation. Plan to bring several $1 and $5 bills to support hardworking employees if tipping is allowed on the property. If tips are covered in your room rate, youll still want a few dollars to tip taxi drivers, luggage handlers, or tour guides you may encounter outside the resort.

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Ignore The Fine Print

Whatever you do, dont 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 doesnt 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, its important for you to be aware of what youre agreeing to, what youre paying for, and what your payment doesnt cover. Youll also want to check out the refund or cancellation policies, in case your trip is interrupted or postponed.

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