All-inclusive packages and deals are tempting options for family holidays for various reasons – they can help you save money (especially in the Eurozone, particularly if you're paying in sterling), can spare you hours of research and planning (virtually every detail of your holiday is taken care of by your tour operator), and are reassuring for those new to travelling with children, or who are going to unfamiliar destinations (especially when there’s an on-site representative to deal with problems or queries). Best of all, by knowing in advance what your total cost is going to be, you don’t have to spend your holiday angsting about blowing the budget.
But if you like to go off and do your own thing, this kind of arrangement may prove too inflexible. A half-board option can be a good compromise, as well giving you more scope to support local communities.
Find out if the deal is as good as it sounds. The definition of 'all-inclusive' does vary, so check what you actually get– for instance, certain activities and services (such as scuba-diving and childcare) may still be extra, while the unlimited free soft drinks and sometimes alcohol may only extend to local offerings and not your favourite brands.
Check if a resort’s non-buffet restaurants cost extra, and if you plan to use them, found out if you need to book well in advance. If you don’t use them, you may start to find the buffets very repetitive.
Find a place offering lots of activities, preferably included in the price – if you’re going to be mainly in one place, you want to have plenty to do.
But unless you don’t mind risking cabin fever, do find a hotel or resort that has at least a few points of interest in the vicinity – it’s a shame to go abroad and not see something beyond where you’re staying. Note that many all-inclusive hotels and resorts are in quite isolated spots and don’t give much of a flavour of local life.
Doublecheck whether childcare (included in the price or extra) needs to be booked in advance (perhaps even at the time of your overall reservation). Make sure the timings and age limits make it suited to your needs, and check for official accreditation and that the staff speak good English (other parents’ feedback is always useful).
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