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Is All-Inclusive Worth It, and Can You Save With All Inclusive Holidays?

Joe Lytwyn - Senior Partnerships Manager | Latest Edit: 31st August, 2023

is all inclusive worth it

Is all-inclusive worth it?

The sun streams softly through the window, gently stirring you from your slumber. In the distance, the sea roars as the waves collide with the shore. You don’t need to get up for work. You don’t need to get up for anything. The stresses of everyday life suddenly feel a million miles away. For the first time in months, your schedule is blissfully clear of meetings, school runs, commutes, cooking, and cleaning. First on the day’s agenda is a lie-in, followed by an afternoon at the beach making memories with your family.

Does anything beat the feeling of waking up on the very first morning of your holiday?

Sadly, the current cost-of-living crisis has meant that many of us have had to make sacrifices when it comes to our spending and saving. A recent study revealed that 36% of people in the UK will not be taking a summer holiday in 2023, with 14% attributing this decision to the cost. The joy of ‘getting away from it all’ can feel like an unobtainable luxury.

If you’ve been researching ways to save money on your annual vacation, you might have considered an all-inclusive package holiday. Is all-inclusive worth it, and can you save with all-inclusive? Let’s take a look…

What’s usually included in the standard all-inclusive package holiday?

  • Flights;

  • Luggage;

  • Airport/ hotel transfers;

  • Accommodation;

  • Full- or half-board meals;

  • Snacks (the kids will be pleased to know that this usually includes ice-cream!);

  • Drinks; and

  • Some hotels may even offer kids’ clubs and entertainment.

Is all-inclusive worth it? It’s important to remember what’s not included:

  • Travel insurance. This is an essential, and it’s highly recommended that you take this out as soon as you book your holiday.

  • Excursions and day trips.

  • Airport/ hotel transfers;

  • Airport food and drink.

  • Any additional purchases you make either in or out of the resort, such as souvenirs.

  • Inflatable alligators (is it even a holiday without one?).

  • Emergency suncream supplies for Dad when he falls asleep by the pool for three hours.

Remember, every resort is different. Some hotels may charge extra for certain drinks or on-site spa treatments, for example. When booking, always be sure to know exactly what’s included and what’s not, so you can plan for any extra expense in advance, if necessary.

Could an all-inclusive holiday be an option for you?

If you’re planning your holiday with a clear budget in mind, selecting all-inclusive might help you make the most of your money. Once your holiday is paid for, all you need to account for is spending money for additional extras, such as excursions. All-inclusive holidays are also popular amongst those who are travelling with children.

Picture the scene… It’s day one of your gorgeous summer holiday. The sun is blazing. The kids are having the time of their lives in the pool. You lie back in your deckchair, mocktail in one hand and that book you’ve been meaning to read all year in the other. Suddenly, your peace is shattered by the sound of approaching footsteps and yells of, “MUM! DAD! CAN I HAVE SOME MONEY? I WANT ANOTHER ICE-CREAM!” Before you know it, you’ve spent £30 on Calippos in seven days…

Absolutely nobody would judge you for admitting that holidaying with children can be testing at times! Going all-inclusive may help take the pressure off. With everything already paid for, you can relax and leave your wallet untouched, no matter how many choc ices the kids demand.

How does all-inclusive work?

When you check in at your resort, your holiday company representative will hand you different coloured wristbands, which can be shown at onsite bars and restaurants in exchange for meals, snacks, and drinks.Some hotels may have certain restrictions and limitations in place.

Are all-inclusive holidays for families only?

No, not at all! While all-inclusive holidays may be an ideal, cost-effective solution for families, they can be enjoyed by all travellers, including couples, solo jetsetters, and stag and hen parties. In fact, most major travel agents sell adult-only all-inclusive packages. Looking to book your honeymoon? Why not indulge in a super saving all-inclusive and relish some much-needed destressing after months of planning and prep? You can even go all-inclusive on a cruise!

Is an all-inclusive resort worth the money?

This depends on what type of traveller you are.

If your holidays are all about kicking back and relaxing in a resort, then it might be a cost-effective idea to consider all-inclusive. If you prefer to use your hotel as a base while you head out and explore all day, you might not get your money’s worth out of an all-inclusive package. This may also be the case if you like to sample the local cuisine at restaurants outside of your resort.

If you’re seeking a more authentic experience, you may choose to rent an apartment in the hub of the city to immerse yourself in the local culture. If you’re hoping for a bit of peace and quiet, you’re unlikely to find it at your standard all-inclusive resort. All-inclusive resorts are generally designed to cater for customers’ every need on-site, giving them little reason to venture out of the resort. This may mean at peaks times restaurants, bars, pools, and entertainment areas could get busy.

All-inclusive holidays are rising in popularity. Recent research by Abta revealed that 29% of people intended to take an all-inclusive holiday. This figure rose to 57% amongst those with young families.

So, is all-inclusive worth it? We broke down the cost of an all-inclusive holiday and compared it with the same criteria, but booked separately.

All-inclusive package holiday with TUI, travelling between 19th and 26th August 2023, based on two adults and two children (aged 5 and 10):

  • Return flights between Manchester and Ibiza, with TUI’s own airline;

  • 15kg checked-in luggage and 10kg hand luggage per passenger (including the children);

  • A one bedroom family apartment at the Globales Montemar in Cala Llonga; and

  • Accommodation;

  • All-inclusive board, including 3 meals per day, drinks, and snacks = £2622.64 total

  • Snacks (the kids will be pleased to know that this usually includes ice-cream!);

The same holiday, but broken down into individual costs, works out as:

  • Return flights between Manchester and Ibiza with Ryanair, including 10kg checked-in luggage and one item of hand luggage per passenger, plus one 20kg case shared between the party = £961.10.

  • A standard family room at the Globales Montemar, booked directly with the hotel: £2,208.86

  • Taxi transfers to and from Ibiza Airport = £24.94 one way/ £49.88 return (estimation) = £3,219.84 total cost BEFORE you factor in food and drink!

*Prices correct as of 6th July 2023.

In this instance, the all-inclusive package holiday would be the best financial option and could actually end up saving you at least £600.

Food for thought.

The food at your all-inclusive resort may be buffet-style or a la carte. If your resort is family-friendly, the chances are that children will have their own food stations with home-comfort staples.

If you or any of your party have food allergies, intolerances, or preferences (for example, you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet), it’s a good idea to ensure that the hotel you’re hoping to book can cater for you. Send them an email before you hit that ‘confirm’ button - the last thing you want is to discover that the hotel doesn’t serve gluten-free options, meaning you will need to fork out for additional meals after all.

Similarly, if you’re holidaying with fussy eaters (particularly children), it’s a good idea to scope out the all-inclusive cuisine before you commit to booking. Given the choice, most kids will go for plain foods such as pasta and chips, even when on holiday.

How can I save money on my holiday?

We’ve discussed possible answers to the common question ‘can you save money on holiday by going all inclusive?’ but is there anything else we can do to keep costs down?

Many of us are looking for savvy little ways to save at the moment, both on home turf and abroad.

Check out our blog for tips on how to save money on your holiday, including paying in local currency where possible, and filling your water bottle up at the airport to avoid splashing out on expensive drinks while waiting to board.

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About the author

7.5+ years financial experience

Date published: 19th October 2023
Latest edit: 21st February 2024
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