To All-Inclusive or Not to All-Inclusive

As you know by now, I consider the world my playground and love to play in all of the lovely destinations.  Since I have completed the first item of my bucket list (to visit all of the states in the US), my attention now focuses on visiting all of the countries of the caribbean.  Unfortunately, since the countries are not located within close proximity each other, I have to plan my travel more strategically to stretch my dollars further.  My goal is to complete this adventure within five years.  Pretty challenging feat considering that I have 28 more countries to visit.

Aside from the expense of actually traveling to the various destinations, I have to factor in the cost of accommodations and food.  In the past, the best way to save on these expenses has been to stay at an all-inclusive.  All-inclusives allow me to save money by having unlimited access to food and beverages, including adult beverages.  As such, I do not have to worry about finding a local restaurant or other eating establishment, carrying the appropriate amount of cash, or converting currency to pay for my meals.  Additionally, I do not have to worry about finding a microwave or refrigerator to store my food in the event that I do not eat everything.  With all-inclusives I can eat as much or as little as I want, exactly when I want.  Therefore, if I want to have a rum and coke with french fries or pizza at 2a.m., I just get up and go to the poolside grill or the main dining hall.  Because of the convenience, all-inclusives are the first choice for lodging in the caribbean, most of the team.

However, there have been times when I’ve visited an island and have NOT stayed at an all-inclusive.  Why?  Well, there are many reasons.  The primary one centers around my diet.  I am a VERY picky individual and need many, many, many options for the duration of my trip.  If an all-inclusive only has two dining options or the dining options close early, it is highly unlikely that I am going to select that option.  Moreover, there are some island destinations that have hundreds of restaurants that provide very healthy, reasonably priced meals within a few feet of a resort.  As such, it is typically in my best interest not to stay at an all-inclusive or pay the supplement for an al-inclusive package which typically includes three meals and some beverages.  Additionally, there are some islands which do not necessarily have offer all-inclusives, or they have pseudo all-inclusives.  The last reason why I have not stayed at an all-inclusive is because some locations do not include the activities of an all-inclusive such as non-motorized water sports, personal training sessions, tennis lessons, or dance lessons.  Therefore, it is more cost-effective to find an accommodation that has a refrigerator and microwave where I can store some food and beverages.  Often, to limit my out-of-pocket expenses, I will bring some canned soup, crackers, oatmeal and healthy snacks (no fruit) with me to make sure that I at least have something that I actually want to eat during my stay.

The bottom line is that one must make the decision that best suits them with respect to staying or not staying at an all-inclusive.  My decisions are based not only on cost, but on whether or not I think I am getting the best bang for my buck.  Am I truly getting the all-inclusive experience?  That is the question on which the final decision is made.


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