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All-inclusive vs. DIY vacations

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Which trip is right for you?

Some people love the ease of all-inclusive vacations, while others prefer a bit more independence and choice. Which side of the vacation fence do you fall on? If you aren't sure and would like to book a trip, we're here to help. We're weighing the pros and cons of each style to help you decide what’s best.
 All inclusive vs. DIY vacations
Photo credit: Ken Kaminesky/Stockbyte/Getty Images

All-inclusive vacations

All-inclusive vacations mean that what you pay includes your room, as well as food and drinks, along with some activities (this differs from resort to resort). Upon checking in, you’ll likely get a wristband that indicates you’ve bought the all-inclusive package. In most cases, this entitles you to all meals and all drinks, alcohol included.

Pros

One of the reasons so many people go on all-inclusive vacations is because once you book, get to your resort and check in, you don’t have to think about anything. Everything you need is at your fingertips, or at least within a short walk. There’s no worrying about where to eat, how to get there or who’s paying for post-dinner drinks — it’s all taken care of under the all-inclusive umbrella. All you need to do upon waking is decide whether you’re hitting the beach or the pool and what kind of daiquiri to have with your lunch.

Cons

Despite the fact you’re within steps of a pool (or three), a beach and as much rum punch as you can drink without falling into one of those pools, there is the risk of boredom at an all-inclusive resort. While some people can easily sit on the beach for a week straight without leaving, others get antsy with having nowhere else to go other than the resort property. Excursions to nearby attractions can also be pricey, which is another deterrent for some.

 All inclusive vs. DIY vacations |
Photo credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

DIY vacations

A DIY vacation is something you plan yourself (or with the help of a travel agent). You research accommodations, book your hotel(s) and plan your own excursions, either before you leave or once you’re at your destination. While your hotel might offer breakfast and WiFi with the cost of the room, anything else you buy is your responsibility.

Pros

There’s a lot of excitement involved in getting to a new destination, checking into your hotel and not knowing where you’ll eat dinner that night or what you’ll see exploring the next day. Even if you’ve prebooked some excursions or sightseeing tours, there is still a lot of room for spontaneity and discovery if you’re not spending every day in the same place, as you would at a resort where everything is provided.

Cons

There are a lot of decisions to be made on a daily basis when you’re spending each day exploring — where to eat, what to do, what to see, etc. As exciting as this freedom can be, it can also be stressful. Depending on where you go, a DIY vacation can sometimes be more expensive than a package deal since you’re purchasing everything separately, from flight to food to excursions to accommodations.

The bottom line

Think about what type of person you are, how much time you have and what the purpose of your vacation is. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to plan and would prefer to relax by the pool than sightsee, you may want to consider an all-inclusive. But if you feel like you’d get antsy after three days of doing nothing but sunbathing and reading books on the beach, consider a more active vacation. In addition, if you only have a week and just need a mental break from work, an all-inclusive can be just what the doctor ordered. But if you have more time, or if you need some excitement, you’ll be better off choosing your own adventure.

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