Hello! I’m Vanessa and over at Random Thoughts & Acronyms I write about money, vacations and my plans to leave Montreal once and for all.
Since Michelle is on vacation this week and I love vacationing, I’m going to write about the hidden costs about “all-inclusive” vacations.
The first all-inclusive I took was to Varadero, Cuba and cost about 400$ for 4 days. Not bad, I thought! When I got there however, I found out that Cubans are especially notorious for asking for money and tips. On my second all-inclusive trip, I went to Samana in the Dominican Republic.
- 1$ to tip the woman who brought me water every meal at the buffet.
- 1$ as a tip for every drink that I had.
- 2$ tip each day to the maid who tidied my room.
- Each excursion that I took required a tip of 5$
- On a horseback riding excursion, the tour guide recommended that we tip the horse-owner 20$!
• A trip to Havana cost me 80$
• A “jeep safari” cost me another 80$
• The horseback riding excursion cost me 90$
At a resort, there are always extras that you can take advantage of in order to have a nicer trip. These include:
- Specialty dinners either offered by the resort or in a local town (50-100$)
- Imported drinks and drinks from outside of the resort usually run about 5$
- Spa/massages (50$+)
- Motorized sports (50$+)
- Room safe: The last resort I went to stressed that there had been robberies in the rooms but long-term guests said that they’d never heard of any. We decided to be cautious and it cost us 15$
- Bottles of alcohol can range from 2$+ depending on the quality and bottle size
- Cigars: If you are able to haggle you should be able to pick up a pack for maybe 0.75$/cigar
- Souvenirs! I love scavenging souvenir shops in each city that I visit and always buy a fridge magnet. If you get caught up in all the kitschy things, you will fill up your suitcase and have to leave your umbrella behind in your hotel room (not that that’s ever happened to me… :P)
Since I live in an area that isn’t too sunny, all-inclusive vacations usually entail the purchase of small things that I don’t really have lying around
- Sunscreen – I discovered that Dollarama sells SPF 45 which is a Godsend since the only other time that I bought sunscreen I spent 13$ for a teeny-tiny bottle
- Flip flops – Old Navy had a sale two months ago, 2 pairs for 6$!
- Bathing suit. Don’t ask me why I didn’t have a bathing suit… I also don’t have a beach towel but they’re usually included at all-inclusives
- Aloe – I burn so quickly and aloe is the only thing that I’ve found effective
- Sunglasses. My brother broke my only pair last summer and I didn’t replace them until the weekend before I left for the Dominican :S
So, finally I will leave you with Vanessa’s Travel Tip. When faced with exorbitant food costs past airport security, go to duty free and buy a bag of M&Ms. The peanut ones are caloric enough to sustain you until you get fed on the plane but at only 10$ a bag, it’s an amazing value!
My comment: I’ve never been on an all-inclusive vacation but I have definitely thought about it. $400 for 4 days sounds like a great deal, but tips and other costs definitely add up!
Wow! I had no idea of all those hidden "tips" on demand. Whoa. Good thing I read this before I decide to travel somewhere out of the country again.
House of Sykes says
I couldn't disagree with this post more. We always travel all inclusive (primarily in Mexico) and have NEVER experienced issues with tipping. We never tip anyone for drinks or meals; however, as a courtesy, we tip the maids who take care of our room.Obviously, extras at an all inclusive resort are the same extras that you would find at a non-AI resort. Buying extra things to prepare for a vacation is also a necessity for AI and non-AI travel. Those points are not specific to AI resorts.I believe that AI travel is the best deal you can get. Not only that, but traveling AI allows you to relax because you've already paid rather than spending the entire vacation worrying about every nickel and dime you've spent!
Broke Guy says
I've been on 6 all inclusive's in my life. I've visited Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Tipping depends on the resort you go to. Sometimes the staffers are not allowed to accept tips, and could loose their job for taking a tip (as was the case on our last trip to Jamaica). However; sometimes tipping is expected as a courtsey. We usually take about $150 in 1 dollar bills for tipping. If we are all sitting around the bar, we'll give the guy a couple dollars for getting us drinks. Even if we "don't" have to tip, it's vacation, and if you do….you'll get MUCH better service. One trick we did for the maids, was that we packed coloring books and crayons, and left them for the maids on the first day. Since these countries are so poor, they are very gracious when you bring stuff for their kids. We then left a couple bucks every day, and our room was ALWAYS spotless when we came back.
We went to an all inclusive about 10 years ago to Turks and Caicos and our bartender told us he could not accept tips. I wonder if that means it has changed in the 10 years since I have been to one or if different companies have different policies.
Wow it really does add up! My husband and I are headed to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica in a few weeks. The resort is strictly no-tipping besides employees that are not a part of the resort (bag handlers & shuttle driver, spa services). If you tip the actual employees (maids, bartenders, restaurant servers) the employees can lose their job. You definitely have to watch the other stuff though; like you said, the sunscreen and things can really add up. Definitely worth it for a short trip to paradise!
CeCe @Frugalista Mar says
I kind of think of a cruise as an all inclusive…that's the closest I've gotten to that kind of vacation. It is awesome that everything is included-and you don't feel nickel and dimed everytime you need to eat. I went easy on the drinks, excursions and eating outside the ship. We just tipped our room service person.
Melissa Wilson says
Be careful with that Dollarama sunscreen, especially if you burn easily. Sunscreen definitely has an expiry date of about two years, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out Dollarama was selling expired stuff. (It doesn't really go "bad" after two years, but it's much less effective.)Where I HAVE found really good deals on brand-name sunscreen, though, is Winners! Last summer I found a bottle of Neutrogena SPF 100 (I'm that white…) for only $6, when it's regular price $13, and it was still two years from it's expiry!
Live Simply- Live We says
I have only stayed at one all inclusive and it was awesome. I loved that all I had to think about was walking to the beach in a straight line!
It really does depend on where you go. I'm not speaking from an all inclusive perspective, just travelling, but I know some countries actually find the concept of tipping insulting.It's funny you posted on this, because The Boy and I were discussing which was better, all inclusive or backpacking. His family does all inclusive, but I prefer to backpack. The only point he had me on was price, because he could get all an inclusive with flight for less than I could find a flight alone for. There's something seriously wrong with that picture. It's interesting to know there's more to it than that.
thanks for pointing this out…i think avoiding the excursions help minimize added expenses the most!
I've never been on an all-inclusive vacation, but my sister went on a cruise. She said the tips were really expensive. I like your break down of all the tipping and excursion costs!
I love all inclusive vacations. Food can get pretty pricey, so not having to worry about buying food is a plus.
Brianna Tucker says
I have to disagree. We have been on two all inclusive trips and we never paid any tipping. We went to Jamaica and to Punta Cana, Mexico. We did pay extra for spa services but that is what you would do on any vacation. All of our meals, drinks and luggage handeling and maids were included. I would go AI over any other vacation
That's crazy that they suggested you tip a certain amount. Tacky! When we went to the Dominican, we tipped a lot of the waiters and staff but no one ever suggested that we should or how much!
Don't even get me started with 'resort' fees. A few years ago my husband and I went to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary. I saved for years to pay for this trip. I booked it, I paid cash for the trip in advance. More than $6000.00 for 10 days. The first night there when we signed into the hotel they asked for our credit card. I gave it to them "KNOWING" that we would not be adding anything to our room etc. Imagine my surprise when I found out there was a $25.00 a day fee for the parking garage and we were expected to tip $5.00 when they brought our car to us. There was no public parking so we HAD to use the garage. Then there was a fridge in the room. I moved some of the things in the fridge to make room for my husband's diabetes medication. I was charged for things 'missing' from the fridge that we did not eat or drink. We were charged an extra $25.00 aday for a 'resort fee' and I still do not know what the fee was for. When we checked out at the end of 5 days we were charged more than $300.00 on our credit card. Then we went to Maui. We again were charged a resort fee of $25.00 a day but the hotel did have a parking lot we could use and not pay for the parking garage.
Michelle P says
The resort fee at our hotel that we're at right now is $26 a day! Ridiculous!
Wayne @ Young Family says
It sounds like you still had a great deal. However, the hidden costs are a critical consideration. It sounds like you more than doubled what you paid for the all-inclusive vacation. Hidden costs are definitely something to consider ahead of time.
Karunesh @ chase-a-d says
I think you did great by keeping track of your spending. That way you can control how much you spend.
great post! thanks!
I've been to a resort that included stuff like breakfasts and snorkel gear, but I definitely want to go on an all inclusive cruise some day. Not in a huge rush though! Want to get the more intrepid trips out of the way while still young 😛