On my most recent international trip, I stayed at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun, an amazing all-inclusive resort located in Cancun, Mexico. It was a trip full of firsts: my first trip to Mexico, my first all inclusive resorts stay, and the first time in a long while that I haven’t had to think about money or even bring my wallet anywhere… like, at all.
Which is strange given that I’ve been writing about personal finance for over five years now.
This means that for the last 1,825 days I have written, talked, blogged, coached, and tweeted about money – almost exclusively.
And you know what? Living a “money free” lifestyle for a few days was pretty nice.
Beyond the experience of not having to take your wallet or exchange money at any point on the trip, I found that all inclusive resorts do have other values as well.
The Ability to Budget Better
I’ve traveled a bit (mostly in the continental U.S.) and it’s always hard to budget for exactly how much you’re going to spend on a trip or vacation. What if you want to splurge on a dinner, meet up with an old friend you hadn’t planned on seeing, or participate in a can’t miss activity like a show or watersport? Depending on what the situation calls for, you may end up spending at an epic level above your original budget.
Vacations are some of the easiest times to say yes when you should say no. “I work hard, I deserve this!” you say. Or at the very least you can easily justify it by a simple, “We’re on vacation! I’ll eat peanut butter and ramen at home.”
See what I mean?
My favorite thing about the all inclusive experience was that I paid for my flight, I knew how much the stay was going to cost, and because I knew the numbers I was working with beforehand I was able to pay for the vacation in full before I went, which means not stressing out about money after the vacation is over.
Better Value for the Dollar
All inclusive resorts are known for being a really good value – it’s why people like them so much and why cruises are almost always full. After all, who can resist getting food + lodging for one low price?
The value really comes into play if you like to eat a lot or imbibe on tropical beverages. If Rich and I were paying out of pocket at a bar or club, our tab for each day alone would’ve cost us around $150 dollars. (LB loves the tropical bevvies…)
Just watch for the incidentals – we had to pay out of pocket because we forgot sunscreen and the bottle was $24 U.S. dollars – ouch! We also paid out of pocket for an activity (parasailing!) which was at a very competitive rate.
Cost vs. Time Savings
Ever heard the phrase, “you get what you pay for?” Honestly, it’s one of my favorite money mantras. Those who don’t see the value in all-inclusive resorts may not realize that they’re also paying for the convenience of not having to plan out every single moment of your trip. Anything you want is right at your fingertips, you never have to go off site, and they’ design it to be this way so they’re very, very good at it.
If you want a convenience factor above all others and to just relax– definitely consider going the all-inclusive route.
Fewer Awkward Money Conversations
I can see an additional benefit of an all inclusive: not having to talk about money – especially for families or couples traveling together. Since everything is taken care of, couples and families can go to any restaurant and not have to worry about dividing up the bill or fighting over the check. No one has to worry that they’re going to more expensive places than the other can afford, because… it’s all paid for in advance.
When Trying to find The Value in All Inclusives…It’s Best to be Clear on Your Own Priorities First
As with any big purchase like a vacation, if you want to feel truly satisfied with what you spend, it’s important to make sure your choices align with your money beliefs and values. What kind of vacation do you really want to have?
If you want a vacation where you lay on the beach with a daiquiri, don’t have to worry or stress at all about money, schedules, or plans– all inclusives might be the perfect fit for you.
I know that for me, who was in town celebrating my 30th birthday, this low-stress, budget-friendly vacation was the most fitting experience imaginable to ring in a new decade.
*Thanks to Palace Resorts for sponsoring this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.