If you book an all-inclusive holiday, you expect certain costs such as flights, accommodation, transfers, food and drink to be included in the price you pay upfront. Some packages also include entertainment, activities and tips. This means that you will not spend money on these services during your holiday and will pay for everything in advance. There are, however, no set rules dictating what should be included; some holidays are more all-inclusive than others.
Flights, transfers and accommodation
All-inclusive packages include transport and accommodation as part of their base price. This should also include airport transfers to your destination. Some operators also package in transport to your holiday starting point. This is most commonly found with cruises. So, for example, a driver may be sent to your home to take you to the airport to catch a flight to your ship or to take you direct to the port if it is in the UK. At the end of your holiday, you will be taken back home again. You may be offered free train or bus travel as an alternative.
Food and drink
All-inclusive holidays always include food and drink on at least a three meals a day basis. Some run restaurants, buffets and cafes 24/7 so you can eat whenever you want. Others only open food service points at mealtimes. Resorts that have an expensive dining option may restrict the number of times you can eat there during your visit. Generally, soft drinks and tea and coffee are freely available. There may be some restrictions on when you can be served alcohol and some companies charge extra for premium drinks. If you are holidaying overseas, you may be given domestic alcohol brands as part of the package, but may need to pay for international brands.
Entertainment, activities and excursions
As a general rule of thumb, entertainment and activities that are based in your hotel or resort will be part of your all-inclusive package. You may have to pay for anything that is not provided on site by the holiday company unless there is a special deal in place. Some premium activities such as watersports may not be included. Some holidays will include excursions and day-trips; others will ask you to pay extra for them.
Tipping is sometimes, but not always, included in an all-inclusive price. You can still tip for good service even if you have paid for it upfront, but you don't have to. UK holidaymakers should be aware that it is more common to tip on non-European holidays than it is here, and staff may expect you to do this.
Some all-inclusive deals offer useful extras. You may, for example, be given free travel insurance with the package or babysitting and kids' club services in a family resort. Some resorts give you vouchers when you book a holiday to use towards paid activities. These can save you money but check their conditions before using them as they may not be redeemable at all times.
Check the terms and conditions of any all-inclusive deal before you book it. Look for services that will cost you extra and restrictions that may limit what is included. Pay particular attention to food options by checking how many restaurants and cafes you can eat in and when you can eat. If you get bored with the food that is provided or tired with long queues for few outlets, then you may end up spending extra to eat outside the hotel. If you are travelling with children, check on whether snacks, soft drinks and ice-creams are included in the price. Finally, take some money with you to pay for anything you do outside of the package price or the resort itself.