12 All-Inclusive Resort Hacks To Memorize For Your Next Trip

Vacations are meant to help us relax, but with all the planning and decision making it takes to make a trip go off without a hitch, vacations can sometimes feel like more of a headache than a break. Enter the all-inclusive resort vacation. In this magical world, everything is served up to guests on a silver platter. Dinner plans require little more than walking downstairs. The kids can spend a day meeting new friends at the kid’s club, while parents enjoy some much-needed R&R by the pool. And when everyone’s ready for a family adventure, it’s as easy as grabbing snorkeling gear from the activity center and diving into the deep blue sea.

For all the ease of an all-inclusive vacation, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure you make the most of your time away. I recently took an all-inclusive vacation to Turks & Caicos and discovered a few hacks that greatly improved my experience. From proper tipping etiquette to taking advantage of upgrades and specials, these are our top tips for an unforgettable all-inclusive resort stay.

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1. Be prepared to tip.

While most all-inclusive resorts charge a service fee that’s included in the cost of your stay, it doesn’t hurt to bring a little extra cash to show the staff how much you appreciate their hard work. A $5 tip before a long day spent by the pool bar can go a long way in ensuring your glass is always full and your pina colada is made just right. The same can be said for when you want to reserve that front-row oceanfront cabana.

2. Book dinner reservations.

One of the best things about an all-inclusive resort are the incredible dining options. Most resorts have at least 4 different dining options, and larger resorts can offer upwards of 10 to 15 onsite restaurants. Don’t get stuck eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet every night. Instead, plan a schedule of places you absolutely want to try—maybe sushi one night, churrasco the next, and seafood on the third—and then make reservations via the resort concierge upon check in. You can always update the reservations if plans change throughout your stay, but you’ll be glad you made them when you’re ready to chow down on a gourmet meal after a long day of fun in the sun.

3. Bring a reusable insulated cup.

Whether you’re in Mexico, Jamaica, or the Bahamas, one thing you can guarantee for your all-inclusive resort vacation is that the weather will be hot. One thing you don’t want to be hot? Your drink. Ice melts fast in 90-plus degree weather, so one of the best ways to ensure you’re always sipping something cold is to bring a reusable insulated cup;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “>reusable insulated cup and transfer your beverages into it. Whether a frozen painkiller or a local beer, we guarantee it’ll taste better ice-cold.   

4. Request the hospitality suite.

Don’t waste a single second of your worry-free vacation. Most resorts have checkout times around noon, but if your flight isn’t until later that evening, there’s no need to rush off to the airport. Instead, stay at the resort as long as you please, and then request to use the hospitality suite. The complimentary service allows guests to shower and freshen up in a private space even after they’ve checked out of their rooms.  

Peter Frank Edwards

Peter Frank Edwards

5. Read the fine print.

The term “all-inclusive” seems pretty straight-forward, but the reality is that what’s included in your stay isn’t always so clear cut. Often services like spa treatments and activities like jet ski rentals require an additional fee. So there are no surprises when you arrive, make sure you read the fine print about what’s included when researching resorts.

6. Don’t overindulge.

This one’s a little tricky. While you may be tempted to get your money’s worth by ordering three desserts, stacking your plate to kingdom come with crab legs, or going for that fourth round of drinks, sometimes it’s best to show a little restraint. The buffet (and the bar) will be there tomorrow, and it’ll be mighty hard to get a good night’s sleep with an upset stomach—or worse a hangover.

7. Get to know the staff.

One of the best things about international travel is getting to experience a different culture—something that can be hard to do when you stay at an all-inclusive resort. Even if you don’t plan to leave your resort much, you can get to know a bit more about the local culture through the resort’s staff. So strike up a conversation, get to know your bartender, and ask your adventure guide what they love about their home. You never know what you might learn!

8. Venture off property.

It can be easy to spend an entire week vegging out by the pool—it is what you paid for after all! But while we fully endorse ample lounge time, we strongly recommend planning at least one off-property excursion. Talk to your resort concierge and get set up with a Jeep tour of the island, a reef snorkeling boat trip, or a local cooking class. On my husband and I’s mini moon in Cancun, we rented a car and ventured to see nearby Mayan ruins. It’s still one of my favorite parts of that trip!   

9. Don’t throw away the schedule.

In addition to their regular activities and services, resorts are kind of like cruise ship in that there’s always something going on. From sunset yoga to salsa lessons, there’s nothing better than trying something new—especially when it’s not costing you a pretty penny. So that sheet of paper that you got upon check-in can come in clutch when you’re bored of the pool and have a few hours to kill. The schedule is often also where the resort prints the opening days and hours for its various dining options, so it’s great to have on hand when hunger strikes.

10. Take advantage of room service.

We know we said not to overindulge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge just a little. To me, ordering room service is the height of luxury. And while it can be quite expensive to do during a regular hotel stay, it’s all part of the package at an all-inclusive. Crispy French fries delivered to my room at 10 p.m.? Yes, please!  

11. Ask for an upgrade.

Moreso than most other vacation stays, all-inclusive resorts exist to pamper their guests. Often if rooms aren’t completely booked, the concierge will be happy to upgrade you to a nicer room, whether that be one with an oceanfront view or one with a private dip pool. Like my mom always says, “It doesn’t hurt to ask!”  

12. Get outside your comfort zone.

From kayaking to paddleboarding to kite surfing, all-inclusive resorts are a playground for adventure lovers. But even if you’re not so into adventure, it never hurts to try. The worst that can happen is you cut your activity short, but the best that can happen is you discover a new passion.

Related: The Best All-Inclusive Girlfriend Getaways In The South

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