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13 Things All-Inclusive Resorts Won’t Tell You (But Should)

Don’t get stuck with a pricey, lacklustre vacation. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck at all-inclusive resorts.

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All-inclusive resortsPhoto: Nacho Such/Shutterstock

1. All-Inclusive Resorts Aren’t Always Worth it

To find out if a price is fair, compare the all-inclusive fee to the standard room rate without the package. Some resorts budget $150 a day per person—or more—for food and drinks under the all-inclusive resorts deal. Ask yourself if you’ll really consume that much.

On a budget? Check out 10 Luxury Resorts You Can Actually Afford!

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Pool at inclusive resortPhoto: Shutterstock

2. Resorts Are Rarely Truly All-Inclusive

Depending on the destination and package, you might get dinged for airport transportation and Wi-Fi access or have to pay for premium menu items like steak or choice liquor.

Plus: 5 Handy Tips for Booking an All-Inclusive Vacation

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Woman using laptop in her hotel roomPhoto: Shutterstock

3. Watch Out for Renovations

Renovation plans aren’t usually mentioned in all-inclusive resorts’ marketing materials, so confirm with your travel agent (or risk dealing with noise and dust). “We’ll usually get a notification about construction upon booking,” says Flight Centre travel agent Megan Vonhone. If you aren’t using an agent, contact the resort directly.

Here’s How to Get The Most From Your Travel Agent!

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Swimming pool at beach resortPhoto: Shutterstock

4. Beware of Photo Editing

Scrolling through the endless images of pristine beaches and plush rooms online, you’d be forgiven for thinking every resort offers five-star accommodations at one-star prices. “Travel agents often have personal experience with these properties, so we can give you the lowdown,” says Vonhone. Check sites like TripAdvisor for un-retouched photos of all-inclusive resorts from real guests.

Here are 10 Ways Hotels Use Photos to Fake You Out.

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Woman on laptopPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Book Responsibly

International corporations manage most all-inclusive resorts, meaning they rarely benefit the host country economically. Find resorts with Green Globe certification, which requires a commitment to social, economic and environmental responsibility.

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Punta Cana beach resortPhoto: Shutterstock

6. The Discount Isn’t Always Worth It

When it comes to discounts for travelling at “off-peak” times, remember that there’s a reason why rates are much lower during, say, hurricane season. Insurance can cover the cost of a trip cancellation or interruption caused by a natural disaster, but in cases where your vacation is simply rained out, you can forget about getting a refund.

Be ready for anything. Here’s How to Avoid Disaster on All-Inclusive Vacations.

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Reception desk at hotelPhoto: Shutterstock

7. Tip Well

Even if your package says gratuities are included, employees at all-inclusive resorts usually depend on tips to make ends meet; unless the hotel forbids it, tip staff who keep you feeling pampered.

Don’t forget these etiquette rules about tipping from around the world!

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Cocktails at beach resortPhoto: Shutterstock

8. Be Careful with What You Consume

Keep food-borne illness at bay by avoiding drinks with ice cubes and steering clear of lukewarm offerings that have been left out for hours at buffets. Traveller’s diarrhea strikes one in four sun-seekers, so it’s best to keep anti-diarrheal medication on hand.

To be extra safe, read up on these 8 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning.

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Friends enjoying drinks at swimming poolPhoto: Shutterstock

9. All-Inclusive Resorts Can Be a Petri Dish for Germs

Outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease and legionnaires’ disease have made headlines recently. Check online reviews for information about the resort’s cleanliness.

Plus: The Gross Reason You Should Think Twice Before Sitting in a Hotel Chair

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Relaxing at resort in TurkeyPhoto: Shutterstock

10. Buy Some Health Care Peace of Mind

Opt for enhanced 24-hour medical coverage such as StandbyMD, which arranges doctor’s visits to your hotel room. Some resorts have in-house physicians, but beware of overcharging—the Canadian government has warned of aggressive sales tactics from private doctors in the Dominican Republic.

Check out 13 Things You Should Know About Staying in Hotels.

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Woman with luggage on tropical beachPhoto: Shutterstock

11. Pack Smart to Save Cash

Make sure you bring all necessities, especially sunscreen—you’ll need lots, and prices at the hotel shop can be double or triple what you’d pay at home.

Here are 10 Sunscreen Tips You Should Always Follow!

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Woman relaxing in hammock on beachPhoto: Shutterstock

12. Consult the Locals

You might be tempted to save a few bucks by researching and booking day excursions privately ahead of time, but it’s best to wait until you arrive, and rely on the concierge’s local knowledge.

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Beach resort in ThailandPhoto: Shutterstock

13. Know What You’re Paying For

Luxury resorts and cheaper resorts often share the same stretch of beach. If you’re mainly visiting for the sun and sand and don’t care for fancy amenities, you’ll find better value with the budget option.

Not sold on an all-inclusive getaway? This is Your Ideal Vacation According to Your Zodiac Sign!

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada