Avoid the Mistakes Every All-Inclusive Rookie Makes
All-Inclusive resorts are in a little world all of their own. There is an adjustment period whenever you go to a new resort. Your first inclusive experience can be eye-opening. So I will share the mistakes that all-inclusive rookies make so you don't ruin your vacay. I have made most of these myself, so there's no judgment here!
Rookies Don't Prepare for Customs and Immigration at the Airport. Most all-inclusive resorts are in the Caribbean and Mexico; these laid back destinations do not get into a hurry to do anything. I spent almost three hours in line at the Punta Cana airport, and don't get me started on the nightmare that is the Montego Bay Airport. If at all possible, book the upgraded arrival and departure lounge. You will be able to skip to the front of the lines and have a lovely spot to wait for your flight. Club MoBay (in Jamaica) has saved my life more than once; it is worth the expense.
Rookies Don't Upgrade to Private Transfers. You don't want to spend the hours stuck on that airport bus, releasing fellow prisoners every 5 minutes. Most people underestimate how long the ride will take; even with the private transfer, you can spend two hours or more just getting to your resort. The roads are winding, and many people get carsick on the way. If you want to take your transfer experience to the next level, consider helicopter transfers. The views are stunning, and you can cut down a 2-hour car ride to a 15-minute flight.
Rookies Expect a Scenic Drive to and from the Resort. The drives are long and hot but rarely are they pretty. You have to deal with poverty and crowds.
Rookies Don't Chat Up the Drivers. Do you want to experience your destination beyond the resort? The drivers know every inch of the island they can take you to the hidden gems that you won't find in any guide book. Drivers can also hook you up! Our private driver in Ocho Rios took my husband and me to the best jerk chicken restaurant on the island and made sure we got the best cabana on the beach.
Rookies Bring Valuables. While it is rare, thefts do happen at resorts. People have also lost new wedding and engagement rings in the ocean. It is better to leave valuables at home, so they are safe.
Rookies Expect All Dining Venues to Adhere to Posted Schedules. During peak travel times, the restaurants will adhere to the schedules, but less popular venues might close during slower times. It is expensive to keep restaurants and bars open if there are no customers.
Rookies Expect Warm Pools. Yes, most islands in the Caribbean usually that temperatures in the '70s during the winter months, but this doesn't mean that the pools will be warm. Be prepared for cold water, because resorts rarely heat their pools, especially private pools. If you are cold-natured, skip paying for an upgrade to a private pool room and stick to the hot tubs if you are traveling during winter.
Rookies Don't Ask for Daily Events Sheet—everything you need to know restaurant hours, classes, parties, shows, etc. will be in the sheet. You never have to miss out on anything!
Rookies Get Trapped in the Timeshare Speil. Most resorts offer a free orientation to the resort; these are less orientation and more the hard sell for the timeshare, spa, and excursions. In general, you don't want to get trapped in because it a waste of hours of your trip. Some clients have said they were not allowed to skip the timeshare pitch. They can't force you to go. Say no thank you walk away; nothing will happen, I promise.
Rookies Underestimate Island Time. All Caribbean Islands are laid-back; they operate on island time. Don't be surprised if the service is slower than you find at home. Embrace the more leisurely pace because the islands aren't going to change!
Rookies Don't Get Travel Insurance. I know you aren't planning on canceling your trip, but sometimes life interferes with your plans (ahem COVID-19). The insurance covers much more than trip cancelation; it covers health emergencies, flight delays, missed connections, lost luggage, weather emergencies, etc. Give yourself peace of mind and protect your investment!
Rookies Don't Prepare for Every Eventuality. Packing well is essential! You don't want to pay resort prices for things like tampons, sunscreen, bug spray, and Tylenol. I ran out of sunscreen in Mexico and had to pay $30 for one tiny bottle.
Rookies Over Imbibe. It is easy to over imbibe at an all-inclusive resort. You aren't getting a bill, so you can forget exactly how much you have had to drink. Alcohol is not more potent in the Caribbean, but you can get drunk much faster than usual. When the temperatures rise, you can get dehydrated quickly. Alcohol will contribute to dehydration, which makes you feel the effects of alcohol with fewer drinks. My suggestion is to chase every alcoholic beverage with a bottle of water.
All-inclusive resorts are amazing, but they can be confusing for first-time guests. Avoiding the common newbie mistakes will go a long way toward making your vacation seamless and stress-free. If you are looking to reduce your worry on trips, read my How to Bump Proof Your Flight; these tips will help you ensure that you arrive at your destination. If you want to learn more about all-inclusive resorts, read my All-Inclusive Tips, You Need To Know Before You Go.