When you think of a vacation, you tend to think of sun, relaxation, and a lack of worries. You just want to kick back, eat some nice food, and get away from your daily grind.
There’s two ways to really go on vacation. One is on your own, booking all the transport and accommodations and trying to save enough money for food and other expenses as well. And the other is the all-inclusive route where the only thing you need to do is purchase your tickets. It sounds like the answer is clear, right? All-inclusive all the way! Or is it?
The thing that attracts us to all-inclusive vacations is the ease and convenience of them. All you have to do is pay for the trip and all of your worries are taken care of. You’ve got food, transport, and a place to sleep, all for what is usually a pretty decent price. You probably have housekeeping so you don’t need to worry about cleaning up your room. You might even be lucky enough to have drinks included! Pack a bag, take a book, and enjoy the next week or two on a sunny beach.
In terms of ease, there’s not much that beats an all-inclusive. But this way of vacationing is lacking in another way. So, what’s wrong with an all-inclusive trip?
The most obvious thing that is missing from spending two weeks at a resort is the immersion in a new country and culture. Sure, you might be in a different country and the hints of that may be evident in the people and the language that surrounds you indirectly, but your interactions with locals are most likely going to be fairly limited to the hotel’s staff. Unless you really make an effort to leave your resort and experience life outside of it, you will probably head back home with not much of an impression of the country you’ve just visited.
An easy way to get around that is to participate in the excursions that many all-inclusive destinations offer. Sure, it will cost you some extra money, but if you are wanting to travel, as well as vacation, it is definitely worth looking into. A lot of the excursions offered provide you with the transport necessary to really experience part of that country’s culture and history. Many include food as they tend to be day trips, so the extra cost will be worth it. If you’re still set on going the all-inclusive route, then adding a couple of excursions to your itinerary may give the local flavour to your vacation that you might otherwise miss.
The more extreme alternative is to book everything yourself. This may end up being a bit more costly than an all-inclusive (although that doesn’t have to be the case if you plan well!), but it tends to be a much more authentic way of experiencing the place you are travelling to.
The main difference between an all-inclusive and a do-it-yourself trip is the possibility of adventure. While an all-inclusive does offer some advantages in terms of convenience, a do-it-yourself trip forces you to explore and get out of your comfort zone. Because you want to make the most out of your trip, you will take the opportunity to wander the streets and neighbourhoods in your vicinity and really experience what it might be like to live in the place you are visiting. If you plan to stay for more than a few days, you will get to see what the day-to-day life of a local is like by going to a grocery store or trying that quaint restaurant on the corner or finding your way around the city using public transport. Your trip will be much more unpredictable, but also much more adventurous.
Of course, it’s important to research your destination well if you’re planning on booking your trip on your own. Make sure to compare prices of accommodation as sometimes you can find a great place by renting it from a local instead of going the hotel route. Make sure to also learn about the neighbourhood you’ll be staying in so that safety, transport, and amenities don’t have to become a worry. If you’re really planning on going cheap, look into couch surfing or other ways to connect with locals that can help you experience a lot while having a fantastic time.
Your vacation should be something to look forward to, especially if it’s the only one you’re going to take for a while. But it should also offer you an experience that you’re not going to soon forget about. Keep in mind that, even though the convenience of an all-inclusive may seem very enticing, it can also take away from the adventure of travelling to a new country. Find a nice balance between exploration and relaxation and you’ll have a vacation that’s more than just a bad sunburn and some extra kilos.
Written by: Sonia Motisca