How to Book A Cheap All Inclusive Holiday

When it comes to all inclusive holidays and resorts, there’s just so much choice! So, in this guide, we’ll take you through how to book a cheap all inclusive holiday, save money and have the best value getaway you possibly can.

Either click the area you want to know more about, or grab a cuppa and scroll through for the ultimate guide to cheap all inclusive holidays.

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The All Inclusive Basics

Book cheap all inclusive holiday

What Does All Inclusive Mean?

‘All inclusive’ typically refers to accommodation that includes meals, beverages, and certain activities or amenities in a single upfront price. Generally, it means that almost everything you need for your vacation is covered.

In most cases, the hotel will have on-site restaurants and bars, and other facilities such as a swimming pool and entertainment areas. Most facilities will be included in the price you pay when you initially book the hotel. So, many people will stay at their hotel for the duration of their trip without venturing out.

‘All inclusive holidays’ will also include a form of transport, such as a flight to your destination. Some companies will also offer extras such as bags and transfers. 

In summary, you can book an ‘all inclusive hotel’ on its own, or an ‘all inclusive holiday’ – but always check the details for what’s included in your specific deal.

What is Included in an All Inclusive Holiday?

Not only will all inclusive accommodations vary in what they include, but also in their star rating as well. So, you may find a bit of a difference in the amenities and the overall experience they provide.

However, this is what is generally included in an all inclusive hotel:


A variety of dining options, including buffet-style meals and à la carte restaurants. This means you can indulge in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes even snacks without additional charges.


Both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages are often included, ranging from soft drinks, juices, and coffee to beer, wine, and spirits. However, premium or imported alcoholic drinks may sometimes incur extra costs.

Activities and Entertainment

All inclusive resorts usually offer a range of activities and entertainment options on-site. This may include access to pools, fitness facilities, sports activities (such as tennis or water sports), evening shows, live music, and organised events.


Basic services like housekeeping and concierge assistance are normally included. Additional services such as spa treatments, laundry, or excursions outside the hotel premises may come at an extra cost.

It’s important to note that the specific inclusions and restrictions can vary between hotels. So, always check the details of the all inclusive packages before booking.

What do The Star Ratings Actually Mean?

It’s a common misconception that 5 star equals luxury – it doesn’t! That’s because star ratings are based on facilities, rather than standards and service. What’s more, different countries have different rating systems.

Hotels are rated by the quality of their amenities and facilities. Cheap Holiday Expert explains a 5 star hotel rating meaning differs by country.

Although there may well be a 1 star all inclusive hotel out there, most all inclusive hotels will be 3 to 5 stars. However, 4 and 5 stars all inclusive resorts are the most common.

Common Pitfalls to Look Out For When Booking a Cheap All Inclusive Holiday

Woman wearing sunglasses smiling and holding two beers

With so many all inclusive options out there it can get a little confusing. Each hotel will have its own rules, inclusions and exclusions. This may not be apparent at first glance, so it’s key to look at the small print. 

Here are some areas that may catch people out:

Free Drinking Times

It may say ‘drinks available for 12 hours’. Meaning that if bars open at 10 am, you may not be able to drink for free after 10 pm on your package.

Types of free drinks

Local beer, wine and spirits tend to be included, but cocktails and premium branded alcohol that you’re used to drinking at home may not be included in your package.


Snacks may only be available for select times. Also, if it’s for 3 hours, it could be 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon.


Shows or entertainment may not be daily so ask for clarification if it’s advertised as ‘frequent’ or ‘often’.

Specialist or A La Carte Restaurants

There may be limits on when you can visit and what you can order at specialist or a la carte restaurants on site. This could change based on how many nights you stay - e.g. you may get to eat at the a la carte restaurant for 1 night if you stay over 5 nights.

Food menus

If you’re staying for over 2 weeks, you may notice that the menus will repeat after 7 days.

Extra Charges

Check added fees for sports, towel hire, and cup deposits.

Spa Acces

Hotels may charge additional fees for treatments.

Flight times

Some hotels don’t let you use their facilities before and after check in and check out.

Hotel distance

A hotel may seem great but be located in the middle of nowhere. So, always double check where it is and how much a transfer or car hire will cost you.


Check how many hours of childcare they offer, it could be as little as an hour a day!

What Countries Are Popular For All Inclusive Holidays?

Cheap All inclusive resort beach

Not all countries have jumped on the all inclusive holiday bandwagon, and so knowing what country to target can really help with your search. Here’s some of the most popular all inclusive destinations, meaning you will see a wider range of all inclusive hotel options:

Underrated Countries For All Inclusive Hotels

If these holiday destinations aren’t yet on your radar they should be! Since they’re still ‘up and coming’, you may have less choice. However, you could also save money versus a popular destination, especially in the peak months.

Are All Inclusive Holidays Good Value For Money?

women outside eating at cheap all inclusive holiday

All Inclusive holidays can absolutely provide excellent value for money, but it all comes down to what you’d usually spend when you go away. 

Our best advice here is to think about your last holiday. Go through all your photos and try and recollect what you had and how much you roughly spent. Then compare that spend to the cost of your prospective all inclusive holiday. But bear in mind that food and drinks costs have gone up a little in many places this year! 

This is the best way to determine whether you would have saved on food and drinks on an all inclusive. 

However, it’s also about experience and what you want from a getaway. Do you prefer to explore local areas of a destination, eat street food and venture into neighbourhood bars and restaurants? If so, the cheap price of an all inclusive holiday may not be able to replace the authentic experience you would have had otherwise.

On the other hand, some travellers simply want a week of relaxing by the pool and beach. They aren’t fussed about the quality of food, drinks, and entertainment. 

Ultimately, only you can decide whether an all inclusive is good value for you and your holiday habits!

How to Book a Cheap All Inclusive Holiday

book cheap all inclusive holiday

There are 3 main ways you can book your next cheap all inclusive holiday:

Book it yourself

You find the flight - or whatever form of transport you've decided to take - and then find your accommodation and book both yourself.

Book with a travel agent 'in person'

You go into a travel agency in person or speak to a travel agent or travel counsellor online or over the phone. They will personally help you find your all inclusive holiday.

Book a package holiday online

You search and book an all inclusive holiday that you find online. In most cases, you won't interact with anyone from the company you're buying from personally.

Of the 3 options above, the last 2 would be classed as a ‘package holiday’. Whilst booking it yourself means booking your transport and accommodation separately.

Who Can I Buy My Cheap All Inclusive Holiday From?

There are two options when it comes to who you can buy your cheap all inclusive holiday from if you’re opting for a package holiday: a tour operator or a travel agent.

Tour Operator

A tour operator combines travel services to create a ‘package holiday’ and may sell their own travel services as part of it, such as flights or accommodation. Examples of travel operators include TUI and Jet2holidays.

Tour Operator Shop

Many tour operators have their own physical shops that you could find on your local high street. Inside, their agents can help you book your holiday in person.

Tour Operator Phone Line, Email and Webchat

Tour operators may also have a phone line, email or web chat service. This allows you to book via one of their agents without physically visiting a shop.

Tour Operator Website

Tour operators will also have a website where you can browse and book travel services without talking to anyone.

Travel Agent

‘Travel Agent’ is a very broad term and what unites everyone who uses it is that they sell travel services to the consumer on behalf of a tour operator. Basically, tour operators like TUI and Jet2holidays create the packages, and travel agents sell them on!

However, there’s quite a range in what services different travel agents offer.

Travel Agency Shop

It's what many of us think of when we hear the words 'travel agent'. A human being with travel expertise who works for a travel agency, who is going to help us book our next holiday! You go into their physical travel agency shop to book your holiday. Examples include Website Link Hays Travel , Website Link Trailfinders and Website Link Kuoni.

Travel Agency Phone Line, Email and Webchat

Travel agencies may also have a phone line, email or webchat service that allows you to book via one of their agents without physically visiting a shop. They may also show deals on a website, but often they'll direct you to contact them before you book.

Online Travel Agency

An online travel agency - or an 'OTA' for short - is the name given to an online marketplace that allows you to browse and buy travel services. They may have travel agents that you can speak to. This is often by phone, email or via webchat. But in general, here people complete their holiday booking without talking to anyone from the company. Examples of OTAs include On The Beach, loveholidays and

Independent Travel Agent, Travel Counsellor or Travel Advisor

I don't want to get into the politics around these different distinctions (!!) but ultimately, there are also travel agents who don't work for a bigger company, and offer their services independently. A distinction some use between the terms is that a travel agent may stick to pre-packaged tours. Whilst a counsellor or advisor can reflect many years of expertise and so could offer a more tailored experience. Both work well for different consumers, and my take is to ask around for recommendations.

What's the actual difference between a tour operator and a travel agent?

From a ‘final product’ point of view, you shouldn’t notice a big difference in your holiday whether you book with a tour operator or a travel agent, other than tour operators are more likely to include baggage and transfers as part of your deal. The real difference kicks in if there are any issues with your trip.

This is because the travel agent will be the ‘middle man’ between you and the tour operator who is supplying the services that you’ve booked. As your contract is with the travel agent, not the tour operator, you must rely on them to resolve any problems.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – many travel agents have fantastic relationships with tour operators and can often make your life easier by going that extra step to make sure any issues are resolved. However, in other situations it does add another link in the chain when trying to rectify an issue.

Overall, just make sure you’ve done your research and go with a travel agent that you trust, or comes with great recommendations.

Woman smiling on balcony

What Are The Perks of Booking an All Inclusive Holiday as a Package Holiday?

A package holiday is pre-arranged travel that includes a form of transport – typically flights – as well as your hotel. It is purchased as a complete package from a travel agent, online travel agent or tour operator.

The big perk of booking your cheap all inclusive holiday with this method is that you will have added protection, as package holidays should have ATOL or ABTA protection as standard. So, if the company or airline goes bust, or you don’t get the holiday that you paid for, you’ll be refunded.

In addition, due to selling a lot of holidays, tour operators and travel agents can negotiate better prices and pass on the savings to customers. They may also have access to discounts and promotions that aren’t available to the public.

cheap all inclusive holiday

What Are The Perks of Booking an All Inclusive Holiday Separately Myself?

As is often the case when booking travel, there’s no hard fast rule for booking the best deal!

Therefore, I say it’s always worth checking the price of your flight and hotel separately just in case that saves you a chunk of cash.

If you do this, I recommend checking out my cheap flight guide for how to find the cheapest possible flights. 

Whether you know your dates and destination or just your budget, here's my guide on how to book cheap flights for every occasion.

For accommodation, definitely use a comparison website like Tripadvisor, Trivago or Google Hotels. If you know what hotel you’re after, I have a guide on how to find the cheapest dates to stay.

Do you know what hotel you want to stay in but want to find how stay on the cheapest night? Here's my step by step guide on how to save money.

Remember that if you do decide to book your transport and accommodation separately, you will normally not get the added ATOL or ABTA protection. So, if the company goes bust or you’re not delivered the product you paid for, you won’t be compensated.

Ultimately, it’s about whether the money saved is worth the ‘risk’.

There are other ways that you can protect yourself when booking separately. Book with a credit card for Section 75 protection when you spend over £100. Also having travel insurance in place from the moment you book will give you added protection.

The Best Companies for Booking a Cheap All Inclusive Holiday

Here are some places to search for all inclusive holidays and package holiday deals. 
See above for the differences between each. 

Travel Agents

Online Travel Agencies

Tour Operators

Comparison Websites

Travel comparison websites are a good place to start your search. It’s also handy to use these sites to check that the tour operator or travel agent is giving you the best price.

Deal Websites

There are some websites who also go out there and do the hard work of searching and finding incredible deals for us! 

When Should I Book My All Inclusive Holiday?

cheap all inclusive holiday

The best time to book your all inclusive holiday will be based on what you’re after. The following are general rules – there will always be exceptions – but you’ll be in good stead if you bear these in mind.

The Best Time to Book a Peak All Inclusive Holiday

If you’re travelling in peak times such as school holidays, or when a major event is on, the general rule is to book as early as you can.

This is because prices tend to change based on demand, and when demand is high prices normally go up!

If you’ve missed when prices are first released, not all is lost. Being flexible on your dates and destination will give you more options. However, I still wouldn’t leave booking too long.

Last minute deals are possible, but getting your desired dates and destination will all come down to luck. You could risk not finding anything suitable.

The Best Time to Book an Off Peak All Inclusive Holiday

You definitely have more time to book if you’re travelling outside of peak times. However, if you have a specific destination in mind on specific dates, it may still be worth locking in your trip sooner rather than later.

However, if you’re able to be flexible on your dates or destination (or both!) then there’s less rush. You should be able to find a fair deal at most times.

You’ll also have much more chance of scoring a last minute deal.

Cheap All Inclusive Holiday

How to Find a Last Minute Cheap All Inclusive Holiday Deal

Tour operators block book flights and accommodation which they use to make package holidays. This means that they may be in a position to discount getaways at the last minute if they haven’t sold yet. 

However, it depends on demand running up to the departure date and some companies, such as TUI, have even said they won’t be discounting any holidays last minute going forward. So, there’s always a risk associated with waiting for a deal. This is especially true if you’re desperate to go somewhere specific, at a specific time.

Overall, the key for last minute deals is to be flexible with dates and destinations.

The Best Websites for Booking a Last Minute All Inclusive Holiday

If you’re not bothered about where to go – you just want a bargain – these websites collate last minute, cheap all inclusive holidays for you:

Top Tips on Saving Money on Your Next All Inclusive Holiday

cheap all inclusive holiday
Be flexible

Flexibility is always key in finding a good deal and so if you have some leeway on your dates, your destination or even better - both - then you're more likely to find a good deal.

Don't follow the trends

Popular destinations on popular dates will book up the quickest so be open to trying something new. Also, be open to travelling midweek or perhaps flying later on in the day, both of which tend to be less popular choices for those going on package holidays.

Always double check your deal

Found a package deal that looks good? Always double check what it would cost if you booked the flight and hotel separately yourself. Also check whether another travel agent or operator is offering the same holiday for cheaper.

Wait for the sales

A couple of time a year, many travel companies offer discounts. Whilst many don't have set dates, you can normally expect a sale around Black Friday and also from 26th December, often classed as their 'January sale'. This tactic is much better if you can be flexible on where you're going and when.

Find The Cheapest Dates For Your Dream Hotel

If you know what hotel or resort you want to stay in, there's a really super way to find out the cheapest dates to book a package holiday there.

Borovets is called the cheapest ski resort in Europe but how much does a cheap ski trip to Bulgaria actually cost? I went to find out.
Check cashback websites

Always check to see if who you're booking through is on a cashback site such as Qudico and Topcashback. However, it’s worth noting that sometimes a hotel can show up as more expensive if you click through from one of these sites. So, you just need to double check that this is the best option before you hit book.

Search for discount codes

Got to checkout and realised there's a box for a promo code? Always do a search for the travel company you're using followed by 'discount code' to see if there are any available. It can also be worth checking Twitter for this information as well.

Sign up for the travel company's newsletter

Sometimes travel companies can offer discounts for signing up to their newsletter. It certainly doesn't hurt to give this a go before booking your trip.

More Money Saving Tips

You will find even more money saving tips and recommendations in our All Inclusive Guides for families, solo travellers and adults only.

How to book a cheap all inclusive for a family holiday

Coming soon!

How to book a cheap all inclusive for adults only

Coming soon!

How to book a cheap all inclusive for solo travellers

Coming soon!

It's Time to Book Your Cheap All Inclusive Holiday!

Phew, that was a little epic wasn’t it! I hope that after reading this ultimate guide to booking a cheap all inclusive holiday, you’ve learnt a thing or two. 

Now you can make sure you’re getting the best deal possible when you book your next getaway!

Cheap All Inclusive Holiday
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