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.
We also have guide to booking a cheap all inclusive holiday for families, adults only and solo travellers – coming soon!
The All Inclusive Basics
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:
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.
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
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:
What Countries Are Popular For All Inclusive Holidays?
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?
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
There are 3 main ways you can book your next cheap all inclusive holiday:
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Online Travel Agencies
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.
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?
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.
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.
Top Tips on Saving Money on Your Next All Inclusive Holiday
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
How to book a cheap all inclusive for adults only
How to book a cheap all inclusive for solo travellers
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!