Traveling with kids can be, not only expensive, but stressful, too! If only there was a magical world that offered affordable rates and activities for the kids, so Mom and Dad could relax, with peace of mind that their kids are in good hands and they didn’t have to spend their life savings to get there.
Continuing on with our How to Make Travel Affordable series, I’d like to thank Emily from Henry and Andrew’s Guide for joining us today. She is sharing her thoughts on staying at an all-inclusive with a family, the good, the bad, and the relaxing. Her complete review starts now…
Planning an All-Inclusive Vacation with Kids
When you start to contemplate what kind of vacation you want to go on – a reason to choose an all-inclusive type of vacation will be to just relax. I know, that’s impossible to do with kids sometimes, but going to an all-inclusive vacation with kids is as relaxing as it gets. If you don’t want to leave the resort, you really will never have to. Most likely you will have daily room service so you won’t have to clean. You will have all the entertainment you need through the resorts’ programs. You will have food and drinks available to you all hours of the day. The only thing you will have to do is go from your room to the beach, pool, or restaurant (unless you do room service). If this sounds like it’s the vacation you need – an all-inclusive with kids is the way to go!
On the other hand, if you are up for an adventure – it’s still very possible with an all-inclusive. You will just have to find a resort that is close to the activities and cultural spots that you want to see. You can still eat out of the resort, but you will have to pay for it. So, if you are a foodie that likes to eat at local restaurants all day and every meal, you may not get the bang for your buck at an all-inclusive.
When planning an all-inclusive vacation with kids, make sure you check for bundled pricing with airfare. A lot of travel sites will have really good deals when you purchase your flights with it. Depending on the age of your child, you should also see if you have to pay for him/her, too. Often times kids under the certain age stay and eat for free!
How to Find an All-Inclusive that is Perfect for Your Family
There are so many things to consider when picking the right all-inclusive for your family, but here are the general categories that you should look for. Figure out which one of these categories is the most important to you, and compare and contrast between the different properties at your destination!
- Babysitting services and kids clubs*
- On-site entertainment (Nightly? Weekly?)
- On-site restaurants (How many? What type? What are the hours?)
- Number of pools and whether they are adults-only
- Room service type and availability
- Distance to tourist destinations and activities
- Availability of on-site activities (water sports, games, etc.)
- Beach availability and conditions
- Size of the rooms
- Fridge in the room
*Many all-inclusive resorts have kids clubs (usually included) and babysitting services (usually extra charge), but they come with minimum age requirements. If you have a kid that is 5 years or older, you probably won’t run into any problems. If your kid is 2-4, better check to see if the kids club allows kids that age.
Positives of Staying in an All-Inclusive with Kids
We’ve never been the “all-inclusive” types of travelers, but where we stayed in Puerto Vallarta changed our minds! It was so nice to not worry about having to go off property for those moments when the kids made it impossible to go anywhere.
Especially with little kids, going out to eat is more of a pain and not worth it to us. Staying at an all-inclusive allowed us to go to any of the restaurants downstairs quickly, without having to wait for the bill for a long time. On days that going to a restaurant was out of the question (kids sleeping or just grouchy), we were able to grab food from downstairs or get room service and eat in the room.
Same goes for entertainment. Packing everyone up and going on an adventure takes a lot of time and energy. We didn’t have to feel that pressure at an all-inclusive because we could leave everything in the room, and just go downstairs to enjoy the pool, beach and all the other activities and entertainment they had!
As mentioned before, staying at an all-inclusive doesn’t mean you won’t experience the local culture. Staying close to downtown or attractions – we were able to walk out of the resort and experience Puerto Vallarta downtown! We also took busses and taxis to places we wanted to see.
Negatives of Staying in an All-Inclusive with Kids
Some resorts are really secluded, and you may only really experience the resort and not the local culture. Also, if you get there and end up not liking the food they serve, you will miss out on the big reason to stay at all-inclusive resorts – to save money on food.
Another negative for all-inclusive goes for most hotels also – less space and they most likely won’t have a kitchen that you may get at an AirBnB or vacation rental. Sometimes traveling with kids, you want to be able to cook something, or at least have a fridge to keep their milk and snacks. Some all-inclusives may not have this.
Overall, all-inclusive stays are not for everyone – it wasn’t for us before our trip to Puerto Vallarta – but we learned that they can actually be a great mixture of adventure and relaxation, a great way of traveling if you find the right resort at the right place!
Thank-you so much Emily! We have never tried an all-inclusive, assuming they’re just for the touristy type of travelers, but after reading this, I’m thinking that it might be time to give one a try. I love that all your needs are included in the price and that they offer kid’s clubs with activities and interaction for the kids! It seems like a great option for a home-base if you’re wanting to expore a new place, where you don’t know the sketchy areas from the safe ones.
Have you ever stayed at an all-inclusive, with or without kids? Tell me what you liked and what you didn’t. This is all new to me and I want to know more.
If you want to know more about the resort Emily and her family stayed at in Puerto Vallarta and what to do there, check out their post here.
Emily has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. She loves to travel and share travel experiences with others. She was a travel agent right out of college, and decided to take her love of writing the legal route – so she became an attorney. Now, she’s combining her love of travel, writing and business acumen, honed by being an attorney, to start this journey of blogging to share the joy of traveling with kids with the world!
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