With a huge range of both all-inclusive holidays and budget-friendly self-catering resorts available these days, holidays to exotic locations are more accessible to the average household than ever. But whether to go self-catering or all-inclusive can be a difficult decision for many, so we have put together a list of pros and cons for both.
Cost vs. flexibility
The hotel costs for an all-inclusive holiday are paid up front, and you typically you will not need much spending money once you are there. This enables you to calculate your budget more accurately ahead of time.
With self-catering, you have to budget daily, as you will not know precisely what the cost of living will be until you arrive. On the other hand, you have more flexibility regarding when and where you eat, and what you do on a day-to-day basis. If you are good at budgeting and don’t mind a few cheap eats, self-catering can be less expensive than all-inclusive.
Choice vs. convenience
The main benefit of self-catering is freedom of choice. You have a wealth of restaurants, activities, hotels, and transit to choose from, and you can select just the day trips and other attractions that appeal to you.
This freedom is a little restricted in an all-inclusive. Typically, there are three or four restaurants to choose from – although the staff will make an effort to mix it up, it can feel like eating the same food. You also may feel restricted to only the hotel activities and transport offerings, which will typically keep you relatively close to the property if not on site.
Relaxing vs. authentic experience
If you are going on holiday with the intention of getting out there and experiencing a different culture, self-catering can be the better option. It creates opportunities for you to go to local grocery shops, ride local buses or engage in the nearby scene at cafes and businesses, so you integrate more deeply into the area.
Staying in an all-inclusive resort has a full programme of entertainment with very little need to go out of the hotel. So, if you are going on holiday to simply relax around the pool or on the beach, you may as well go all out and have your meals cooked for you as well—it can be incredibly restful to know that your only order of that day will be to rest!
An all-inclusive holiday does not mean you cannot experience another culture, however – you just have to take some initiative. Popping out to the food market or spending an afternoon shopping or browsing museums will give you a glimpse into local life. Just be aware when booking your holiday that many all-inclusive resorts end up being somewhat removed from urban areas, and it may be difficult to get into town.
Families vs. solo travellers
Entertaining children on holiday can sometimes be difficult and rarely gives parents a break from the stress of watching what the kids are up to. All-inclusive resorts provide the ideal solution as most have a kids club and full programme of activities kids love to get involved with, led by certified professionals, therefore allowing parents some alone time to relax and enjoy their holiday.
All inclusive resorts are also easy places to meet people, which can be an advantage for solo travellers as well. However, hotel pricing is typically based on a per room basis rather than per person, and you therefore may have to pay twice as much for a single room (the dreaded “single supplement”). This can often be avoided with self-catering accommodation.
The type of accommodation you choose really comes down to what you want from your holiday – some folks are more than happy to let others do the “work” for them, which others are excited by the planning and adventure of self-catering. Whichever you choose, we wish you happy travels!