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All-inclusive Vs Self-catering: The Great Holiday Dilemma

Summertime is here again and whether you've already booked your getaway or are hoping to get a steal of a deal last minute, you're probably wondering what type of accommodation to go for. a child drinking milk at the pool with a straw

Do you want the freedom and flexibility of self-catering or the ease and convenience of an all-inclusive resort?

Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you make your decision:

Self-Catering Holidays

Self-catering is ideal if you're on a budget as it generally works out cheaper than staying in a hotel, especially if you're travelling as a group or family.

You'll have your own kitchen so you can cook meals when you want and save money by eating in rather than going out for every meal.

Self-catering also gives you more freedom as you're not tied to mealtimes or set menus, and you can come and go as you please without having to worry about adhering to hotel curfew hours.

It also helps massively if you have a child/children who are maybe fussy eaters or have certain dietary requirements that, ultimately, could be much harder to cater for off a hotel's menu/buffet, etc.

The main downside of self-catering is that it will, most likely, be more work than staying in a hotel as you're taking care of all the things hotel staff normally would, ie. cooking, cleaning, tidying and washing.

You also won't have access to hotel facilities such as a swimming pool or spa, and if you're staying in an apartment rather than a villa, there may not be much of a view to enjoy either, however, that's not to say that it can't be found in a rental or self-catering property.

Depending on what you're looking for, plenty offer swimming pools, play areas, BBQ facilities and more.

A spa might be harder to come by, so perhaps book this separately or bring your own stash of face masks and oils for a relaxing DIY experience!

Related: 10 Amazing Tips for the Perfect BBQ

All Inclusive Holidays

On the flip side, all-inclusive resorts are a great option if you want to just relax and not have to worry about anything during your stay.

All your meals, drinks and activities will have been paid for upfront so there's no need to carry any cash around with you - simply sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday.

A lot of all-inclusive resorts will also be located in stunning locations with beautiful beaches and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, so it really is the epitome of a hassle-free getaway.

Of course, as with anything, there are downsides; the main one being that you will be spending most of your time within the confines of the resort.

Although most hotels will have some variation of guided tours on offer, if you're someone who likes to explore and experience a new place in your time, this might not be the holiday for you...

Also, because all-inclusive resorts are generally quite large with plenty of guests, you may find that service isn't always as personalised as it would be in a smaller hotel or rental.

And finally, as you're paying for everything upfront, it is always recommended to read the small print before signing on the dotted line:

  • Ensure you know exactly what is included in the upfront costs; not every hotel will included branded alcohol/spirits.
  • Not all eateries within your chosen hotel or resort will be free.
  • This last one tends to catch a lot of people out, so beware: Check if any additional costs are incurred for activities taking place in resort/hotel - know what you're getting before you jet off!

Related: 23 Reasons To Holiday In The UK This Year

All Inclusive Or Self Catering With Toddler/Young Children?

There's no straight answer to this one as it really depends on the age of your child/children and what you're personally looking for in a holiday.

Older children will probably be more content with staying in one place and having access to plenty of activities, whereas younger children or babies may benefit more from being in a home-away-from-home environment where they can carry on their usual routines.

If you're considering an all-inclusive holiday but are worried about your little ones getting bored, check to see if your chosen resort to see what kind of activities or clubs they run for children - many will have babysitting services too so you can enjoy some time to yourselves.

On the other hand, if you're set on having a self-catering holiday with your children in tow, make sure to do your research and find somewhere that is toddler/baby friendly.

Villas with their own pool tend to be a big hit with families as they offer both the space to run around and the safety of being fenced off from any open water.

Some apartments will also offer this, but it's always best to check beforehand.

If you're opting for a rental property over a resort, another thing to consider is how close by shops/restaurants are - nobody wants to be trekking around looking for food with tired kids in tow!

Related: 6 Fantastic Staycation Destinations For Parents & Kids


Are self-catering holidays cheaper?

This depends on a number of factors, but as a general rule, self-catering holidays can work out to be cheaper than all-inclusive ones. Of course, it really does depend on your personal circumstances and what kind of holiday you're looking for. If you know you'll be spending most of your time at the resort/hotel and eating all your meals there, it may work out to be cheaper to go for an all-inclusive option.

Does all-inclusive work out cheaper?

Again, this is difficult to say as it depends on a number of different factors. Generally speaking, all-inclusive holidays can be more expensive than self-catering ones - but this isn't always the case. It really does come down to personal preference and what you want to get out of your holiday.

Why is full board more expensive than all-inclusive?

Full-board holidays are often more expensive than all-inclusive ones as they include the cost of your food and drink, but not your activities or accommodation. All-inclusive holidays, on the other hand, will cover the cost of your food, drink, activities and accommodation - making them a more expensive option overall.

Do all-inclusive vacations get cheaper closer to date?

No, not always. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. All-inclusive holidays are often cheaper when booked well in advance, as this allows you to take advantage of early bird discounts and special offers. However, if you leave it too late to book, you may find that prices have increased.

Is it weird to go to an all-inclusive alone?

Many people choose to go on all-inclusive holidays by themselves. This is because they offer a great way to relax and unwind without having to worry about cooking or cleaning.  All-inclusive holidays are also a great option if you're looking to meet new people, as you'll be staying in close proximity to other guests.

Why do people choose all-inclusive?

There are many reasons why people choose all-inclusive holidays. For some, it's the convenience of having everything included in one price. Others might choose all-inclusive because they want to be able to relax and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning. And for others, it might be the social aspect of being able to meet new people while on holiday. Whatever the reason, all-inclusive holidays are a popular choice for many people.

Wrapping Up:

All-inclusive holidays and self-catering holidays both have their pros and cons, so it really does come down to what you're looking for in a holiday.

If you want convenience and don't mind not having too much control over your food options, then all-inclusive is the way to go.

However, if you're after a more affordable option or prefer to have the freedom to eat out at local restaurants, then self-catering might be a better choice.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what kind of holiday you want - so weigh up your options and choose the one that's right for you!

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