Before explaining how you can buy an all-inclusive package, here's a rundown of what types of vacations might be found under that general term:
- All-inclusive beach resorts. Generally, the term "all-inclusive package" refers to an all-inclusive resort typically found in Mexico and the Caribbean. When you book a stay at an all-inclusive resort, you pay one price up front, and that usually includes your transfers to and from the airport, all meals, lodging accommodations, entertainment, sports and recreation activities (such as use of gear like sea kayaks, bicycles, tennis rackets and snorkel gear) and use of a kids' club. You'll find most all-inclusive resorts at beach destinations, such as Sandals, Couples, Beaches and Palace Resorts. And giant vacation packagers like Apple Vacations and FunJet Vacations sell all-inclusive resort accommodations as well as airfare to dozens of beach destinations. Club Med offers all-inclusive packages in its "villages" all over the globe, from Indonesia to Africa, Florida to French Polynesia.
- Ocean cruises. It wouldn't be inappropriate to include ocean cruises under the category of "all-inclusive" packages. After all, the price of an ocean cruise, whether it's sailing to Alaska, Hawaii, the Galapagos or the Mediterranean, typically includes full board-plenty of buffet meals and a la carte dinners to keep you well fed for the duration of your trip.
- River cruises. These cruises sail through the scenic waterways in Central and Northern Europe, docking along the way at various port towns. (Visit Avalon Waterways for itinerary examples.) With river cruises, much of the sightseeing is included, as well as meals.
- Escorted travel. With tours, such as those offered by Globus, all lodging, transportation between cities, many meals, tour director assistance and most local sightseeing tours are included in one fee. It's the same thing with adventure travel packages (see Austin Lehman Adventures for examples), which include similar services, but on a more active scale.
So, once you've used your favorite search engine to do some online research into different all-inclusive trips, there are a couple of different ways to actually book and buy your all-inclusive package:
- Visit a travel agent. Your local travel agent (ask friends for referrals or check your local Yellow Pages) is a wealth of information when it comes to all-inclusive packages. Typically travel agents are well-traveled and have experience vacationing with a few different all-inclusive outfitters. You might also visit AllInclusiveOutlet or AllInclusives, which specialize in all-inclusive beach vacations. Or check out Affordable Tours, which does huge volume selling cruises and tours. Book through these agents' websites or talk to a representative and make your reservations over the phone.
- Book directly online. If you've narrowed down your trip, most all-inclusive packages can be booked with the resort property directly at its website (or with the vacation packagers mentioned above, such as Apple Vacations). Reserving and paying for vacations online these days is safe, simple and convenient. But if you have any concerns, use a travel agent.
No matter what type of trip you book, and no matter how you book, make sure you read the fine print. You want to be aware of what you're paying for and what you're entitled to well before you land at your vacation destination. Happy travels!