Category Archives: Beach Vacations

All Inclusive Resorts – Are They Right For You?

Destinations such as Aruba, Cancun, St. Thomas, and Bahamas have an infrastructure that is well suited to all-inclusive and not all inclusive resorts because there is a wide election of restaurants and amenities for tourism. Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on the other hand don’t have the tourism infrastructure in place and are best suited for all inclusive vacations.

You’ll want to consider carefully before choosing an all inclusive resort. Resorts do vary — some are designed for couples, some for singles, some for gays and some for families. Some cater to a younger or older crowd. There are also some that offer clothing-optional activities. For obvious reasons, most of those don’t allow children under 18.

The resorts come in all shapes and sizes. Some include airfare and hotel. Some include airfare, hotel, transfers, and some meals. Others include all meals and activities, but not airfare. Often, purchasing airfare as part of the package can be a better deal than doing so separately, unless you are using frequent flier miles.

Many all inclusives have, as part of their program, child-care facilities that are often a resort-within-the-resort for children, a “day camp” that is special and that kids look forward to attending. And many all-inclusive resorts give incredible price breaks to children (they don’t drink liquor, after all,) while some even have no charge for children up to 17 sharing their parents’ room.

All inclusive resorts

What are the advantages?

The security of knowing that one price covers everything, with none of those nasty surprises that can blast a hole in any family’s travel budget. All meals, entertainment, activities and sports, as well as airfare and accommodations, are generally included in one price. You can forget your worries about carrying lots of extra cash for expenses, and just sit back and enjoy your vacation.

Who should check out all inclusive resorts?

Travelers who are: on a tight budget, traveling with the kids, receiving the trip as a wedding gifts or getting married on the honeymoon.

All inclusive resorts

So, is an all inclusive resort right for you?

Generally, If you are the type of traveler that enjoys sampling all of the local fare, then spending all of your time at an all-inclusive resort is probably not for you. If you like to go somewhere just to relax and not worry about taking out your wallet every couple of hours to pay for food, drinks, or activities, then there’s probably an all-inclusive resort that’s just right for you.

Also, If you like to stay up all night partying and drinking, if you want to take advantage of all the included watersports and activities, if you want to have food and snacks available all day and if you don’t want to have to worry about the final bill when you check out, an all-inclusive is definitely a viable option. Some resorts even boast 24-hour room service.

All-inclusive resorts can be costly. On the other hand, they can also provide great value. If you are going to a destination where the cost of meals, snacks, liquor and activities are expensive, and your hotel or resort is high-quality with an expensive nightly rate, an all inclusive might end up saving you money.

If, on the other hand, you don’t drink much, you enjoy lazing on the beach and getting an early nights sleep, you are dieting and choose simple salads for your meals, you would probably be overspending for an all-inclusive resort. Bear in mind the drinks are only the cheap local which are not very strong.

On the down side of all-inclusive vacations, some folks get a bit weary of dining in the same restaurant night after night. The resort rooms may be smaller than standard hotel rooms. Some, not all of the all-inclusive resorts provide shows. And some of them have different show every night.

Antigua all inclusive resorts

Some resorts have kids clubs for the little ones. Kids clubs begin at any hotel at 4 years of age. Nannies or babysitters are extra costs not included in the all-inclusive package. Almost all the all inclusives have activities from beach volleyball to bingo and other games.

It’s a good idea if you want a cashless vacation in a secured environment, if you are satisfied that the dining options offered will be suitable for your tastes, if you take advantage of the watersports, child-care and bars.

If you are adventurous and want to spend your days exploring the country you are visiting and your evenings trying in-town dining options, you would be better off choosing a resort that offers that kind of flexibility instead of an all inclusive.

What is usually included in the package?

All inclusive resort pool

All meals and drinks, beer, wine, premium liquor and tipping, government taxes, gratuities, entertainment, activities and sports, as well as airfare and accommodations, are generally included in one price.

Airfare and hotel transfers are optional when buying all inclusive package. Tipping is not allowed. One benefit of the all-inclusive resort is that the single up-front price covers unlimited activities.

Phone calls and items purchased at the gift shop are included. The more expensive all-inclusive resorts is going to have the nice sit-down restaurants. The next step down will have all buffet dining.

All inclusive resort chilling.
Carefree woman resting, drinking fruit juice on beach.

Tennis and squash courts may be free and often night-lit courts at no charge, but bring your rackets, as you’ll probably have to pay to rent them. Most packages do not include golfing fees. In most cases you have to rent a golf cart, but compared to the price of play on most courses, that cost is negligible. Sailing craft are free as often as not. Snorkels, masks and fins are usually free, but may have a time limit (note: bring masks from home if you can, keeping in mind that the one-size-fits-all variety is often useless on little faces, leaving kids to snorkel miserably with a face-full of salt water). On-property snorkeling is free, but the most interesting underwater sights are usually somewhere else. The latter will cost you, if not for the snorkeling itself, then for the transportation to get there and back.

With motorized sports costs can climb upwards of $60 an hour. Parasailing is another costly venture. Divers, too, might find an all-inclusive cost-effective. Tanks have to be paid for separately, but diving excursions are included in some of these resorts. If you are not certified, most resorts offer a “resort certification” which will allow you to go on closely supervised guided dives.

A resort certification is a great introduction to the sport. If, however, you are already a certified diver, some resorts, such as Sandals, Beaches, and Gala Resorts, offer one or two tank dives a day in their all-inclusive packages.

Many all inclusive resorts offer spa treatments as part of their packages, with the option of paying for more intensive therapies.

Do not forget to budget extra cash for some excursions that weren’t included in all inclusive package. A swim with the dolphins, for example, runs about $100 per person — more than small change if you’re traveling with a family of four.

Consider carefully these additional factors before purchasing an all inclusive vacation resort package.

Price is often relative to quality. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, sometimes it’s possible to get an amazing and legitimate deal, as long as you’re looking in the right places – Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations, TNT Vacations and numerous smaller wholesalers.

Look for deals. Check websites for details. Check to see what’s included in the price, so you don’t incur any additional costs that you’re not prepared to pay for.

Organize any visas and travel insurance policies well in advance. Your tour operator and travel agent should advise you on all of these but you should also contact the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting for information about visas.


It is important that you speak with your doctor about the necessary immunizations for the areas you are traveling to. When you’re traveling in Mexico, you must take extra care when it comes to drinking water, or fresh beverages that may have tap water added to them. Check ice also – ask if it was made with tap water – it is unlikely that your ice will have been made with tap water; but its worth asking in more rustic establishments and rural areas. Salads can also be dangerous if they have been rinsed with tap water. The rule is – if in doubt, ask first! All main hotels and good restaurants use purified water throughout

In order to be eligible for special honeymoon offers and discounts, it’s wise to take a copy of your marriage certificate with you as proof that you are on honeymoon.

All inclusive resorts.

If you are a single parent, or if your partner will not be traveling with you and your children for whatever reason, you must get a notarized letter from the absent parent, giving consent for the child or children to be traveling with one parent absent.

If you are estranged from your partner, and you are the legal guardian of your child/children, you can take a copy of the court order (note: original only – no copies!) with you and this will suffice to get your child or children with you.

vacation chairs.
deckchairs on jetty in front of tropical island

If you are a widow or widower, you will need to write a letter to explain this and get it, and a copy of the death certificate, notarized and carry both of these documents with you when you travel.

Additionally, if you are under 18 and want to travel without your parents, you will need to carry with you a notarized letter of consent signed by both parents.

Furthermore, if you are a lone parent or will be traveling with your children but without your partner, or under 18 traveling alone, get the required paperwork together before you leave. Airlines are now refusing to board lone parents and children and children traveling unaccompanied without this notarized letter of consent.

All Inclusive Resorts

Many hotels in Mexico set age restrictions during spring break. Here’s an example of many hotel Spring Break policy:

Hotel will accept individual and student group bookings.

A refundable deposit of $200 per person and credit card are required at time of check in.

Any credit cards used must be issued in guest’s name.

Guests may be required to sign an agreement/list of rules at check in.

Click here for all inclusive resorts

Check out Sandals for best best all inclusive resort prices!

At least one person per room must satisfy the minimum age requirement for check in for individual student bookings.

At least one adult for every 20 students is required for student group bookings.

If you or someone in your party is confined to a wheelchair, you’ll want to explore accessibility issues very carefully. Ask your travel agent specific questions that may concern you.

Always have a way out. Ask about cancellation policies, and look into travel insurance, especially if you are booking through an online agency. Choose wisely and make sure the resort’s amenities and programs fit your lifestyle and character, and you’ll have the time of your life!

Florida Beach Vacation Rental – Tips on Selecting

Summer is just around the corner, and for many families that means a trip to Fabulous Florida and one of the gorgeous beaches that cover more than 660 miles of the Sunshine State’s coastlines. No matter where you are in the vacation planning process, we’ll start at the beginning and work forward. If you have already covered some of the steps below to select your Florida beach vacation rental, maybe these tips will come in handy next time!


First things first, of course, and the most basic decision you have to make is where in those 600-plus miles of beaches do you want to spend your precious vacation time? There are many factors to consider — distance from your hometown and travel time involved, vacation rental price, features and availability; activities that are important to your family, such as boating, snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, hiking, etc.; and for some, pet-friendly beaches and accommodations. Some beaches are bustling and busy, like Panama City, Clearwater, Siesta, Destin, Miami and others.

Florida beach vacation rental

Accommodations vary as well — some have lots of high-rise condominiums and therefore a lot more rental units as well as a lot more guests. Other vacation spots tend toward lower density and smaller number of units, like Cape San Blas, for example. There are about a dozen areas of the state that have a pet-friendly beach. Read the restrictions for the various destinations so you fully understand what limitations, if any, there are to bringing your dog. For example, at Cape San Blas, dogs are welcomed on leash on the beaches of Gulf County with the exception of within St. Joseph’s Peninsula State park, where they are not permitted. Some beaches have limited areas where dogs are permitted or certain hours.


The wonders of the Internet make narrowing your choice of location a lot easier than it once was! Using a Google search for phrases that describe what you are looking for can give you a list of locations to begin researching more carefully. Try searches like “Pet-friendly Family Florida Beach Rentals” or “Uncrowded Florida Beach Rentals” or other search strings that appeal to your family. Ask for recommendations from others who have had positive vacation experiences. Many counties or cities will have tourist forums, where you can log on and ask questions.

Family beach vacation rental

Everybody has a “perfect” beach destination they love. Just like some folks prefer chocolate and some vanilla, I am not going to try to tell you what I think would be your best choices. I can tell you what beaches I like, but that’s about it. My current favorite is Cape San Blas, where we have our rental business and two homes. Why do we love the Cape? We like the low density, the gorgeous sunsets, the fabulous beaches, the fishing and scalloping (St. Joe Bay is considered a Pristine Florida Water, and the oysters, fish and scallops are amazing). We like hiking in the State Park and riding horses on the beach. We love that our dogs are allowed on the beach as well. But again, there are many wonderful beaches in Florida. Just find the best fit for your family and go for it!


Okay, you’ve picked a destination. Good for you! Now you need to select a vacation rental unit. Just like there were lots of factors to consider when choosing a beach that fits your family’s needs, the same is true for picking the right property. Finding the right combination of bedrooms, amenities, views, features, and price can seem daunting at first. It’s best to decide your priorities before you start making inquiries on rental sites or calling vacation rental companies or hotels. Why? If your budget is $4000 for the week, stumbling over that $10,000 a week mansion with use of your own motorboat is just going to leave you feeling deprived. My tips for you when considering your Florida beach vacation rental options:

  1. The closer to the gulf and the beach, the more expensive the unit will be. If budget is a big factor, accepting a walk of even 125 to 200 steps (about 2 minutes’ walk) can save you big on the bottom line for your home or condo or hotel room. But if it’s beachfront or nothing, baby, well, just know you will pay a little more. I always insisted on gulf-front for my family’s one week in paradise each year too, and it was worth every dime extra we paid to hear those ocean waves, feel that sea breeze and watch the sunset from the deck every day.
Vacation rental chairs


  1. Amenities come at a price tag. If a private pool is a “must” for you, know you’ll pay more for that rental home than one with a community pool or no pool at all. An elevator may be great for the loading in and loading out, but if everybody in your party is able-bodied, you can save a few bucks bypassing the homes with the elevators — and get some cardio during the week taking the stairs, too. More basic amenities like free Internet don’t add much to the price these days, but they can be important to traveling business owners or students with papers to turn in during vacation.
  2. Maximum occupancy and bedding configurations. I always counsel my guests if you can avoid using the sleeper sofa, do it. One of my personal vacation rentals offers a sleeper sofa in the loft, and it gives you more privacy and can be a good option for teenagers especially. But if you have no option but to use the sleeper in the main living room, so be it. Also look at the various bedding configurations. If you need 1 king bed and 2 queens, you’ll narrow down your search and eliminate rentals with twin beds and bunk beds.
  1. What’s supplied? In our vacation community, there’s a vast difference from unit to unit on what’s included in your rental as standard options. Some provide linens and towels as part of the rent. While others provide them for an additional charge. Some don’t provide them at all, and you have to bring them from home. Same is true for things like beach chairs, beach cart for a unit that is a distance from the gulf, gas grills, games, puzzles, movie libraries, starters of kitchen and laundry supplies, pet towels and sheets in pet-friendly units and much more. When you compare Rental A to Rental B, be sure that they’re comparably appointed. If not, consider if there is a price savings to “tote your own” and whether it’s worth it to you to have the savings, if any, or the convenience.

Whew, that was hard work. Now it’s time to get ready to go, finally!

Cheap Beach Vacations – How to Save Money

Imagine waking up one morning to a beautiful sunrise coming up from the horizon, its rays bouncing off the crystal clear water of the ocean, salt water permeating the air and your nostrils. Whether you are single, a couple, with your family, children or friends, a morning like this can occur during cheap beach vacations. Inexpensive holidays and cheap beach vacations don’t have to break your wallet or your budget and finding the perfect vacation spot while also saving money will be less tricky if you stick to some of these tips. Cheap beach vacationers can cut back on the luxuries that they have become accustomed to by setting a plan to budget, plan ahead with food choices and choosing inexpensive activities to do.

Know your Budget and Set a Plan

Many vacationers are looking for affordable beach vacations to spend their holidays. With the abundance of vacation packages and information available online, people can now take their dream trips by planning accordingly to their budgets and time frames. For cheap beach vacations, the location will play a key part in offering you the best place to visit at a reasonable price. Whether you choose a location that is local, out-of-state or out of the country, you should find the beach that will be affordable. If you live near a local beach, you will probably already know where best places to stay are at. You can even plan to camp near a beach campsite or at an RV park. Locals have insider knowledge of how to spend their time while staying economical.

Spend Wisely On Your Cheap Beach Vacation

If you set your budget plan already and want to book a trip out-of-state or out of the country, look for bargains on airline tickets through budget websites. Often times, airline companies have their discount deals posting online. A great way to make sure that the information you’re given about the deals is to sign up for special alerts that are featured on many online travel sites. Travel packages are also a way to pick the best fit for the amount you are willing to spend on a cheap beach vacations. Packages are available for trips to Hawaii, Florida, California, East Coast states like Maryland and also Mexico and tropical islands. Depending on where you wish to go, you can tailor your budget to fit the expenses you anticipate spending on your trip.

Cheap beach vacation ideas

Save Money by Planning Ahead on Food

If it’s possible, try to book a hotel room that has an indoor kitchenette, including refrigerator, stove and microwave for quicker and easier cooking. This way, you can reheat or cook food in the same spot where you’re staying, eliminating the need to go out and search for places to eat. If you do plan to eat out, stay where there are restaurants or stores that are within walking distance, giving you more of an advantage to local hangouts with inexpensive foods without having to spend on taxi rides or gas money.

You can purchase food at local stores while on your cheap beach vacation and enjoy a picnic on the beach with lunch meats and snacks. Citrus fruits are usually convenient around the beach areas and are fairly cheap and very delectable. Try to also find deals that hotels offer, such as continental breakfasts or coupons to restaurants nearby. A continental breakfast is a free way to save over ten dollars every day that you might normally spend. Coupons that hotels will have can involve restaurant deals such as buy one get one free and kids eating free. The longer the stay on your vacation the more you will save by utilizing the offers.

Inexpensive Activities on your Cheap Beach Vacations

After you have found an affordable place to stay, you can have time to find even affordable activities. The activities that you want to enjoy during your stay on the beach or near a beach don’t have to be extravagant and can be kept simple. On beach activities can be the most inexpensive way to spend your time. A beach is there for walking on, enjoying the sand by building sand castles and exploring. Sunbathing with locals or tourists on the beach can be a great way to soak up the sun and perhaps meet new people on vacation. If you are the type who is overstressed and wanting your vacation to be a way to distress from everyday life, relaxing near the beach can be calming and soothing. Some people will take pleasure from sight-seeing. Beaches will often have many different floral landscapes and wildlife that seasoned travelers who sport compact binoculars or a monocular can spend time looking at. Other activities on the beach can include finding and collecting sea shells under the sand.

  1. Dunes Village Resort – Myrtle Beach, SC
  2. Ka’anapali Beach Hotel – Lahaina, HI
  3. Comfort Suites Paradise Island – Nassau, Bahamas
  4. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Orlando, FL
  5. IBEROSTAR Paraiso Beach – Riviera Maya, Mexico
  6. Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach – Virginia Beach, VA
  7. Disney’s Pop Century Resort – Orlando, FL
  8. Great Wolf Lodge – Multiple Locations
  9. Tyler Place Family Resort – Swanton, VT
  10. Lutsen Resort – Lutsen, MN

Offshore activities can be great fun on cheap beach vacations and you can make sure that it won’t harm your cash flow. A walk on the boardwalk can offer you amazing views of the ocean and people on the sand. Some beaches will offer discounted fares on boat rides, jet skis and even surfing or swimming lessons. What a great way to spend your vacation by learning how to surf on the waves. You can bring back awesome memories of your time and even want to come back to other beaches to see what other activities you can enjoy.

Plan as early as possible for your cheap beach vacation and it will allow you to find the best deals, knowing how to save on eating, activities and allow for more flexibility to change. You can book packages to trips up to three months in advance and your activities that you want to take part in can be much cheaper. If you can’t plan ahead, the internet will offer awesome last-minute trips for beach sites. A beach vacation does not have to be completely expensive and with a few penny-pinching techniques, your dream trip will be able to give more bangs for your buck. Plus you can bet that you will save on money and profit in memories that will last over the years.

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