Are you thinking of booking an all-inclusive trip to Mexico? But not sure what to expect? Read on for 12 tips of things to do before and during your all inclusive Mexico vacation to have an amazing time.
All-inclusive beach resorts are available throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, and other tropical destinations. I wasn’t sure I would like an all-inclusive resort but have stayed at a couple of different ones in the Riveria Maya area of Mexico and am now a convert. While the tips below can apply to any all-inclusive destination, the focus will be on those located in the Cancun / Riveria Maya / Playa del Carmen area of Mexico.
What Does All-Inclusive Mean?
All-inclusive can vary widely from resort to resort but all-inclusive resorts typically include lodging, all of your meals, tips, resort amenities, and transportation to and from the airport. It is important to read the hotel’s policy to make sure that you fully understand what is included and what isn’t. I recommend you do this BEFORE booking so that there aren’t any surprises. If you’re unsure if something is included ask beforehand.
All-inclusive vacations can be a very affordable vacation for singles, couples, and families. If an all-inclusive package includes the items mentioned above, you can literally not spend any money during your vacation. This is one of the major advantages of an all-inclusive vacation.
Things to Do Before You Leave
1) Family or Adults-Only All-Inclusive?
The first thing you need to do when researching all-inclusive vacations is to decide what type of resort do you want to stay at? There are all-inclusive family resorts, adults-only all-inclusive resorts, and those that offer areas on the property that cater to families and adults separately. Decide what type of resort is the best fit for you and focus on resorts that meet that criteria.
There is also a wide range of pricing for all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and other areas on the Yucatan Penisula. Again, decide what’s important to you and what you want to spend and research properties in your price range.
When looking at resort packages, look to see if spending a little more will get your more in terms of amenities and options. I’ve opted to spend a minimal amount more at both of the properties I’ve stayed at (less than $100 per person) to gain access to the adult-only section of one property and to have more dining options at another. Review all of the package options because I’ve found that a little more money goes a long way.
2) Review Resort Amenities Before You Go
Once you’ve decided on the resort package you want to book, review the resort amenities included with that package. Also, review the amenities available on the property. Are water sports important to you? If so, does your property have them available for guests or would you need to rent from a vendor on the beach? Do you want scheduled activities for your family or are you looking to do nothing more than relax on the beach? Reviewing the amenities beforehand will ensure there are no surprises and help you plan your vacation.
3) Review Food Options Before You Go
While meals are included in your all-inclusive vacation, each resort has different dining options and different rules for using those options. Review the package you have selected to see if it gives you access to specialty or a la carte restaurants. If it does, can you visit one of those restaurants each night? At my first visit to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico our package gave us two nights at an a la carte restaurant while my second visit to a different resort allowed us to use the specialty restaurants every night.
Reviewing your package options and making some initial plans before you leave will reduce the number of decisions you need to make once you start your vacation.
4) Pack Light
You’re in Mexico! You pretty much just need a swimsuit and a couple of outfits. Bring at least one nice outfit for restaurants that may have a dress code. But even if there is a dress code, expect it to be casual with men generally able to wear bermuda shorts or casual pants and nice shorts, pants or casual dresses for women.
Make sure to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and a few basic first-aid supplies like bandaids, first aid ointment, aspirin, and stomach medicine. I also like to bring a small bottle of aloe vera gel in case of sunburn. All-inclusive resorts in Mexico usually have a gift shop that carries these items but the prices will be way higher than what you will pay at home.
5) Bring Small Bills for Tips
Tipping is one of the things that may be included in your vacation package. Some resorts even have a no-tipping policy. I like to have some small bills to tip the people that handle my luggage for me and to leave a tip for housekeeping. If you have a bartender or server that provides great service, consider tipping them as well.
It’s also nice to have cash, particularly small bills, for taking taxis off the property. US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted. You might consider exchanging some of your local currency for Pesos for use if you make any small purchases when you leave the resort property.
6) Dress in Layers
The first and last day of your all-inclusive vacation to Mexico will be long days. More than likely you will catch an early flight from home, take that flight, get through immigration in Mexico, find your airport transfer, drive from the airport to the resort, check-in at the resort, and then possibly wait for your room to be ready. If you are coming from someplace cooler than Mexico, you will want to make sure you have a light jacket or something you can wear there and then easily put in your suitcase so you don’t melt in the Mexican humidity.
The same applies when returning home. Dress in layers that allow you to add or remove clothing as the temperature changes on your journey.
Things to Do At Your All-Inclusive
7) Don’t Take Off Your Wristband
You will be given a wristband when you check in to the resort. The wristband serves as your access to the resort and there may be different colored wristbands at a resort to indicate what areas you have access to. For example, the color of our wristband on our recent vacation let staff know we had access to adult-only areas. Our wristband also had a sensor in it that served as our room key. I loved this as it meant one less thing to keep up with!
When leaving your all-inclusive resort in Mexico, flip your band inside out. There are some locals in Playa del Carmen that will know what resort you are staying at based on your wristband and will catch your attention by saying they are your waiter and then will take you to a shop. I fell for this on my first trip and while nothing bad happened, it was an inconvenience.
8) Review Restaurant Options & Make Reservations
You reviewed the food options before leaving, but make sure you review the options again once you arrive at your all-inclusive resort. Many resorts have a schedule where one restaurant is closed each day of the week. We were aware of this on our recent vacation but didn’t plan out our week. Which meant we showed up at a restaurant on the night it was closed and had to visit another one.
If your package allows you to make reservations do that early in the trip to make sure you get to visit all of the restaurants you want to visit. Another tip is to go to a la carte or specialty restaurants early. If you go during the busiest time to eat dinner you may have to wait for a table.
9) Check for Special Amenities and Use Them
Check to see if your all-inclusive resort offers any unusual or special amenities. Ours had a healthy bar where we could get delicious smoothies in the morning, day privileges at their sister resort, use of bikes, and use of water equipment such as kayaks and snorkeling gear. Taking advantage of these types of features will make your vacation all that more memorable.
10) Expect Wi-Fi Service to Be Spotty
This is a tough one in this day and age, but it’s just the plain truth. I often work while on vacation and need access to the internet. And while most resorts will offer wi-fi, you will need to check to see if access is included in your package or if there is an extra charge.
Many of the buildings at the resorts in Mexico are concrete which makes getting a strong signal difficult. At both resorts I stayed at, the service was fabulous at the pool or beach, but spotty in my room. But stepping out to the balcony or sometimes just opening the balcony door fixed the issue.
11) Try Something New
Use your time at an all-inclusive resort to try something new! There are always lots of activities at an all-inclusive resort. Use the opportunity to try something you haven’t done before. I didn’t think I was a foam party kind of person, but it turns out I loved it! Same for the hot/cold water circuit in the spa. I probably wouldn’t have tried it if I had to pay for it, but the fact that it was included in my resort package gave me the opportunity to try something without any risk.
12) Consider Leaving the Property
One of the appealing things about an all-inclusive vacation is that you can stay in that spot for the length of your stay. You don’t have to leave the resort property, but I encourage you to consider doing so. Unfortunately, Mexico receives a lot of bad press, especially here in the United States, as a dangerous destination. I know many people that won’t consider visiting this beautiful country because of it. Or if they do go to an all-inclusive they won’t leave the property.
In Mexico, as in any destination, use common sense and you will be fine. All-inclusive resorts in Cancun, Riveria Maya, and Playa del Carman are located where not only are there gorgeous beaches but other attractions you should consider visiting. This includes the many Mayan ruins located on the Yucatan Penisula and the vibrant city of Playa del Carman. You can book tours directly at your resort where you will be picked up and dropped off on-site. You will also find taxis very easy to use in Mexico with friendly and helpful drivers.
Have you stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico? If so, what suggestions do you have for getting the most out of this type of vacation?