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All-Inclusive Vacations
A Primer

December 2003 Issue

Bringing Up Baby
Little tips that
may help

Winter Crafts
for Kids

A Growing Interest
Fun plant projects
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A primer

Nighty Night
Sleep and children

Did You Know

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If driving all over creation, hunting for restaurants and scrambling for room reservations doesn’t seem like a relaxing way to spend your family vacation, rethink your next vacation and investigate the option of an all-inclusive vacation package. An all-inclusive vacation resort can be much more economical than you could ever imagine. All-inclusive vacations combine lodging, food and activities for one price paid up front—no need to carry excessive amounts of money with you. Often, airfare and airport transfers to and from the resort can be included as well to make vacation planning a one-call process.

ResortBefore you start your search, there are some key things to think about. If you have children, make sure you search for a resort that has activities for kids. Many resorts have special areas for children with supervised activities and other things to keep them entertained during the day.

Quality of food spans a wide range in an all-inclusive vacation. Ask around and check with your travel agent and on-line opinion sites to help gauge the quality of food offered at various resorts (try an online search for the name of a resort in question and the word "review"). A typical all-inclusive resort has a number of "specialty" restaurants that you will be allowed to eat in a specific number of times, depending upon the length of your stay. Most often, you will need to make reservations for your meals as soon as possible upon arrival (due to resort capacity and limited seating). Other meals usually take place at one or more buffet restaurants on-site, which have a revolving menu throughout the week (so guests have a varied menu offering each day).

Many all-inclusives include alcoholic drinks in the package price. However, note that the alcohol served will most often be "rail" alcohol and not always "top shelf" liquor. For tropical drinks and mixed drinks, this is usually more than sufficient.

Most all-inclusive resorts say that tipping the staff is not necessary. Many times, however, a simple $1.00 tip for housekeeping or servers in restaurants will improve your service. If your all-inclusive resort choice is in the Caribbean or another destination where wages are low, a U.S. dollar carries much more value than the national currency so what seems to be pocket change to you is, in reality, a sizable sum. Also, small trinkets such as grooming items, hand creams, makeup or coloring books, crayons, etc. make wonderful "gifts" for housekeeping staff especially since many such items are hard to find in developing countries. Such items can be purchased at a dollar store at home and taken along.

If your vacation choice is in another country, be aware of a few things. Most staff will have a working knowledge of English. However, do yourself a favor and take a bit of time in advance to learn key phrases of courtesy and commonly used words so you will be able to communicate a bit more clearly. The effort you extend to communicate will be more than adequately returned and appreciated. Water and digestive problems are also a concern for many traveling internationally. Many resorts now provide bottled water in the room to help alleviate any fears or digestive problems. Remember, however, routine acts such as brushing your teeth are often done using tap water. Replace that tap water with bottled water and you should be fine. Also note that lettuce for salad may be rinsed in water, although most resorts claim to use purified water for cooking purposes.

Last but not least, if you decide to vacation in a sunny spot, remember to use excessive amounts of sun block, especially with your children. You will most likely be closer to the equator and the sun’s rays are much more intense. Also, use a hat or apply sunscreen to your scalp (your head can get very burned, very quickly).

Most importantly, consult your travel agent and research your options online. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. With a little common sense and reasonable expectations, an all-inclusive family vacation can be a relaxing and totally enjoyable change from your usual getaway!

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