The All-Inclusive vs. The Ala Carte Holiday

The All-Inclusive vs. The Ala Carte Holiday

You’re on holiday and you really want to be pampered but…….you’ll have to pack on some credit card debt to pull this off.  You’re choosing an all-inclusive hangout in the Caribbean (maybe Fiji or Bali) for the special treatment you deserve…..being pampered without bounds (well without much bounds, okay).

I particularly like this….all-inclusive.  The whistles and the bells!  Dang this sounds nice.  I enjoyed the taste of this experience in Costa Rica’s Montana del Fuego Resort next to Arenal Volcano.  It was definitely special and I did take advantage of some of the perks……there just wasn’t many that didn’t have an additional price tag.

Just the same it was enjoyable.

Then there’s the ala carte holiday.  While you may not being packing away your credit card……you won’t be packing on a lot of debt.  I just use it for convenience and perhaps a special purchase or two and just pay it off when I return home.

I live on an ala carte holiday.  That’s my life.  But it isn’t without it’s challenges.

It’s about money yes, but it’s also living an experience.  Experiencing a culture, cuisine, archeology, language, customs, and festivities.

I want more than just the pampered lifestyle, I want to experience a natural.  Well, with some conveniences like running hot and cold water for starters!  Hehehehe.

The All-Inclusive vs. The Ala Carte Holiday

At an all-inclusive I can and did book a tour of Arenal Volcano……the opportunity to climb up the mountain as far as gravity would allow my body and the also lawful boundary (for safety reasons we’re only allowed to climb so far up).  The cost $90.  Not bad, right?

It’s a short drive from the resort with lots of parking available.  Turns out, I could’ve driven there (I had a rental) and walked the trail (there’s 2 trails 1 for beginners and 1 for experienced hikers) at no cost at all.  It’s something you don’t find out about until you do it…..or ask around.  Not many is going to tell you of the freebie.

Over on Cozumel you can take a tour that goes bar hopping for $99!! You still have to pay for your drinks.  I can and do, do that on my own.  But then, I just like to explore.

There’s another tour of the only lighthouse that can be visited by the public on Cozumel for about $80.  I can do it for $25.

Here on the Mayan Riviera there’s Cenotes……crystal clear cool water that is found inland after the collapse of the ground as in ‘sink hole’.  Wonderful experience…..some are found in caves giving a rather unique adventure.  Just visiting them can be done for less than $25 except if you’re doing it thru an all-inclusive resort.

There’s a lot of convenience in an all-inclusive resort with most everything on sight paid for……in advance.  I sort of like that, but my economical mindset steers me away.  Perhaps if I were independently wealthy or at least had another $2,000 or $3,000 dollars coming in each month I’d pamper myself a bit more.

The All-Inclusive vs. The Ala Carte Holiday

Here’s a nice one to explore…..just up the road from where I live

I’ve visited El Dorado…..very nice and very pricey.  I’m paying U.S. prices for adult beverages….here in Puerto Aventuras I pay Mexican pesos…..about a $5 difference for a beer, more of a difference ($7-$10) on fancy eclectic concoctions!  I go for the local peso choice.  At one place near hear I can enjoy a beer….let’s say a Corona (most are familiar with that brand) for less than a dollar and watch dolphins.  I didn’t see any dolphins at El Dorado and I paid $6 for the Corona plus the price of $10 to drive on to the property.  Yep.

Here’s something that you may not have considered with an all-inclusive resort is that you probably won’t use all the services.  And there are some limitations to this all-inclusive package, read the details carefully.

I’m not against all-inclusive…….but, I do like the local stuff that doesn’t come with the all-inclusive.  Like here for instance when you go to a restaurant and you use the restroom……some places have wait staff for the restroom and they portion out the toilet paper to the visitors.  True.  And, you can’t put the toilet paper in the toilet (this is no matter the nature of your business), you put it in the trash can nearby.  You see their plumbing system can’t handle the crap and toilet paper too.  Seriously!!!!

You would miss out on this experience in an all-inclusive.  Shame, huh?  And if you’re really cheap the hotel you may stay in, you’ll have to put your toilet paper in the trash can too.  Don’t break the rule or you won’t have the use of a toilet.  Seriously!!!

The All-Inclusive vs. The Ala Carte Holiday

Okay, enough of that pros and cons.

I generally steer clear of any tourist stops except in Play del Carmen……I’ll visit the Tequila Barrel occasionally or Señor Frogs and on Cozumel Señor Frogs.  I recently saw a Señor Frog’s in Puerto Rico!!  I didn’t expect that.

Souvenirs.  I try to buy my souvenirs away from the tourist sights.  But realize that if you do buy souvenirs at the tourist sights that you may be able to negotiate a better price.  Especially with the smaller shops.  Me, I choose Walmart.  They have souvenirs and that’s where I buy ’em.  Here on the Mayan Riviera there’s another place called Chedraui that is similar to a Walmart but with more food items and souvenirs.  They got the right idea. I can buy shot glasses with logos and designs for under $1.00!!!!!

I’ve only touched the surface of this topic and as you can see, I’m an ala carte sort of guy.

If you’re traveling a lot and you’re budget conscience without the resources, you may be the same.

Peace, love, and beaches,


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