All inclusive resort hacks: This all inclusive hotel guide explains how it's possible to combine a backpacking trip with an all inclusive holiday to save money.
Our travel style is a bit controversial: we like backpacking but we also like all inclusive resorts so we started to combine them. This gives us both an authentic travel experience and the possibility to enjoy all inclusive luxury while staying on a budget.
Around backpackers, there is a certain stigma around all inclusive resorts. The old travellers vs tourists debate. 1/3 of our Instagram followers said they have never been to an all inclusive hotel. Half of our community that had previously been to an all inclusive resort, didn't like it.
Here’s why we like it: Our first part of the trip is very low-budget. We sleep in guest houses, use public transport and eat at local restaurants. We save money to splurge and relax at the end. We love the peace of mind only an all inclusive experience can give you. And we enjoy it most knowing that we have already explored the country and had a more authentic experience away from the all inclusive resort bubble.
By the way, it's incredibly funny to rock up to a fancy resort with your backpacks. When we arrived at our resort in Mexico by public bus we were asked several times if we really have a reservation 😅
Like with regular hotels, there is a wide variety of all inclusive resorts. There are family-friendly and adults only all inclusive resorts, resorts with a younger or an older crowd, resorts geared more towards relaxation or party, resorts with more or less animation and so on. Do your research and read some comments to get a feel for the place you chose.
The rest is pretty much the same as for your regular vacation.
We recommend staying at least two full days. Take your time on the first day and explore the different bars and restaurants, the pools and the beach. Find out if there are any included activities like sports classes or cooking classes. Afterwards, you want to have enough time to take advantage of included activities and amenities. After all, you don’t want to leave before the relaxation kicked in, do you?
Included food and drinks: Oftentimes, the buffet restaurants are included but the a la carte restaurants are not (or only for a limited amount of visits). Additionally, there can be high-end drinks like branded alcohol which is rarely included.
Included activities: Most resorts include the gym and unmotorized sports in their rates. Other activities like scuba diving or boat tours cost extra. Additionally, the spa area can be free of use but treatments mostly cost extra.
Check the hotel description and don’t assume that everything is included!
Surprisingly, depending on your travel style and the country you travel in, all inclusive can be cheaper than backpacking – with all you can eat food and drinks already included! Here’s an example from our recent trip to Cyprus:
All inclusive hotel: 60€ per Person and night
Backpacking: 72,50€ per Person and night
Akumal Bay - Beach & Wellness Resort, Akumal, Mexico
We just loved the white sandy beach, the infinity pools (plural!), the Bali beds, and the turtles right in front of the hotel. Every room has its own private hot tub which seems out of reach for the regular backpacker like us. The drinks were out of this world – think flaming coffee, cocktails coloured like the Mexican flag or tequila tastings.
Labranda Royal Makadi, Makadi Bay, Egypt
Our favourite budget-friendly hotel in Egypt. The reef right in front of the hotel is in good condition. You can enjoy stone oven pizza right on the beach. The Labranda promenade offers a greater culinary variety than I have ever seen. You can choose between a Greek taverna, a burger bar, an ice cream parlour, a Bedouin tent, sushi, teppanyaki, Cuban, and many more – just make sure it’s included in your package!
Leonardo Plaza Cypria Maris Beach Hotel & Spa, Paphos, Cyprus
This super budget-friendly resort is adults only. It is geared towards a younger crowd. There is sparse animation and light music as well as a nightclub. Most drinks are included but special cocktails and branded spirits are not. For a small additional charge, you can visit the a la carte restaurants.
Yes, most of our all inclusive pictures feature food and drinks, because that's what we're there for 😉
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. You would help us a lot if you do so. Thanks.