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Holidays: All-inclusive versus self-catering
If you’re planning your main 2013 holiday, the chances are you’ll be looking for the best value break for your money. And a common dilemma for holidaymakers looking for the most cost-effective holiday is which board type to go for.
Some holidaymakers religiously travel on a self-catering basis in order to keep their costs to a minimum while others are all-inclusive converts – but which will actually work out cheaper for you?
Here we take a look at the pros and cons of each holiday type to help you decide…
The pros of self-catering holidays
According to research by TravelSupermarket, 29% of British holidaymakers plan to travel on a self-catering basis for their main 2013 holiday. In 2012 the figures were similar, with 32% of Brits opting for this board type. But what makes these holidays so popular with savvy spenders?
You can control your food and drink costs
Whether you want to keep healthy snacks in the cupboard for the kids, or like to have a glass of wine or two with your evening meal, travelling on a self-catering basis will allow you to buy all of your items for less in local shops, markets or supermarkets – so you can enjoy guilt-free treats. Travelling on this basis is also a great choice if someone in your group has a special dietary requirement.
You’re not restricted by a timetable
Want to eat breakfast at midday? No problem. Or perhaps the kids like to eat their main meal at 5pm but you prefer to wait until they are in bed. Self-catering accommodation offers you the flexibility to come and go as you please and to set your own holiday timetable.
This flexibility can also help you to budget as you can choose to nip back to your holiday home for lunch after a morning of exploring or make a packed lunch before you set off.
Family and friends can stay together – and keep expenses down
If you’re travelling in a large group, there are plenty of accommodation options on a self-catering basis that will allow you to all stay together and split the costs of everything from accommodation to food, drink and other holiday essentials. And, if you are in a larger group, you can all put money into a holiday kitty and take it in turns to cook and do the food shopping. Villa and cottage holidays are good options here.
You’ll have the freedom to explore in your own style
Staying self-catering often makes travellers more adventurous in getting to know their new surroundings as you don’t feel obliged to take part in activities as you might in large hotel complexes. Plus, as you control your food budget, you can make the decision about whether to eat in or out as you please.
Some cons to think about
How good are you at budgeting?
While self-catering can work out as a cost-effective option, be honest with yourself when you choose this board type in an effort to save money. If you know you’ll never use your apartment’s kitchen because eating out is too tempting, or that having to budget for trips to the supermarket will bring you out in a cold sweat, self-catering probably isn’t for you.
Is your destination suitable for a self-catering break?
While certain destinations such as France, Spain and Portugal are well set up for self-catering holidaymakers, other such as Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Tunisia, Morocco and Cuba aren’t, meaning you will struggle to find a good range of inexpensive food to stock your fridge. So research your destination before you choose this option as your good intentions may actually result in your trip costing far more in both money and energy.
Find out what’s in your accommodation
Before you book your accommodation, check it has all of the appliances and equipment you want. For example, some basic apartments may not have an oven, meaning you may not be able to cook everything you want.
The pros of all-inclusive holidays
All-inclusive holidays are becoming increasingly popular with Brits and, according to research by TravelSupermarket, more than one in 10 British holidaymakers (11%) will go away on this basis for their main holiday in 2013. So why do these types of holiday appeal to money-conscious travellers?
You can budget before you even board the plane
As all-inclusive holidays tend to include everything from your flights and accommodation to food, drink and entertainment, you can work out what the bulk of your holiday will cost, and budget and pay for it, before you even get to the airport. All you’ll need to think about is spending money for any extras – such as excursions, souvenirs and money to spend at the airport.
You don’t need to worry about the little extras
It’s amazing how an ice cream here and a can of pop there can soon add up when you’re away for a week or two. But, if you’re on an all-inclusive holiday where snacks and drinks are included, you can treat yourself without worrying about the pennies. This can be particularly appreciated by parents as children won’t be nagging for expensive snacks.
You won’t have to carry lots of currency around with you
Within your hotel you probably won’t need any cash – unless you’d like to tip your waiter or upgrade to an expensive bottle of wine – so travelling all-inclusive is great for those who only want to take minimal amounts of cash away with them.
Destinations you may never have considered may now be in your budget
If you shop around, it can be possible to visit exotic destinations such as Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic for less than £1,000 per person on an all-inclusive basis.
Some cons to think about
Check what’s included before you book
While many hotels offer brilliant all-inclusive packages which include everything you need, some have limitations which may catch you out if you haven’t budgeted for them. So, before you book, find out exactly what your accommodation is offering, looking out for items you class as an essential such as bottled water, wine, branded soft drinks, snacks and activities. And, be aware that your meals may be served buffet style.
Is all-inclusive really for you?
Whether you love to eat out in local restaurants to get a taste of traditional flavours or don’t like to spend much time in your resort when you are away, think carefully about whether an all-inclusive break would suit your needs. If you think you’d end up eating out more than once or twice or plan to spend your holiday exploring your destination top to bottom, this type of break probably isn’t for you – as you’ll effectively end up paying for everything twice.
Is your accommodation suited to you?
Holidays can be a great time for you and the kids to meet groups of like-minded people, so if this is important to you, spend some time researching your choice of accommodation before you book. Read everything from descriptions on the hotel’s website, travel agent synopses and customer feedback on user review sites to get a clearer idea on what the hotel will be like. And, while you are doing this, look out for any other factors that are important to you such as how varied the food is and how good the night-time entertainment is.
How to decide
Now you’ve read through the pros and cons of both accommodation types, you’ve probably got a clearer idea on which type of holiday is for you. But, if not, a good way to decide based on budget is to compare the price of each holiday type and then add a realistic daily cost for food, drink and transport to your self-catering option. If this still works out cheaper than all-inclusive, you know you’ve found a deal.
And, don’t forget to factor location into your choice. For example, will you feel stuck in an all-inclusive hotel miles away from the action of the main resort? Or perhaps you’ll end up resenting the rural villa you’ve set your heart on as petrol and public transport costs will eat into your budget?
Do you only travel all-inclusive or is self-catering always your preference? Leave a comment below and let us know.