Self-Catering vs All-Inclusive Vacation – Which is a Better Option?

By Lloyd C | Updated January 15th, 2015

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I’m going to be controversial, but I feel it needs to be done. I am not a fan of all-inclusive holidays. I have cabin fever and it is why I prefer self-catering over all-inclusive. Now, before you shout in protest, I have been on a few all-inclusive. So, my opinion is based on my experience. I’ve done self-catering, I’ve done B&B, and I’ve done all-inclusive. I have to say that I am firmly in the camp of self-catering.

catered food

Self-Catering vs All-Inclusive Vacations

Yes, you have the argument that all-inclusive totally takes away the worry of how much you’re going to spend on food and drink whilst you’re away. But you can easily cut costs with self-catering, and get plenty of advantages to go along with it. For example, if you’re clever with how you get to the airport for your flight, and cut out the need for expensive public transport, by booking airport parking in advance, then you’re onto a winner before you even start.

You could even fly from a London airport and take advantage of lower airfares, booking Gatwick North terminal parking for example, and driving yourself down there too. This is something I’ve done before and as long as the combined travel still comes to less than a flight regionally, I don’t see the problem.

The one downside that self-catering has is that you’re either going to have to cook for yourself or find somewhere to eat every night. However, you can easily turn that into a positive. For instance, cooking for yourself saves money, making it possible to eat in and then go out for a few drinks later. So, you don’t have to find somewhere to dine.

On the flip side of that, exploring the resort you’re visiting, and then finding a different restaurant every night means you’re actually experiencing the place you’re visiting. You get to try some of the local cuisines to boot, which is basically what travel is all about!

all inclusive drinks
Why No to All-Inclusive

I find that all-inclusive comes with a huge danger attached, and that is you don’t tend to leave the hotel grounds much. Simply, because everything you need is already there, so you don’t have to go out and about.

This is a sad state of affairs because you might as well have just stayed at home! New resorts and destinations are there to be explored. If you travel all that way and only see the inside of your hotel, you’re missing out.

I can’t deny that for families, an all-inclusive break is the best choice. It provides fun trips to get out and about. There are pros and cons as explored in this debate on the topic but for me, it’s a self-catering exploration all the way.