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VOL. 127 | NO. 82 | Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dana and Ray Brandon

All-Inclusive Trips Help You Relax

By Ray and Dana Brandon

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Ray’s Take We recently returned from a family vacation at an all-inclusive resort. It’s the fourth time we’ve done for many good reasons. As the person whose wallet usually gets the biggest workout on family trips – opening it up repeatedly for meals, snacks, beverages, activities, and more – I really appreciate the value of an all-inclusive resort, but there other advantages, as well.

An all-inclusive folds in all the charges I mentioned, plus many more, including your room as well as tips and typical hotel services. You pay one flat fee per person and that’s it for everything. If my kids want afternoon ice cream, it’s covered. If my wife and I want a cocktail with our sunset, it’s included. If everyone wants to snorkel along the beach, our equipment rental and parking fee are included.

Plus, from the paying dad’s perspective, not having to keep track of receipts and scanning every meal check for accuracy is a real advantage. If my kids order something new and don’t like it, they just order something else. Even with the “convenience” of being able to charge everything to your room, it’s nice to not have to calculate a tip with every meal. I really love the fact that once we arrive, I can pop my wallet into the room safe for the duration rather than figuring out what to do with it while swimming in the ocean or sailing.

It’s not just that these resorts can represent a good value – particularly for families with active children – you also know exactly what you’re spending and there are no shocking surprises when you check out.

Best of all, when we’re at an all-inclusive resort, I don’t have to think about the budget when everyone wants to splurge on a sunset sail. It’s all included, and when you’re on vacation, that’s priceless.

Dana’s Take While most costs are covered by the daily fee at all-inclusive resorts, some things aren’t. These costs can change from resort to resort, so it’s a good idea to look into exactly what is offered and what is an extra expense.

Family and beach resorts usually don’t include the cost of any spa treatments. They also might charge extra for off-property excursions, the use of motorized water sports vehicles, or premium wine and spirits. However, it’s easy enough to avoid spending on these items.

This is different from most cruise lines, where even a soft drink can mean an additional charge and tips are automatically added to your bill on a per-person, per-night basis. These expenses sound small, but they can really add up.

We’ve found that taking the family to all-inclusive resorts gives us the freedom to do what we want without thinking twice about the cost – we’ve already budgeted for it through that one daily fee. A vacation from financial stress enhances any trip.

Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at raybrandon@brandonplanning.com.

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