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What’s Your Holiday Style? ❀ All-Inclusive ❀ Hotels & Restaurants ❀ Self-Catered ❀

Self-Catering/DIY - Explore, TravelBloggers.ca

Iain is always quick to tell people that his Polish-Ukrainian wife is far more Scottish than he is … and yes, I’ll admit it … I’m frugal!

With that, I can tell you that only ONCE in our 21 married years have we ever gone on an all-inclusive vacation … and it was probably our least favorite (for more reasons than one, but we won’t get into that). I’m not sure if that really tells you anything, other than maybe I’d rather not sit still and be waited on?  Though I’m sure Iain would disagree with that statement, but let’s not argue the details, let’s just talk about the options!Mont Tremblant, Hotel & Restaurant, TravelBloggers.caThough we don’t have a gaggle of kids in tow when we travel we still tend to vacation on a budget, or even a shoe string where possible. For some reason we can’t get our heads wrapped around spending more money to stay ONE week in a hotel than we would for our monthly housing expenses at home. Call us crazy (we’re okay with that), but that’s just who we are.

If you’ve never considered a self-catered holiday, you really should … It’s a great option for saving money! Sure you may have to make a few meals and tidy up after yourself, but the plus-side (besides saving money) is that you have more freedom and privacy and you can keep your own schedule, not that of house-keeping or the breakfast buffet!

Basically you have three options: The all-inclusive, hotels and restaurants, or self-catering … or maybe more aptly they should be considered the kick back and relax, mini-adventurer or explorer options. But which is best?

Well there are as many answers to that question as there are travellers in this world, but here are a few things to consider.

All-Inclusive – Relax!
If you’re travelling to a country where you think you’ll feel less than safe off-resort, or if you just want to relax by the water, this option is probably for you! This is also one of the “easiest” vacation options, as the toughest decision you’ll probably have all day is what to wear to dinner or which pool to lounge by today!Florida Keys, TravelBloggers.caBut are these “all-inclusives” REALLY ALL inclusive? Always read the fine print, consider some of the following, and always, ALWAYS ask “are there any hidden fees I should know about?”

  • Are ALL beverages included – alcoholic and non-alcoholic?
  • If you’re not a big eater or drinker, will you get the value out of an all-inclusive?
  • Is premium dining included or just the basic buffet?
  • Can you resort hop for meals?
  • What about gratuities?
  • If you’re renting a car, is parking included (it’s usually not and can run $20-$30 a day)?
  • What about the cost of some resort activities like tennis, snorkelling, kayaks, paddle boats, etc.?
  • Some places even charge for a palapa/umbrellas/shaded seating on the beach and use of the pool!
  • All-inclusive resorts by their very nature are usually quite a distance from towns and cities (and airports).

Hotels & Restaurants – Mini-Adventurer
If you’re planning on venturing out a little to see the sights and you’re wanting to experience a little more of the authentic local flavour, this might be the way to go.Hotels & Restaurants, TravelBloggers.caThis option doesn’t lock you into eating at your own resort every night, and you’ll be more likely to get out and see the sights.Hotels & Restaurants, TravelBloggers.caWith the Hotel & Restaurant option you’ll have to think about these things too…

  • Check around for hotels that offer breakfast buffets or at least a continental breakfast.
  • Consider picking up drinks and snacks at the local grocery store before venturing out – you can save a small fortune on bottled water alone if you carry it with you rather than having to buy it at the attractions where they have you on the spot!  Think about taking an insulated sleeve for your drinks or a small collapsible cooler bag.
  • Are you prepared to dine out every night, how expensive will the restaurants be?
  • Will I rent a car, hail a cab or take the bus? Sometimes car rentals work out far cheaper and get you to your destination on YOUR schedule, not to mention the freedom to explore and stop where ever you like… but some folks prefer public transportation to get a real taste of their destination.
  • If you’re renting a car, is parking included at your hotel (it’s usually not and can run $20-$30 a day)?
  • What about booking blind?  Websites like Hotwire.com and Priceline.com offer considerable savings on accommodations, but you have to be willing to take what you get! Are you feeling lucky? Will you roll the dice and let budget decide where you lay your head at night?

Self-Catering / DIY – Explore!
Going the DIY route means that YOU are in charge of your own destiny! Sure, there’s a little more pressure on the planning side, but we’ve always found the home away from home options are extremely enjoyable! Look beyond the hotel… look for condos, apartments, cottages and chalets on sites like flipkey.com, homeaway.com and vacationhomerentals.com. I’m no prima donna, so I’m not afraid to do a little cooking and light cleaning while I’m on vacation – but I do look out for accommodations that have a dishwasher! For me, vacations mean sleeping in late if I want to, so I LOVE the FREEDOM of not having to worry about whether the maid is going to come through the door when I’m standing there in my underwear.Self-Catering/DIY - Explore, TravelBloggers.caHome-away vacations are not for lazy, there’s a lot to consider, and the options are pretty much endless!  A few things to consider when thinking about this option…

  • If you plan on being your own chef even a few days during your vacation, where is the local grocery store? Do they carry everything I need, or will I have to visit a few shops? What are the prices like?
  • Look for rentals that offer free breakfasts … they’re rare, but some apartments that cater to vacationers do provide your morning meal and sometimes even coffee and tea in the lobby.
  • Be mindful – some home-away rentals do NOT provide linens, or they may charge for them.
  • Read the fine print and consider damage deposits and fees for cleaning during or after your stay. Ask the question “are there any hidden fees I should know about?”
  • Because these types of rentals are often “homes” to their owners at least part of the year, sometimes you can luck out and have extra amenities included like access to a home gym, pool table, ping-pong, X-box, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, etc. Be sure to consider things like this when deciding which rental to book.
  • BYOBSelf-catering can mean huge savings on alcoholic beverages, and you decide whether you consume the cheapest hooch or the premium stuff! Some also tend to over-indulge at the all-inclusives, just to get their money’s worth … but is it worth it in the end when you’ve gained an extra 10lbs by consuming your calories from a glass?
  • Will I rent a car, hail a cab or take the bus? Sometimes car rentals work out far cheaper and get you to your destination on YOUR schedule, not to mention the freedom to explore and stop where ever you like… but some folks prefer public transportation to get a real taste of their destination.
  • If you’re renting a car, is parking included with your accommodations (sometimes it’s not and can run $20-$30 a day)?
  • Consider picking up drinks and snacks at the local grocery store before venturing out – you can save a small fortune on bottled water alone if you carry it with you rather than having to buy it at the attractions where they have you on the spot!  Think about taking an insulated sleeve for your drinks or a small collapsible cooler bag.Hotels & Restaurants, TravelBloggers.ca

So in the end, when you add up all the costs, remember…a DIY vacation may take a bit more planning but the benefits of off-resort vacationing could out-weigh the extra leg-work and leave you with a lot more money in your pockets!

NOTE:  We do not recommend DIY/Self-Catered vacations for all destinations. Always be mindful of your destination, consider crime rates and the safety of your family/fellow travellers.

About TravelBloggers.ca
Iain Shankland & Gail Shankland started blogging in order to inspire and motive people to travel the world from their perspective – specializing in having the most fun while using the least amount of money, travelling on the cheap without sacrificing comfort.

Copyright © 2013 Iain & Gail Shankland / TravelBloggers.ca (at)Gmail.com
This original, copyrighted material may NOT be copied, used in whole or in part in any way, cut and pasted, published or otherwise reproduced in any form or in any medium – which means DO NOT post this on another website or BBS. If you want somebody else to see this, please send them a link or post a link to this page.

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6 Comments

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