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All inclusive versus self catering - do you save money?

27th March 2012 Print

Spring has finally sprung, and as the sunshine begins to creep through our windows, and as once more papers scream about UK temperatures soaring higher than the Med, your thoughts are probably turning to your summer holiday. Of course, with the recent financial troubles putting the pinch on all our purses, we all have to be a little more careful with our money.

The great thing is, with the huge range of all inclusive holidays and package deals now available for destinations across the globe, this current financial climate doesn’t have to affect your holiday choices. When it comes to holidaying on a budget, there are two savings winners, all inclusive trips and self-catered holidays – both cutting the huge costs of dining out abroad and help you organise your budget for a better holiday overall. The question is, which one is cheaper? To answer that question, let’s look at costs both home and abroad (what you’re spending when you book, and then expenditure when you’re actually away on holiday).

On the face of it, when it comes to booking your trip, you’re obviously going to have to put down more money in advance if you’re going all inclusive than if you’re going self-catered, because you’re paying for everything up front. This could be a problem if you don’t have the cash to pay the lump sum and are planning to save until the last minute, but actually paying up front has significant benefits.

Firstly, it allows you to plan, and therefore budget your holiday in advance, making it much easier to keep within your limits. You might set yourself a budget for a self-catered holiday, but you’re always at the mercy of the prices once you’re away. Secondly, by their very nature all inclusive holidays should offer cheaper prices on food than self-catering, because it’s cheaper to cook for 40 people than it is for an average family of four. So even if you’re paying out more money in advance, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re spending more money overall.

Once you’re away of course, the benefits of investing in cheap all inclusive holidays become clear. With the right deal, and a willingness to spend your holiday in resort, you can actually go on holiday without any cash at all – everything’s been paid for.

The reality for many of us of course is that we’ll want to eat and drink out occasionally, which will affect the value of the deal. But while self-catered holidaymakers perhaps can guarantee themselves increased variety and control once away, this still leaves them at risk of inflated prices, so it’s largely a decision based on choice rather than budget. If you’re happy with what all inclusive means, it seems to be a cheaper option.

Moreover, when it comes to facilities and activities beyond food and drink, all inclusive packages can offer better value. Many all inclusive resorts are attached to some of the best holiday facilities – pools, tennis courts, golf courses – and the most beautiful beaches in the world. What’s more, they’re cleaned and managed by the resort and come included in your package. Holiday-makers on self-catered trips will have to pay rates by the day or even the hour to use these facilities, which are often the best in the area.

In the end, there’s do doubting that self-catering can be a cheap way to go, but it’s all about self-control, and costs can quickly add up. All inclusive deals enable you to keep that control with no hidden costs, guaranteeing a great holiday at much cheaper prices.