Tips for Family All-Inclusive Resort Vacations

Planning Tips

  • Consider travel insurance.  You should have received a quote after booking, but contact me if this slipped your mind.
  • Check your cell phone provider’s international coverage, including if you will incur any fees for data roaming, calls, or texts.  
  • Have a plan for transportation from the airport.  Some packages include transfers, others do not. Arriving to a new country and dealing with (sometimes) aggressive taxi drivers is not a relaxing start to a vacation! Contact me if you need to arrange transfers.
  • If you are traveling with your partner, talk ahead of time about what your expectations for the vacation are.  Do you hope to keep the kids on similar schedule to home? Will naps by the pool suffice or do you plan to take a midday break for naps in the room?  Will the kids go to the kids club? Do you hope to get a babysitter? Do you want to eat at the more upscale a la carte restaurants or have easy dinners at the buffet?  The answers to these questions will likely be fluid as you get into your vacation, but it is helpful to have a starting point.
  • If you are traveling with friends, talking about the above questions with them is also a good idea.  Additionally, it would be good to talk about how much group time everyone is expecting. All day every day? Just pool/beach time? Some meals?  If this is at least discussed before the trip, there is much less likelihood of feelings being hurt.

At the Resort Tips

  • Beach/Pool
    • Depending on the resort and level of service, you may need to get moving in the morning to snag lounge chairs in an ideal location by the pool or front line of the beach. Note that it is against most resorts’ policies to reserve chairs without using them.  
    • Put sunscreen more often than you think you need to.  The sun in the tropics is stronger than in most of the States.
    • Be sure to provide the little ones with plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Food
    • Book any a la carte restaurants on arrival.  There are limited slots, and if you wait until your 2nd or 3rd day, you may miss out.
    • If your resort allows it, grab a piece of fruit or two and some yogurt at breakfast and/or lunch to keep in the room for snacks.  
  • Room
    • If you have a standard hotel room and need to put a little one down to sleep for a nap or for the night, consider sitting on the balcony or “hiding” in the bathroom as they are going to sleep.  It may sound silly, but if your little one is used to you being out of sight as they go to sleep, keeping the conditions similar to home will accelerate the sleeping process.
  • Kids Club/Babysitters
    • At check in, get a copy of the schedule for the kids club.  Often, there are activities for the family to do together as well as “drop-off” hours.
    • If you plan to use a babysitter, arrange this on the day of check in.  
    • If you anticipate your child may be resistant to kids club, but it’s important for you to have some time without him/her, consider providing a small “surprise” after each visit.  For example, I’ve purchased small Playmobil sets that I break up and give my son one after each visit to kids club. A few days in, he’s begging to go to kids club.

Packing Tips

  • Toiletries
    • Bandaids and neosporin
    • Age-appropriate cough/cold medicine
    • Infant/child acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • Immodium or Pepto Bismol or similar
    • Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen
    • Mosquito repellent (I like the Cutters Family Wipes available on Amazon)
  • Supplies for Beach & Pool
    • Sun hat
    • A bag for toting things from the room to the beach/pool
    • Your choice of beach/pool floaties and toys: inflatable ring or puddle jumper, floating bath toys, bath books, balls (inflatable), sinky toys, sand shovel & bucket, goggles, water shooters
    • You do not need beach towels.
  • Other useful items
    • $1 bills and a few $5s  for tipping as you feel appropriate (tipping is not required and is sometimes already included, so this is a personal preference)
    • An insulated cup (such as a Yeti) for keeping drinks cool by the pool
    • Ziploc bags of varying sizes for any number of uses
    • A few easy to pack toys and books for down time in the room
    • Snacks for having in your room
    • Sound machine and/or nightlight
    • Baby monitor (check
    • Dish soap for washing bottles, cups, etc.
    • Adapter if needed (Mexico, the Dominican Republic and much of the Caribbean are on the same voltage system as the US)
  • Clothing notes
    • 2 swimsuits per person (this allows for one to dry while you wear the other)
    • You will need less daywear than you think, especially if you just plan to be by the pool and beach.  You often only wear your day clothes a few hours each day. If you are OK with repeating clothes, there is no need to bring more than 5 days worth of day clothes.  Babies and toddlers go through more clothes; for them I’d still pack more than one day outfit a day.
    • Most resorts require long pants, a shirt with buttons (polos are OK), and closed-toe shoes for men at dinner.  For women, it’s usually more flexible, but beach flip flops and cut offs will not meet the requirement. Depending on the age of the child, these rules may be enforced as well.

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