All inclusive vs self catering

The big debate
When booking a summer vacation you have a myriad of decisions to make – when do you go? Where do you go? Which resort do you whittle it down to? How long do you go for? And probably one of the toughest decisions of them all is, which board basis do you choose?

There are of course several board basis options out there, namely self catering (no meals provided), half board (provides breakfast and evening meal in accommodation pricing), full board (breakfast, lunch and evening meals provided in accommodation pricing), bed and breakfast, and all inclusive (all meals and drinks included in accommodation pricing), and each one has pros and cons to its name. How do you choose?

Well, it obviously comes down to price firstly, but even that has a debate attached to it as our Singapore Travel Blog shall break it down to you.

Let’s look at the two extremes of board basis, because this is where you could save precious dollars on your summer holiday this year.

Self catering

Okay, so self catering holidays are cheaper at the booking stage, because you’re basically just paying for a room or an apartment, and most of the time you’re getting an apartment with cooking facilities. This of course gives you scope to cook whilst you’re there, as well as a fridge to put drinks in, which cuts down on cost if you can fill up empty bottles to take out with you etc. The downside of this is that you:

a) have to cook yourself or go out for all your meals, and
b) it will cost you more once you’re in resort, because you have to feed yourself. As you can see, self catering is cheaper at booking stage, but more expensive at vacation stage!

Now, we personally like self catering for the freedom it gives us whilst we’re away. I enjoy being able to explore the resort and find restaurants to enjoy different kinds of local food, and whilst I do have the option of cooking, I don’t often go for it because, well, I’m on vacation! It is possible to stock up on breakfast items and juice at the local supermarket and have a meal before you go out for the day, which means you’ll spend less at lunch, however it is a totally personal choice, and for me that’s what self catering represents – freedom.

All inclusive

On the other hand, at the totally other side of the spectrum, you have all inclusive, which is pretty much what it says on the tin – everything is included. Food, drinks, all paid for when you book your vacation. This means that your vacation will cost more at the booking stage, but you will spend considerably less whilst you’re away, in fact unless you decide to head out for a meal at a restaurant one night for a change, you’ll only really need to spend money for shopping and trips. The other perk is that you can often spread the cost of your vacation if you book it early enough, with the balance due in full a few weeks before you depart. It’s really a case of how much spare cash you have available to book your vacation at the time.

All inclusive has many upsides, and it has many downsides. If you’re traveling with children then all inclusive is undoubtedly the cheapest way, because you don’t have to buy endless soft drinks and snacks whilst you’re there – they’re already paid for! Families could find that all inclusive really does save them precious cash and effort of coaxing their little ones out of the hotel to find food.

On the other hand, all inclusive has the danger of you becoming stuck within the walls of your hotel. Whilst an all inclusive hotel will probably have endless activities and facilities on site, you do need to get out and explore what your resort has to offer, and if you have everything you need on tap, you’re less likely to do this, meaning you often miss out.

End day, it’s really a personal choice, and it’s often one that comes down to money & the needs of your family/travel companions. Alternatively, if you are booking your hotels through our Hotel deals page, you can always read the reviews of what most people do/do not. And when you’ve experienced it, let us know how it goes!


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