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Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

All-Inclusive Family Travel:
Caribbean Style

Danielle Hamill

One of the main concerns families face when traveling is cost. Transportation, room and board, food, activities, and various extras can add up quickly. This is especially true for families with multiple children, and why choosing to take your vacation in a place that offers all-inclusive packages can be ideal. So, what does all-inclusive mean? Exactly what it sounds like: packages include everything you typically need to enjoy a great vacation for one up-front price. The draw towards paying one flat rate for an entire vacation is a strong one, and more than half of all American's consider such an option when planning their family vacations. All-inclusive packages are especially popular in the Caribbean (a grouping of 27 islands in the Caribbean Sea including Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas; south of the state of Florida), where the majority of cruise ships sail to, and where the all-inclusive resort came into being.


Cruising the Caribbean is a popular vacation choice, especially between the months of June and August when school is out for the summer. The basic idea of a cruise is that travelers will board the ship, and enjoy accommodations, food, activities, and entertainment as the ship sails from port to port, where the traveler then has the option of staying on board or exploring the country in which they are docked. This is a great way to visit several different countries for a short period of time, at a significantly lower price than it would cost to take an airplane from place to place. A family of four will spend anywhere between $4,000 and $8,000 for a week long trip, depending on the cruise line, the destination, and the amenities you choose.

While not every cruise line is right for family travel, there are many that cater to families, such as Carnival, Disney, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. These ships come equipped with game rooms, craft centers, kiddie pools, and toddler play areas for the youngest set, plus dance clubs, computer rooms, and activities for the pre-teens and teens. Another great bonus is the extensive kid's menus the dining halls offer, as well as a staff knowledgeable in dealing with children. There are also plenty of activities families can enjoy together; but the best part for parents may be that on top of all the things to keep kids entertained, there is just as much for adults to do while their brood is otherwise occupied.

Remember that all though you can pay up front for your cruise and be done handling money for the duration of your trip, there are some extras you may want to include in your budget. Some specialty restaurants, casinos, on-shore excursions hosted by knowledgeable staff members, laundry, and alcoholic beverages are just a few to consider.


The same idea that made cruising popular spawned the all-inclusive resort. People like all-inclusive resorts for several reasons, but the most common is the billing procedure. Guests receive one simple bill up-front for nearly everything they could want to eat, drink or do during their stay. Most all-inclusives are priced with several room options, restaurants, top-shelf liquors, entertainment, and sports already included. On average, a family of four will spend $6,500 including air fare for a week-long vacation at an all-inclusive resort. Travelers should be warned that there are some things on each resort's property not included in the all-inclusive price. These items include spa treatments, some alcoholic beverages, area tours, laundry, baby-sitting, and casino gambling.

Many resorts do, however, offer other extras to keep their visitors happy. Of particular note are the kids clubs that many resorts now include in their price. The kids clubs provide several hours of childcare each day, so that parents can have some adult time, while the kids are enjoying arts and crafts, games, and island adventures of their own. All-inclusives also generally provide airport transfers, which can save some travelers a hefty sum just in bus or cab fare, and a few even include air-fare in their packages. They also offer plenty of pre-planned activities and on-site nightlife. As a rule, all-inclusives tend to be more affordable than a stay at regularly priced hotel.

Keep in mind that not every all-inclusive resort is geared towards families. Some promote quiet, romantic atmospheres, while others draw a rowdy singles crowd. A few all-inclusive resort chains that offer family-friendly environments include Club Med, Beaches, Dreams, and Breezes.

For some, the freedom from budgetary concerns helps coax relaxation. After all, tropical vacationers are often interested in leaving their cares and worries back home while they soak up the sun on Caribbean beaches, and budgeting for a trip can be stressful. This is why choosing an all-inclusive option, such as a cruise or a stay at an all-inclusive resort may benefit you when planning your next family vacation.

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