Being a little bit of a beach addict, I can’t help but take off down south as soon as I get the chance. It may sound crazy, but sometimes I actually prefer the liberty of taking an all-inclusive vacation over an adventurous trip elsewhere. You literally lie on a beach all day reading books, and not having a single worry. Don’t get me wrong, a euro-trip is amazing, but there is so much preparation that goes into it, and then so much you want to accomplish during the trip, that it doesn’t feel much like a vacation at all (which isn’t a bad thing either!).
That being said, I’m sure whether you’re students finishing up exams, accountants in the midst of tax season, or just having trouble getting over the extended winter, you or someone you know is considering flying south by the end of the month.
Believe it or not, it still isn’t as simple as clicking a button to book that trip. There’s a lot of factors that can influence your decision, and it takes some serious research to find the island, city, and resort that best fit your needs.
Some questions to keep in mind:
What’s your budget? Whether this question is answered first or last, it’s still one that in most cases can be a deal breaker. Even if your budget is unlimited, that will affect your answer the rest of the questions you might ask yourself while booking a place.
Do you want luxury? Though it may be materialistic on our ends, Corporate Boy and I loooove a luxurious vacation. When we took our euro-trip, we really counted our pennies, making sure we can make the most of every euro we brought. On the other hand, our idea of a good beach vacation consists of feeling at ease at all times – knowing our room is going to be great, the service will be top notch, and that we will feel like we are living at a palace all week.
Are you intending to do an excursion? Believe it or not, that’s something you should be looking into in advance. Some cities just don’t offer the same options as others. The last few vacations, we actually decided on which excursion (budget taken into account) we wanted to do before even leaving Toronto.
Where will you spend most of your time – the beach or the pool? If you’re more of a pool person (and if you are, then we can’t be friends), then you can actually save A LOT of money by finding a resort that doesn’t have a beach at all. If it’s the beach you’re looking for, you may want to look into how far it is from the rooms, whether there are rocks in or around the water, and if there are huts or umbrellas to protect you from the sun. Looking into what kind of entertainment is at either the beach or the pool would help you predict whether you would enjoy spending your time there.
Are you a picky eater? This is a serious question when you are booking a vacation. I may be wrong, but I think it’s safe to say that Cuba is not the place for you if you have a passion for good food. Some resorts offer better variety than others, and that’s something you can look into by reading up on TripAdvisor reviews.
Would you consider paying extra for an adult-only section/resort? I hate to be bitter, but I’m not crazy about kids splishing and splashing around me, or worse, building sandcastles and throwing sand on my face as I tan.
Do you want constant entertainment? Some resorts are just better at it than others. We went to Majestic Colonial in January (review here), and I mean there’s only so much we can do to entertain ourselves when it’s just the two of us. Luckily the entertainment team there is ON POINT, and even on the two rainy days they kept the party going in the lobby with a daytime dance party and games (and of course consistent refills on mimosas from the bartender).
Are you interested in water sports, if yes, which ones? Though this has never actually forced us to change our plans, Dominican Republic doesn’t have jet skis for rent. As far as I know, only Mexico does. Paddle-boating is usually in Cuba where the waters are most calm, and a lot of islands/resorts don’t offer much that is “included”.
Is there free (or paid) wifi at the resort? If you’re hesitating between two resorts that may have $100 price difference, check if the more expensive one maybe has free wifi. Sometimes that is actually what makes the difference in price. Think about it – some resorts charge like $5/hour of internet use. If you pay a hundred dollars more to go to a resort that has you connected all week long, it may be worth it. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t start commenting that “you shouldn’t even be on the internet during your vacation.” Unfortunately, some people don’t have the privilege to completely disconnect, especially if they are self-employed or run a business. On top of that, I know my mom loves it when I keep in touch and FaceTime her from the beach, so having resort-wide free wifi is a major plus for Mama.
Do you simply just want to get in touch with nature and the ocean? Some people don’t need the glitz and glam, couldn’t care less if they ate dirt all week and didn’t see the light of an a/c system, and just want to lie by the ocean and climb waterfalls all week.
I hope I covered everything, and it will help you make a more informed and well-researched decision for your next beach getaway. And let me tell you, once you find a place that you love and find perfect – stay loyal and never look back.
Are there other factors that influence your decision that aren’t listed here? What are they?