How to Plan the Best Kid-Friendly All-Inclusive Vacation
Are you wondering where and how to start planning a kid-friendly all-inclusive vacation?
If you’ve gone to an all-inclusive resort before, you know the drill: airplane ride, customs, resort shuttle, welcome drink at the resort, followed by hours of unlimited fun!
What can be better than activities and relaxation with sunshine and prepaid unlimited food and drinks? …All without having to constantly tally the cost of your family vacation!
Whether you are looking for inspiration or practical information on how to plan a kid-friendly all-inclusive family vacation, here is your ultimate guide!
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Kid-friendly All-Inclusive Vacation: 6 months in advance
1. Start the Planning Process
Every fun and successful kid-friendly family all-inclusive vacation requires a fair amount of planning.
Start by considering various vacation options and envision what will and will not work for your family.
What works for some, doesn’t necessarily work for others.
Ask yourself, and perhaps your family members, “What things make you most happy on a family vacation?”
What activities do you want to do on vacation?
What type of resort should we stay at?
An adequate planning process will help guarantee that you will not miss anything that you want to see or do.
Likewise, it minimizes the risk of annoyances that come from expectations not being met.
Lastly, consider who you want to be a part of your travel party!
If you’d rather not travel with friends or another couple, consider a multi-generational all-inclusive vacation that provides excellent bonding time with grandma and grandpa.
Additional planning tip: Because of the comprehensive cost, taking your entire family on an all-inclusive vacation is a big investment.
This is one of the many reasons to consult a travel agent when booking an extended all-inclusive vacation.
Travel agents can help narrow down your choices based on your preferences and help you stick within a set budget. They can also manage all of the fine details required throughout your booking, arrival, and return home.
2. Consider the Implications of Traveling Internationally
A beachy kid-friendly all-inclusive destination will typically find you traveling outside of your home country, especially if you’re from the United States.
I recommend considering if the extra steps required when traveling internationally are worth it for you and your family.
Here’s what you should know:
- Paying for and obtaining passports are extra steps that are not needed when traveling within your own country.
- Many times, traveling internationally requires longer flight times and long days of travel both there and back.
- Going through customs at the airport is another extra step required for international travel. This can involve waiting in long lines.
- There are potential language barriers and safety considerations to prepare for when traveling internationally with kids.
- The differences in local transportation and cuisine may not be something that your family can comfortably adjust to.
- Foreign countries can be home to foreign illnesses and diseases that may not be on your radar. Be sure to follow all practices for how to keep your family healthy while traveling and check into any required immunizations.
For us, the extra steps and extended travel time are well worth the enjoyment that comes from both traveling to a kid-friendly all-inclusive resort and traveling out of our home country.
Some of our most memorable family vacations have involved updating our passports, experiencing a different culture, and paying the up-front cost (and nothing else) when going the all-inclusive route.
Additional planning tip: Read here for our Ultimate Guide on Successful International Travel With Kids.
3. Choose A Resort
Which resort you choose will come down to five main factors: location, beach, food, activities, and overall ambiance.
The most important question to answer before booking is where you want your resort to be located.
Look into the weather forecast for the area during the time of your anticipated visit, as well as the distance of the resort from the airport.
Narrow it down so much as to consider the shade of blue that the color of the ocean will be based on the resort’s geological location.
Last, verify that there are no travel restrictions to or from the country in which your kid-friendly all-inclusive resort is located in.
Speaking of the ocean, it is important to know what type of beach you’re looking for so that you aren’t surprised when you get there.
Beaches aren’t all created equal, so once again, read up on firsthand reviews about the safety and condition of the resort’s beach.
This is also a good time to consider if the all-inclusive resort that you are considering offers the watersports that you and your kids are interested in.
If not, are rentals and or watersport excursions available nearby?
While relaxing on the beach is fun, chances are that if you are traveling with kids, you will also want a variety of daily activities to choose from.
Look into the availability of on-site activities, kids’ programs, and evening shows.
Some all-inclusive resorts like Beaches Seasame Street in Turks and Caicos have around-the-clock themed activities that cater to families with children.
Likewise, if you are looking to venture off of the resort, also consider if excursions are available and/or included in your all-inclusive stay.
One of the best features of a kid-friendly all-inclusive resort is
Whether you order room service, indulge in an all-you-can
Look into the restaurant offerings at each all-inclusive, as well as the availability of casual quick-serve lunch options to enjoy by the beach or pool.
Another important thing to look for is what ‘all-inclusive’ actually means.
Because this feature varies from resort to resort, you’ll want to analyze if drink packages, room service, and/or fine dining are included in your stay.
Additional planning tip: If you happen to be traveling with fussy eaters, be sure to equip yourself with these tips that will help manage traveling with picky eaters.
These tips will be a lifesaver!
The last thing to consider when choosing an all-inclusive resort is the overall ambiance that you are looking for.
A family-friendly property has a much different vibe than an adults-only one. So depending on who you’re traveling with, you’ll want to do some research on what each resort specializes in.
Consider if the resort is focused on relaxation versus a plethora of high energy daily activities.
Is it a large mega-resort, or a smaller, more personalized property?
The overall ambiance of an all-inclusive resort makes a huge difference on whether or not your vacation expectations will be met, so spend plenty of time looking into this.
4. Obtain Passports
There is an increasingly strong demand for passports in recent years.
Because of this, apply for your family’s passports well ahead of your scheduled international travel date.
By applying early, you will avoid having to pay for expedited processing time and guarantee that your passport will be delivered to you before your travels.
If you already have a passport, be sure to review the current entry and
Many countries require that U.S. passports have an expiration date that is still valid 6 months beyond your travel date.
Also, for current passports, keep in mind that a child’s passport is only valid for 5 years, while an adult passport is valid for 10 years.
Make sure that yours are not expired.
To review current passport requirements and application processes, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
5. Book Your Flights
My top tip when booking flights is to book a non-stop flight or one with the fewest amount of stops.
I am a huge fan of direct fights and am willing to pay considerably more for flights that allow my family direct access to our final destination.
When flying with kids, there is a huge decrease in stress when only having to worry about one airplane and one on-time flight. Further, there is only one boarding and de-boarding process.
Not having a connecting flight means no additional airport layouts to
If flying direct is not an option from your hometown airport, consider driving to the nearest international airport to catch a direct flight from there.
Additional planning tips: Make sure that you bring along a pen to fill out customs paperwork on the airplane. Be sure to fill out the top and bottom half of the immigration forms.
Retain the portion of the form that is given back to you and store it in your passport holder. This is required to clear customs upon departure.
6. Arrange Transportation
Arranging transportation from the airport to your final destination involves pre
As with every other aspect of overseas travel, selecting the appropriate mode of transportation at your destination airport involves research, preparation, and advanced reservations.
Use your favorite internet search engine and talk to friends or co-workers who have recently traveled to your destination.
First-hand knowledge and reviews will help you gather as many details as possible for your specific destination.
Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll have identified several options such as taxis, buses, airport shuttles, limo services, etc.
Weigh the pros, cons (risks), and reliability of each and decide what mode of transportation you are willing to use.
Finally, upon booking your reservation, be sure to clarify a specific time and place to meet.
Exchange contact information as a means to connect if there are flight delays or if linking up isn’t going as planned.
Kid-Friendly All-Inclusive Vacation: 1 – 3 months in advance
1. Research the Resort
1 month prior to your all-inclusive vacation, look up your resort on Trip Advisor.
This is my favorite web-based search tool to read in
Not only will you find the bad reviews to take into consideration, but I recommend paying close attention to tips that other travelers recommend.
Experienced travelers will often find hidden gems, but they will also have very specific restaurant and customer service mentions that will surely enhance your stay.
Continue to research the resort and all that they have to offer.
By doing so, you will not miss out on the many incredible amenities that are unique to your all-inclusive resort.
Additional planning tip: Here are the detailed reviews and itineraries of 2 kid-friendly all-inclusive resorts that we have visited. As you’ll see, there are major pluses and minuses to consider.
2. Prepare the Kids
Traveling abroad provides so many unique developmental, cultural and educational benefits for kids.
As a parent, do some research on the country that you will be visiting.
Sit down together as a family to discuss the awesome opportunity that you have to learn about this particular country and their culture.
Likewise, discuss the country’s language, economy, local cuisine, and overall way of life.
Talk to your kids about the cultural differences they will experience in the country that you will be visiting in order to foster respect and acceptance towards others while there.
Many children have a fear of the
Giving them a firsthand perspective of a new country or region will
hase Travel Essentials
I simply cannot stress enough the importance of obtaining a few basic travel products that will help make your family vacation a breeze.
On a separate page, I discuss my favorite family travel products and why we use them every single time we travel.
Kid-Friendly All-Inclusive Vacation: 1 week in advance
1. Begin Packing
Before starting to pack for your all-inclusive vacation, be sure to read up on our top family packing tips!
Next, check your resort’s official website to see what the evening dining dress code is for both men, women, and children.
Some places require long pants and a long-sleeved shirt for men, while others advertise a more casual dress attire.
Many family-friendly all-inclusive resorts require that boys ages 12 and up also wear long pants to dinner.
If your resort advertises a particular dress code, don’t assume that they will be lenient once you get there. Be sure to pack at least one semi-formal outfit just in case.
Last, double-check our vacation packing checklist to be sure that you have not forgotten any necessary items!
2. Make Copies of Your Passports
One week before your departure, make colored copies of your travel party’s passport ID page.
It is recommended to keep the copies in a separate location from the originals and to travel with them in your carry-on luggage.
If a passport is lost or stolen during your trip you will use the photocopy to generate a police report and start working on getting a replacement.
3. Prepare Your Home
Your vacation should be relaxing and worry-free which is why it is always a good idea to prepare your home before you leave on any long trip.
Keep your house looking occupied while you are gone by stopping the mail, or by asking a trusted neighbor to pick it up while you are away.
Take the necessary electrical precautions by making sure that your smoke alarms are working and by unplugging small appliances and electronic devices.
Last, be sure that your thermostat is set to a safe temperature.
Plumbing precautions include putting the water heater in “vacation” mode and turning off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine, and all sinks.
Leave your emergency contact information with a neighbor so that things on the home front are one less thing to worry about.
Kid-Friendly All-Inclusive Vacation: 3 days in advance
1. Check the Weather
Rainy? Cold? Hot?
Cool in the evenings?
Having a general idea of what the weather will be like while you travel will help determine the type of clothes that you will need to pack.
This will also help determine the non-essentials (things to leave behind!).
Make it a point to check the weather forecast for your destination the day that you begin packing.
Check the weather forecast again the day before you depart so that you can make any last-minute changes or additions.
Additional planning tip: No matter what the weather, be sure to bring a light jacket or
2. Contact Your Credit Card Company
Always contact your bank and credit card company to let them know when and where you will be traveling.
Credit card companies do an amazing job with fraud protection these days.
Locate the phone number on the back of your credit card to initiate an upcoming ‘travel notification’.
Alternatively, create a notification through your bank and/or credit card’s online account system.
Inform them which cardholders will be traveling and let them know the dates and location of your travel destination(s).
3. Review Airport Security Procedures With the Kids
Explain the check-in process and the importance of having patience while waiting in potentially long lines.
Emphasize that the security checkpoint is an important step of flying. Likewise, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are there to help keep everyone safe in the air.
Review with each child what ‘their job’ will be when going through airport security and encourage them to be responsible for their own carry-on item.
Explain the process of going through the metal detectors, taking off jackets and shoes (kids over 12), and putting their belongings onto the moving belt.
Remind kids that their electronics and snacks need to be sent through security separately.
Last, make sure the kids have not forgotten to ditch any bottled water or juice that they may have been sipping on.
Arrive At Your Destination
You’ve prepared, packed, traveled, and have arrived at your destination!
Relax, have fun, and marvel in the many benefits of family travel, many of which are unexpected.
Move slowly around your surroundings.
Be on the look-out for unique experiences and make the most of the opportunity to have a truly
Final Tips for the Ultimate Kid-Friendly All-Inclusive Vacation
- Confirm your requested accommodations before leaving home.
- Book your dinner reservations in advance when able.
- Confirm Kids Club information and hours of operation.
- Ask for a list of daily, scheduled activities.
- Pack a collapsible beach bag that can be used to carry and stow all of your beach and pool essentials.
- Bring a few activities for kids to do in the room during downtime.
- Have plenty of small American bills (for tips) on hand even though tips may be included.
- Bring your own over-the-counter medications (including stomach meds).
- Pack your own sunscreen and bug spray.
- Prepare for a lot of walking within the resort.
- Be willing to flex the kids’ bedtime if there are fun evening activities taking place.
What are your biggest hesitations or questions about planning a fun and stress-free kid-friendly all-inclusive vacation? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to help!Jen
If you like our tips on how to plan and pick the best kid-friendly all-inclusive vacation, click here to check out our Related Posts:
- Ultimate Guide for Traveling Internationally with Kids
- Top 16 Tips for Effortless Flying with Kids
- What to Bring to Mexico: Vacation Packing Checklist
- 10 Simple Travel Products: All for Less Than $30
- Family Vacation Packing Tips: How to Pack Like A Pro
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*
What a great list Jen, this checklist is extremely comprehensive! I love how detailed the post is, and how you’ve broken it down into what we need to do and when! We are looking to visit an all-inclusive resort in 2021, so I am also going to check out your articles on Playa del Carmen & Playa Mujeres!
Thank you, Catherine! Good luck in planning your upcoming family vacation!!
It’s a great strategy to travel outside. I really appreciate how comprehensive this list is!
These are all great tips! Pinning for future reference for when I plan our next trip!
I’m glad that you’ve found this post useful! I LOVE all-inclusives and am itching to get another one planned soon!
Enjoyed reading the blog above , really explains everything in detail,the blog is very interesting and effective.
All-Inclusives are such an easy way to travel with kids 🙂
This is such a great comprehensive post! I like how you break down the implications of international travel. Too few families do that.