Here’s a list of what you must pack for an all inclusive resort vacation. This packing list and tips will ensure you don’t forget anything – because even all inclusive resorts don’t have everything!
If you don’t have your luggage yet, the TravelWise Packing Cubes are the most popular suitcases on Amazon (and they come in colors other than purple!). I usually take extra bags with me when I go on vacation, to fill them with souvenirs and gifts for friends and family. It’s better if your extra luggage can nestle inside each other neatly.
Here’s another tip on what to pack for all inclusive resort vacations: “Pack your own re-useable ice,” says Jeremy, who created a Stainless Steel Coffee Mugs website. “Some ice cubes are little plastic bags or stones. Use this with your travel mugs and you’ve got your own ice and cup! Most bars won’t mind putting the mixed drink in your cup for you — and you’re not drinking the water.” Why re-usable ice? Because it doesn’t melt and water down the drink! If you have a fridge and freezer in your all inclusive resort hotel room, use the Teraforma Whisky Stones to keep your drinks icy cold without watering them down.
What to Pack for an All Inclusive Resort Vacation
Make sure you pack a change of clothes – including swimsuit and flip flops – in your carry on bag before you get on the flight. This way, if your room isn’t ready (like ours wasn’t when we got to our all inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica), you can start enjoying your vacation right away!
If you haven’t booked your flight yet, read The Best Time to Book Airline Tickets.
1. Hand sanitizer. Easy to forget, crucial to have even when you’re going to an all inclusive resort vacation! Always wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after playing in the sand – because children and adults who build castles and dig in the sand at the beach are at greater risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases and diarrhea than people who only walk on the shore or swim in the surf, according to research from the University of North Carolina and the Environmental Protection Agency. Grab a couple travel bottles of hand sanitizer — the Bath & Body Works White Citrus Cleansing Hand Gel smells gorgeous — and put them in all your beach bags.
2. Travel mug – stainless steel? When we went to an all inclusive resort vacation in Costa Rica, we packed travel mugs. I shrugged him off — and regretted it the whole trip! Insulated travel mugs keep your mai tais and diet Cokes icy cold, and your morning coffee hot and fresh. You can take them to the beach or pool, and enjoy larger serving sizes. This packing tip seems counterintuitive (since “everything” is included on an all-inclusive holiday), but it’s a great idea. Also, as far as toxins go, I’ve read that stainless steel travel mugs are better than plastic.
3. iPad, Kindle, or other electronic reader. I’m a huge fan of print books — I can’t stand the thought of reading on an e-reader! But, I also can’t stand the thought of being weighed down by tons ‘o beach books, so…I choose the lesser of two evils. If you like to read, you have to know what to pack for an all inclusive resort vacation: an e-reader. Packing an iPad, Kindle, or some type of e-reader may be one of the smartest packing tips for all inclusive vacations that you’ll get. They’re not too expensive — check out the Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device and the Apple iPad on Amazon. Wifi access is good to have, even when you’re on vacation.
4. Old clothes, to leave behind. I always bring old clothes on my vacations, because I run every morning. Most mornings, anyway. After I wear my old running clothes, I leave them in the hotel room for the cleaning staff to use however they like…and I have space in my suitcase for new clothes and souvenirs! This packing tip may not work if you care how you look on your holidays…but I’d prefer to look a little “shabbier” and have more room in my luggage to bring souvenirs home. Knowing what to pack for an all inclusive vacation involves knowing what you want to bring home.
5. Pilates or Yoga mat. The Allegro Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica offered stretch classes, which I loved. But no matter where I am — an all-inclusive resort or my own gym at home — I’m not a big fan of exercise mats that other people have sweated on. If you think you’ll be exercising on vacation (don’t knock it!), pack your Pilates or Yoga mat. Or, use your hand sanitizer to wipe down the mat at the resort. One of the best things to pack for an all inclusive resort vacation is a yoga mat – if you like to do yoga.
6. Nail polish and manicure set — his and hers. Our all-inclusive resort vacation had a spa, but the manicure, pedicure, and massage prices were too rich for my blood. Whenever I go on holidays — all inclusive vacations or not — I always bring my own spa supplies. I love painting my nails by the pool, especially since I never have time to do it before I go on vacation (there are so many other things to take care of!).
Of course, don’t forget to take money with you. Check the credit card rates before you go – it may be better to take US cash than charge up your credit card at an all inclusive resort (they charge extra for spa services, off-resort trips, souvenirs, etc).
Our last trip was to Vegas for our eighth anniversary (not an all inclusive resort vacation, and easy to pack for!). Read How to Book a Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Going beyond these packing tips for an all inclusive resort vacation – here’s a list of items you need for any holiday at the beach:
- Dress shoes for à la carte restaurants
- Beach flip flops or water shoes
- Walking shoes/running shoes
- At least two swimsuits
- Beach and restaurant cover ups
- Light sweater for cool, breezy evenings
- Cloth tote bag or beach bag
- E-documents and travelling ID (one of the following: Photo ID such as Passport, Drivers License, Birth Certificate, Travel Visa, or Proof of Citizenship)
- Travel Insurance (unless you opted out, which we always do)
- Spending money (ATM Card, Cash or Credit Cards)
- Exchange rate calculator or notepad to do quick calculations
It’s always a good idea to pack a photocopy of your passport picture and information page even if you’re going on an all inclusive vacation that you think will be 100% safe. Also, leave a photocopy with a family member at home.
Essential items for all inclusive resort vacations:
- Hygiene products
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap (though your resort will probably provide this)
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Hair care products
- Brush or comb
- Clips or ponytail elastics
- Hair dryer with adapter
- Shaving kit
- Cotton swaps
- Lip balm
- Make-up kit
- Prescription medication
- First-aid Kit
- Aspirin or Tylenol
- Sunscreen and some type of sunburn relief
- Insect repellant and some type of anti-itch cream
If you have any thoughts on what to pack for an all inclusive resort vacation — or packing tips that I missed! — please comment below. If you still haven’t booked your trip, read 10 Tips for Booking a Cheap All Inclusive Vacation to Mexico.