• Charlotte Brenner

    It’s one of the biggest decisions you have to make when booking your holiday (apart from picking the destination, of course)!

    Deciding whether to go all inclusive or self-catering can be a daunting prospect for the first time holiday goer, especially if you don’t really know what to expect with either.

    Knowledge is power, so if you’re not quite sure what self-catering or all inclusive entails, then it pays to do your homework.

    Simply put, self-catering means pretty much that – the price includes your accommodation, but in terms of food, you are on your own. On the other hand, all inclusive rates take care of all of that for you, so you don’t need to worry about buying meals, snacks or even drinks.

    That’s both types of holidays in a nutshell, however both self-catering and all inclusive have their perks and pitfalls. Read on to discover which is right for you, so you can book in absolute confidence…



    Obviously the cost of the holiday is a huge factor for most people when booking. While most self-catering holidays look cheaper on paper, remember there are lots of extra costs when you are away, such as meals, snacks, tours and car rental. While all inclusive may appear slightly more expensive in the brochure, remember that it includes all your meals, snacks, and even drinks.

    In reality, all inclusive holidays will probably end up being cheaper for you by the time you touch down back home.




    In terms of food, both types of holiday have their advantages, but in very different ways.

    If it’s variety you want, then go for self-catering. You can spend every evening wandering the streets of the resort, deciding which restaurant to eat at, and sample real authentic local cuisine.

    On the other hand, all inclusive is the more convenient option, and great for families with fussy kids. You will probably be offered a buffet menu every night, which you can enjoy in the comfort of your hotel complex. It takes the stress out of choosing where to eat at the end of the day, and as we’ve already mentioned, it’s included in the price.

    There’s one thing that both options provide, however: delicious, local food that offers real value for money!



    Self-catering accommodation can vary wildly. You can get a simple room in a small hotel, or opt for a large apartment with kitchen facilities so you can cook your own meals. With that in mind, it’s really difficult to predict the quality of self-catering accommodation based on the board alone. You’ll need to look at other details, such as star rating and brochure images, before making a truly educated decision.

    All inclusive, on the other hand, tends to be a bit more predictable. The resorts have comfortable rooms, and the complex itself will be well equipped to keep you and your party amused throughout the day, with activities such as swimming, kids’ clubs and other sports and leisure facilities. However, this “cookie cutter” approach to holidays does not suit everyone, so some prefer to go for self-catering for this very reason.

    All inclusive vs. self-catering is a very personal choice and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whatever you choose will depend on what it is you want from your holiday, whether it is something friendly on the wallet,value for money, a good variety of food or reliable accommodation. Whichever you choose will depend on what matters to you.

    What do you prefer? All inclusive or self-catering? Tell us in the comments section below!

    Images via Villas Vallarta, Robert S. Donovan, George M. Groutas and Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta under a creative commons license.