My family of five has visited and loved a few different all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. In my experience, there are some items you should pack, but some you should not pack. I’m sharing my top Ten Things Not to Pack for a Family Trip to an All-Inclusive Resort.
I highly recommend all-inclusive resorts as a family vacation option. I refer to them as a cruise on land. They are a very relaxing vacation for a family where you can go at your own pace, relax, or go on excursions. If you choose your resort wisely, there will be many options to keep your family busy right at the resort for the whole week (though excursions are fun too of course).
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Don’t Pack Extra Snacks for in Your Room
I’m a mom of three boys and I’ve always been a fan of bringing snacks everywhere I go. A hungry boy is very crabby one so I always pack snacks (think babies and toddlers, and even the teen boys get hungry crabby–hangry real quick). It’s just a way of #momlife. Food is always on my mind and I consider how long we will be gone and will we need food. I’d rather stick a few granola bars in my purse than deal with a grouchy hungry boy.
With this mom mindset, on our first trip to an all-inclusive I loaded up my suitcase with extra snacks to keep in the room in case someone got hungry. My thought process was to keep the crabby boy state away especially while on vacation. However, once we got there I saw how my plan was completely unnecessary.
Each morning when we would go to the breakfast buffet, I would simply slip a few mini boxes of cereal in my beach bag. I’d add a few pieces of fruit too for snacks later in the day. This way if we took a rest in the room midday, we would have snacks readily available. It was nice because I wouldn’t have to run down to the buffet to grab snacks. Plus, that’s the point of all-inclusive, the food is already paid for so why not take extra just in case someone gets hungry. In my experience, someone always gets hungry and it’s a lifesaver to have the snack.
Pop it into the beach bag for when going on excursions for a backup snack. It might just make or break your day to think ahead for kid snacks.
Some resorts even have a small refrigerator in the room where you could put things like an extra yogurt if you plan to head back to your room after the meal.
Don’t Pack Your Own Beach Towels
Do not waste your time and suitcase space packing beach towels. The resort will have some for you to use each day. The towels get sandy, dirty, and wet. The resort staff will wash them so you can get a new fresh clean towel the next morning.
I’ve tried bringing our own beach towels and it just isn’t worth it. The towels never fully dry overnight in the room plus they don’t ever get washed. The amount of space they take up in your suitcase is not worth it just to have your own. Save that space for something more valuable and needed like an extra nice outfit for dinner.
For ideas of what to pack, check out my post What to pack for an family trip to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.
Don’t Bring a Large Purse
If you’re anything like me fellow moms your daily purse is almost like a mini suitcase (and the weight of it matches a mini suitcase). To name a few items, I always have tissues, mints, nail clippers, dental floss, band-aids, a coupon pouch, and makeup all stuffed into it. I lug my purse around every day like I’m carrying around barbells. Not a bad thing, think extra calories burned, I know, that’s a stretch but I’ll still take, ha! But you really won’t need a large purse at an all-inclusive resort.
Fellow Mamas, bring a small purse instead to simply hold your makeup, phone, and room card. This way you will feel freer as you saunter about the resort than you would have felt lugging a giant purse. When I needed to bring larger items like sunscreen and the camera, I just used the beach bag I had packed.
If you want something bigger than a small purse, take a look at my favorite travel backpack.
Flying birds at the beach….simply stunning!
Read my post for guidance on Pros and Cons of a Large All-Inclusive Resort Versus a Small All-Inclusive Resort
Don’t Bring Extra Credit Cards or Your Checkbook
Do not bring your checkbook because you won’t be writing checks. It’s all about using cards. Don’t bring multiple credit cards either, only bring two credit cards. I always bring two just so I have a backup card in case I lose one or a certain place doesn’t take that type of card.
Personal tip: Always contact your credit card company to inform them of your travel plans so they don’t freeze your account due to unexpected suspicious activity. This happened to my husband once when he went to Canada. When the credit card company noticed charges occurring in Canada, they froze his card. He had to go through hoops calling the credit card company to get it unfrozen. This is not what you want to be doing on your trip.
Many companies now have a way to easily inform them of travel plans on an automated page on their website. A few simple clicks on their website or a phone call will save you lots of problems.
Do Not Bring Certain OTC Meds like Sudafed
Do not bring Sudafed over-the-counter medication. I was told a horrifying story by a friend (a reliable friend) who heard a personal account from their friend of how she was incarcerated for bringing Sudafed into Mexico. Just don’t risk it. It’s not worth the risk of jail time. Bring an alternative OTC cold medication if you need too.
I always bring some OTC medications like ibuprofen, Tums, Dramamine, antibiotic ointment, and anti-diarrheal medication like Imodium just in case. I never want to be scrambling for such medications and sometimes a simple OTC can make all the difference in your comfort and enjoyment for the day. Most resorts have OTC in their gift shops, but they are usually a small bottle and unnecessarily expensive.
Do NOT Bring Expensive Jewelry
Do not bring expensive jewelry or diamonds. I have a friend who had jewelry stolen from her suitcase while flying out of a Mexican airport. Bring cheap jewelry only and nothing of sentimental value. It can be tempting to bring your favorite necklace or a bracelet your son made you in kindergarten, but the risk of losing it is not worth having it for a night out at the resort.
Instead go shopping before your trip and take a run through the store to buy some jewelry on clearance. This way it will be jewelry you like plus as a cheap purchase you won’t care as much if it gets stolen. Plus, you get to go shopping;)
Don’t Bring Hand Sanitizer or Hand wipes (Unless you are going on Excursions then bring hand sanitizer)
Why would I say that? Well, because in my experience, the resorts are moving towards having hand sanitizer available at the entrance of all their restaurants. This is a great action step resorts are taking to prevent illnesses from spreading. Healthy guests are happy guests.
I brought two packs of hand wipes but never even used one wipe because we used the hand sanitizer at the entrance of each restaurant or stopped in the bathroom to wash our hands. They typically have bathrooms everywhere so it was never hard to find a bathroom when one was needed.
I do think you should bring hand sanitizer if you plan to go on excursions however because bathrooms might be harder to find for washing hands.
Once we took an excursion which included a boat ride without a bathroom for forty-five minutes. I wear contacts and I had to pull out my contact to fix it on the boat ride. I did not have hand sanitizer only hand wipes so I used the hand wipe before touching my eye.
Guess what happened? The next morning I had an eye infection on vacation. Luckily, I had antibiotic drops along leftover from my son’s eye infection and I did the no-no and used them for myself (only because I didn’t want to pay for a doctor visit in Mexico where my insurance wouldn’t cover it). If I had brought hand sanitizer rather than a wipe, I think I could have avoided the eye infection.
Don’t Bring Large Bills
Don’t bring large bills of cash, but bring a stack of ones for tipping. This way you won’t have to attempt to get change for smaller bills. You may need a five or two for an extra tip for a driver or extra special waiter, but ones work best. If you have small bills, you can use as many or little as you want. We often bring $150.00 to $200.00 in ones for tipping waiters, housekeeping staff, drivers, and excursion tour guides. That has been plenty of tip money for a week-long trip in our experience.
Don’t Pack High Heels
There is a fair amount of walking at resorts, so unless you know the resort or are used to walking in high heels, I’d suggest not bringing high heels. Comfortable shoes are important. The last resort we went to was 300 acres so it was just huge. They did have shuttle buses to drive resort guests around, but at times we needed to walk because we needed to be at a reservation. Pack comfortable dress shoes however as most resorts have dress codes for dinner that don’t allow flip flops.
Our family enjoyed the freedom of mainly planning the days agenda last minute based on what we wanted to do at that moment. I was happy having comfortable versatile shoes on my feet that were easy to walk in and beach friendly in case we suddenly felt like popping down to the beach (so fun).
Don’t Pack Low SPF Suncreen
The sun burns hot and sunburn happens quicker the closer you get to the equator so you will need a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin.
Each day a different person in my family experienced an area of sunburn because we’d swim all day and miss a spot during sunscreen re-application. If you bring a low SPF sunscreen, you will be at even more risk of burning. We were reapplying sunscreen constantly but sunburn still happened.
Going in the water and toweling off rubbed the sunscreen off leaving skin areas vulnerable. I got burned on my shoulder frequently where the beach bag strap was so as I carried the bag the sunscreen rubbed off resulting in a sunburn. You should use a high SPF sunscreen and reapply often, and don’t forget tops of the ears (my son missed his ears one day and he was in pain from sunburn).
I like the sunscreen stick because it lays on a thick layer. For the spray sunscreen, my favorite is the Neutrogena brand wet skin spray that can be sprayed on wet skin. Perfect for kids who are always in the water!
I hope this list helps you plan for your family trip to an all-inclusive resort. Packing can be stressful, but a rather fun stressful task. For more tips on packing for a family trip check out my blog post What to pack for an family trip to an all-inclusive resort.