When it comes to packing for an all-inclusive vacation, I’d like to think I’ve got it down to a science.
Over the years of travelling to various countries and resorts, I’ve slowly learned what I really need to bring, and what just adds extra bulk. I’ve even pared down my week-long beach vacations to a single backpack or carry-on!
Packing for an all-inclusive vacation is exciting and can help reduce your stress levels by giving you something to look forward to. But sometimes we overestimate what we really need to pack, or forget some of the more important, unexpected extras that can end up costing you at the resort.
All-inclusive resorts are so much fun and give you a great bang for your buck. With drinks, food, entertainment, activities, and even flights and transfers being included in an all-in-one price, how can you go wrong? The only decision you’re left to make is when and where to eat, and if you’ll spend your day by the beach or pool.
No matter where you go, this all-inclusive packing list is great for Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Cuba, Jamaica, etc! These are my tried-and-trusted items, but feel free to add in whatever else you may need! Be sure to grab your printable all-inclusive packing checklist at the bottom of this post!
I LOVE packing for beach vacations. I start weeks in advance (sometimes months haha, can you tell I look forward to going on vacation). I pull out items I think I may want and throw them into a tote box in our spare bedroom so at least everything is in one place (and can also help you visualize your outfits!).
So – what should I bring to an all-inclusive resort?
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What to pack in your carry on
- Passport (the most important thing you can bring!)
- Plane ticket/e-doc (since most of our flight information is now done with a QR scanner or barcode).
- Resort booking information
- Cash for tipping (more on this later!)
- Document holder: if you’re like me, I need all my things organized for easy access so I don’t stand around at security or the check-in counter fumbling through my items. Include your emergency contacts. I also bring one credit card for emergencies or if we decide to do an excursion. Also bring your transfer information if your transportation to and from the resort isn’t included, Driver’s License if you plan on renting a car, and any insurance information.
- Reusable water bottle
- Neck pillow
- Power bank
- Travel adapter (depending on where you’re going! If you’re coming from Canada or USA, you do not need one for Mexico.)
- Headphones, either noise cancelling (great for flights) or bluetooth ear buds for the pool or beach.
- Any valuables: never pack high-value items in your checked luggage!
- Travel jewelry case: I actually travel with a dummy wedding ring, more for my own peace of mind.
- A tote bag like this cute pineapple one so you can carry your belongings around once you arrive at the resort if your room isn’t ready (and also for the rest of your stay!).
- Swimsuit wet bag: for the trip back home. Although I will admit, a plastic bag works just as well haha!
- Medication (keep them in a handy cute pill organizer!)
- Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wet wipes
- Charging cables: I love bringing mine in a cable organizer case – it makes things so much easier!
- Masks (if you are required to fly with them or choose to wear them)
Tip: if you plan on checking a suitcase, pack enough clothing in your carry-on. This way it’s easy to change once you arrive at the resort if your room isn’t ready, and in the event your suitcase is delayed, at least you’ll have a fresh change of clothes (and your swimsuit!). This also includes a pair of flip flops!
My secret to carry-on travel? Packing cubes. They are amazing and it’s so incredible how much you can fit into a tiny space! Eagle Creek has proved to be my favourite brand of packing cubes so far. There are various sizes you can buy and even garment boards that fit into a carry on, complete with a folding board.
If you’re unsure of what sizes to get, I recommend the Eagle Creek starter set, which gives me enough space to pack an entire weeks’ worth of clothing for a beach vacation!
Not loving the idea of flying? Check out these 7 easy tips on how to fly more comfortably.
Toiletries to bring to an all-inclusive resort
Most commonly, toiletries are provided. Oftentimes I don’t even pack shampoo, conditioner, body lotion or shower gel because it’s all provided!
What I will pack, however, is an anti-frizz serum for my hair, which always decides to go crazy in the humidity. Everyone will have their favourite brand, but I personally use and love Redken’s Frizz Dismiss.
Just be mindful if you are only taking a carry-on, your liquids must not be more than 100 ml each. I like using reusable bottles, like these ones.
I also cannot recommend enough bringing a Wet Brush. If you don’t want the full-size (perhaps you’re only bringing a carry on, you can get it’s little sister, the Wet Brush Mini. I don’t know what magic has been put into this brush, but detangling my unruly hair after swimming is a breeze (and pain free!). Get the combo of them both and use one at home and one for travel – it’s what I do! I actually end up giving this as a gift often!
- Aloe vera: opt for natural ones without the colouring in it (I neve understood why it needed to be green!).
- Insect repellant: of all my trips to the islands, I’ve only ever needed to apply bug spray on one of my trips.
- Hair ties and bobby pins
- Feminine hygiene products & contraceptives
- Razor and shaving cream
- Makeup remover
- Tide stick
- Toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste: I love bringing mine in these travel toothbrush cases. Plus this comes as a set for you and your travel partner! It helps to keep everything together and organized!
If you’re on the hunt for a great travel toiletry bag to keep everything together and in one spot, this chic hanging toiletry bag has a hook on it so you can hang it, plus it’s water-resistant, and it’s the #1 Best-Seller in toiletry bags on Amazon!
Things to pack for the beach & pool for an all-inclusive resort
- Flip flops
- Cover up: at least 2! Since they’re small, I usually bring 3 of them, so if one gets wet I have another one to throw on. They’re great for putting on to go for lunch since most resorts require guests to be clothed for sit-down restaurants.
- Swimsuits: at least 2 so you’ll always have a dry one. I really love Cupshe as a brand, and have many swimsuits from them! A lot of their styles are very flattering, comfy, and affordable too!
- Sunglasses: I usually bring two, and pack them in hard cases. These ones come as a 3 pack!
- Beach bag: super handy to carry your belongings down to the beach or pool.
- Reef safe sunscreen: if you’re planning on any ocean-swimming or excursions with water elements, it’s a good idea to pack your own reef-safe sunscreen since tour operators and attractions require this to protect the delicate ecosystems. If you don’t bring your own, you may be required to purchase some, which can be expensive (or go without, but trust me, you might regret that part!).
- Lip sunscreen: we usually tend to forget about our lips!
- Books (or Kindle): depending on your preference (I like physical books), but the Kindle Paperwhite has an anti-glare screen and barely takes up any room and you can load tons of books on it!
You may want to consider towel clips to keep your towels fastened to your lounger. They really come in handy because they help you quickly identify your lounger, and you can get all kinds of cute ones. They also make great gifts!
- Tumbler: not really a necessity, but it is eco-conscious and fun if you’re travelling in a group (like weddings!). You can get personalized ones from Etsy, but any tumbler will do. Pack them by wrapping them in clothing in your suitcase. I love the Bubba stainless steel bottles.
Clothing to pack for an all-inclusive vacation
- Tank tops/t-shirts
- Day dresses
- Dressy sandals for evening
- Evening wear: be sure to read the dress code on your resort’s website, as many require more formal evening wear. This especially applies to men – usually no open-toed shoes, and men must wear long pants and collared shirts. As a rule of thumb, I bring 4 dresses for a 7 night stay, and two pairs of shoes that go with either outfit.
- Active wear: if you plan on doing any excursions, or working out.
- A light sweater. I always wear one on the plane.
- Undergarments (including socks for plane travel – I always wear sneakers on the plane)
- For women: sticky bras or petals – this may not work for everyone, but I love using them.
Depending on the material of your clothing or if you’re there for a special event like a wedding, mini-steamers are perfect for travel. Just check with your resort first to see if they’re in your rooms.
Related: Heading to Mexico? See this list of 20+ awesome excursions to take in Cancun and the Riviera Maya!
What I pack for an all-inclusive resort
Sometimes it’s hard to gauge how many outfits or pieces of clothing you’ll need. But as a guide, this is the clothing that I pack for a week:
- 2 bathing suits (minimum)
- Flip flops and 2 pairs of evening sandals
- 2-3 cover ups
- T-shirt/tank top and pair of shorts
- 4 evening dresses
- Enough underwear for each day (plus a few extras!)
- A cute evening purse for dinners to carry my phone, tips, lipstick and room card.
- Outfit for the plane ride home: t-shirt, light sweater, long pants, running shoes
- Laundry bag (some packing cubes come with one, so double check before you buy another!)
I’m not going to deny it – 90% of the time I spend the day in a bathing suit and cover up. I just don’t see the reason to bring t-shirts or shorts when I know I’m going to be lazing by the pool! Shorts and tank tops are great for excursions, so I will bring them anyway in the event we decide to go off-resort.
You can see how this easily fits into a carry-on!
I never go anywhere without my emergency medical kit. It doesn’t have to be big, but it can contain some essential items you don’t want to be caught without! Feel free to make it your own!
Don’t forget to add a luggage tag (one that secures properly!) to your luggage – checked or not. I will face my personal info facing in, so it isn’t visible. See what other incredibly useful travel items (under $20!) that I highly recommend and use all the time (especially #20!😂 Be sure to bring that one with you! You will thank me for it later!).
Travelling by bus or train?
Don’t forget to bring the right kind of ID with you!
Is it customary to tip at an all-inclusive resort?
While all-inclusive resorts state that gratuities are included, it’s the norm to tip for good service. Every time we travel I always bring an extra couple hundred dollars in tips and it’s well worth it! The staff work so hard to give us a relaxing and memorable holiday – the least we can do is show our appreciation!
If we can afford to travel, we can certainly afford to tip. It doesn’t have to be much, but a little goes a long way (especially if you consider the average daily wage of Mexico, for example, to be $5 USD).
How much do you tip at an all-inclusive resort?
This is what we personally tip, and of course it’s completely discretionary.
- Drinks: $1-$2/drink
- Breakfast: $2-$5/couple
- Lunch: $5/couple
- Dinner: $5-$15/couple
- Housekeeping: $3-$5/day
- Turndown service: $3-$5/day
- Mini fridge attendant: $2-$3/day
- Spa services: 20% of services
What NOT to pack for an all-inclusive vacation
Things I don’t pack for a beach vacation
- Towels: you’ll even be given a towel card or will have free access to towels throughout the resort for the beach and pool.
- Pillows – some resorts, like Excellence Playa Mujeres and Excellence Riviera Cancun, even have their own pillow menus!
- A hair dryer. They’re in your room!
- Shampoo, lotion, body wash, etc. – that’s provided!
Be sure to weigh your luggage!
Be sure to weigh your luggage, including your carry-on! Excess baggage fees can add up, so be sure you’re under the total! I love this digital luggage scale and it gives me the confidence to know I’ll avoid additional baggage fees at the airport.
Check your airline’s luggage allowances prior to heading the airport, and if necessary, adjust some of your packing to distribute the weight.
All-Inclusive Vacation Packing List Printable Checklist
Do you have any other items you pack for an all-inclusive vacation? Drop a comment below and let me know!
- What to Pack in a DIY Travel Medical Kit
- 20 Cheap Travel Items Under $20 (That Are Surprisingly Useful!)
- Fun Excursions in Cancun and the Riviera Maya to Do on Your Next Trip!
- Awesome Private Airport Transfers in Cancun
- The Best Adults-Only Resorts in Mexico
- How to Travel With a Carry-On Only
- Mexico’s Best Adults-Only: Excellence Playa Mujeres
- Adults-Only Luxury at Excellence Riviera Cancun
- Why You Need to Stay at El Dorado Casitas Royale