What to Pack for an All-Inclusive Vacation

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.
  • 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!).

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
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene products & contraceptives
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Makeup remover
  • Makeup
  • 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.
  • Suncreen
  • 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

  • Shorts
  • 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! 

Travel Tip

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!

Pin it for later!

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what to pack for an all-inclusive vacation
all-inclusive vacation packing list

24 Comments

  1. January 9, 2021 / 10:27 am

    This is so helpful! Thank you for sharing!

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 9, 2021 / 11:18 am

      Thanks Andrea! I’m glad you found it helpful! 🙂

  2. January 9, 2021 / 8:37 pm

    This is an excellent list. I’ve never thought to bring those towel clips…always just leave a book over ours, but it’s actually a great idea!

    • Sarah
      Author
      January 10, 2021 / 1:14 pm

      Thanks Daphna! I got tired of trying to tuck my towel in the lounger haha!

  3. Stevie
    February 12, 2021 / 8:51 pm

    Incredible information ! Thank you for sharing❤️

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2021 / 12:49 pm

      Thanks so much Stevie! 🙂

  4. March 10, 2021 / 11:34 am

    i’m obsessed with those towel clips! what a great invention… i had no idea they even existed, but will for sure be coming with me on my next resort trip. also great tip on the wet brush, as someone w/ curly hair, i swear by mine, especially after swimming.

    • Sarah
      Author
      March 11, 2021 / 6:44 am

      Aren’t wet brushes amazing? I was so sad I didn’t find out about it until a couple of years ago. It’s made my life soooo much easier after swimming. And the towel clips are adorable! You can get all kinds of cute designs!

  5. Nora
    March 10, 2021 / 1:25 pm

    I’ve never actually had a vacation at an all inclusive resort. When I do, I will reference this article to make sure I am prepared. Thanks!

    • Sarah
      Author
      March 11, 2021 / 6:45 am

      I think you’d enjoy it, Nora! It’s a great way to relax! 🙂

  6. Erin from Pina Travels
    March 10, 2021 / 5:47 pm

    Thank you for this detailed list. I pretty much always forget something important when I travel anywhere, so this is really useful. I’m hoping to do an all inclusive as soon as I’ve been vaccinated, and I’ll definitely be referring back this checklist when the time comes!

    • Sarah
      Author
      March 11, 2021 / 6:46 am

      I soooo miss it too. I’m the type of person to pack and repack 5 times to make sure I’m not forgetting anything! Hope you’re able to travel safely soon! 🙂

  7. March 11, 2021 / 8:59 am

    This list is super helpful! I have never heard of a wet brush but it sounds like something I need!

    • Sarah
      Author
      March 11, 2021 / 1:32 pm

      Everyone needs one! I usually end up gifting one to someone at Christmas haha!

  8. March 11, 2021 / 9:01 am

    This list is super helpful! I have never heard of a wet brush but it sounds like something I need

  9. March 11, 2021 / 9:32 pm

    Sarah, I love your list. While one would think that you wouldn’t need to take too much in an all-inclusive, you really do need quite a bit. I like your tipping guidelines. Tipping always gives me anxiety. I can’t wait to get back to traveling. I hope things open up this summer.

    • Sarah
      Author
      March 12, 2021 / 6:25 am

      Thanks Ildiko! I miss it too. We probably over-tip compared to others, but it makes me feel good 🙂

  10. Ashley
    April 26, 2022 / 6:22 pm

    SO Helpful I’m going to my first ever resort and this was amazing!! Thank you

    • Sarah
      Author
      April 27, 2022 / 6:02 am

      Thank you so much Ashley!!! You’re going to be hooked on AI resorts. I hope you have a blast!!!

  11. KB
    May 8, 2022 / 11:51 am

    Where are the printable lists? I’m not seeing them.

    • Sarah
      Author
      May 9, 2022 / 8:43 am

      Hi there! Click on the image under the heading “All-Inclusive Vacation Packing List Printable Checklist” 🙂

  12. Cristina
    June 14, 2022 / 3:29 pm

    Great article but I disagree on the hair dryer. Yes, they have a hairdryer but not many have diffusers. As a curly hair lady I have never stayed at a resort or hotel that offers a diffuser for curly hair people. We have stayed at very exclusive hotels and resorts and I always ask out of curiosity and not once have they been able to accommodate my request. Also, traveling with just a diffuser sounds like a great idea but even the universal ones don’t always fir the hairdryers.

    • Sarah
      Author
      June 18, 2022 / 2:16 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Cristina! You make a very valid point 🙂

  13. October 6, 2022 / 7:20 am

    This article is very useful to the traveler, thank you so much for your wonderful information, sharing with us

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