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Self Catering, Half Board Or All- Inclusive?

If you’re already in the process of planning your next big getaway, you will have probably come face-to-face with this common holidaymaker’s dilemma: should you go self-catering, half board or all-inclusive?

For many, the decision is likely to be based around both budget and the sort of experience they are hoping to enjoy on their trip. But for those who are struggling to make a decision, we’ve broken down the boards to provide a clear picture of the pros and cons of each. Just bear in mind, there is no ‘right’ decision, just the choice that best suits you.

Self-catering – suit yourself

There is one word which rings clear in the minds of those that subscribe to the self-catering school of thought: freedom. Whether it’s a cosy AirBnB for two, a cottage with friends or a villa with the family, booking self-catered accommodation means that you can set your own timetable and do what you want, when you want. 

Self-catered accommodation is a great choice for those that want to keep costs low as it’s easy to pick up some local ingredients and cook a meal at home or make a packed lunch for a day out exploring. It also works well for the adventurous traveller who is keen to plan their own entertainment and dine out in a variety of places. However, be sure to research your destination thoroughly so you don’t end up in a ghost town with no nearby restaurants or in a place where the closest eateries are hugely over-priced.

This is also an excellent option for those who miss their home comforts when they’re on the road. A home-away-from-home means you can also make the most of your space without having to worry about guests other than your party. However, this can be a double-edged sword as self-catering isn’t necessarily the best option if you are hoping to socialise children with other families or meet like-minded people. 

Another con could be that you are solely responsible for keeping your accommodation clean and preparing meals – some people come on holiday to relax and escape those chores. 

Half board – the day-tripper’s choice

Bridging the gap between both worlds, half board is usually part of a package offered by hotels whereby breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the room.

Half board is a popular option amongst those who want the convenience of having their meals provided yet are keen to head out of the hotel during the day, perhaps for sightseeing tours and excursions. Families or groups of friends that like to pack their itinerary with activities and day trips can fill up on breakfast, grab a bite at their destination of choice during the daytime and then return home to the hotel, content in the knowledge that they won’t have to cook or traipse around looking for a place to eat out.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that if you do want additional snacks or decide to lunch at the hotel, you’ll have to pay for them. So, if you plan to lounge by the pool for most of your trip, you might end up spending more than you expected in the long run. 

All-inclusive – everything under one roof

Last but not least, we have the all-inclusive option, the board of choice for those who want to put their feet up, relax and have everything they need within arm’s reach. An all-inclusive package usually includes all meals, snacks and even drinks – both soft and alcoholic. 

Larger families might find this an easy option as every ice-cream or bottle of water for the little ones is provided by the hotel or resort; there’s no need to carry money around with you. Plus it’s likely you will also have access to activities and clubs that you might otherwise have to pay for – useful for parents or grandparents looking to keep the kids entertained during the day and enjoy some quality family time in the evening.

Some all-inclusive deals also appeal to honeymooners or those seeking a little romance from their holiday. As long as you plan to enjoy all the benefits of the resort or hotel and won’t be venturing too far afield, an all-inclusive holiday can save you from accidently going over your budget. However, some travellers might find this a little restrictive or grow tired of staying in one place with an exciting new destination right on the doorstep.

With a little bit of forethought, it’s not hard to pick the right board option for your trip. The task that can take a bit longer is choosing the right travel insurance plan to ensure you and your loved ones are covered. Medical Travel Compared can help with that – we have access to a range of insurers, many of which cover pre-existing conditions – so try out our online comparison tool and get a quote today.


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