The good things in life may well be free, but that noble sentiment doesn’t usually apply to holidays. I remember one holiday we took when the children were younger only too well. We had tried to be sensible, choosing to go self-catering in a reasonably-priced apartment. The plan was to have a snack at lunchtime and then cook our own dinner each evening. We knew we were going to save money that way. How wrong could we have been!
The cheap snack lunches turned out to cost a small fortune, never mind the ice cold drinks everyone needed in the heat. The ice creams the children looked forward too so much were also reassuringly expensive, as were the banana boat trips and face painting. Even going to the beach came at a near ruinous price, but with the temperature in the eighties and the sand so hot it burned; we had to pay for the loungers and sunshades. We returned home happy, relaxed and hovering somewhere near bankruptcy. Never, we said, will we make that mistake again.
The following year we tried to be realistic. We accepted that ice creams, cold drinks, nice meals and everything else would have to be paid for but planned a way round it. The scheme we ended up with was a simple one. We would head for a country where we knew our money would go farther. That was the year we learned about the exciting world of foreign currency fluctuations, the painful way.
The British pound fell massively just before we flew out of Gatwick and we hadn’t bought our foreign money in advance. The prices that had looked so eye-wateringly cheap had immediately risen by the time we arrived. We put a brave face on it and tried to be sensible-again. We returned home fourteen days later, tanned and once more technically insolvent. Never, ever, we solemnly promised each other, will we do that again.
A chance meeting with some old friends, just after we had returned, showed us the light. What we found out subsequently saved us a small fortune. They told us about all-inclusive holidays. At first, we didn’t believe it. Can it be true; we asked ourselves, that you could buy a holiday package that includes staying in a nice hotel where the price includes all the food, drink and even hotel activities and entertainment? The answer, we discovered the following summer was yes; these wonderful all-in packages do exist.
Our first all-inclusive holiday came crammed with fantastic extras. Delicious three course dinners and cocktails by the pool were included in the price, never mind the ice creams, and the snorkeling. All those special things that can cost so much were there, for the children and us, at no extra price – even snacks were available. We flew back home, tanned, happy, relaxed and for the first time ever financially solvent, post holiday!
Tony Bertin and his family have been finding their all-inclusive holiday packages at www.sovereign.com ever since.