When you search for a holiday online, you’ll have to make a number of choices about your flights and where you want to stay. However, one of the biggest choices will be the board basis you choose for your stay. Nowadays, many holidays offer all-inclusive or full board options, which means all your meals, and sometimes all your drinks, are included in the price. While it can be a tempting option, it’s very easy to get bored on this type of holiday, so here are some reasons why it’s worth opting for self-catering.
It’s Likely to Work Out Cheaper
An all-inclusive holiday will often seem like good value for money, as although the cost is higher, you won’t need to worry about food or drink during your stay. However, a survey that pitted these holidays against self-catering stays showed that in many areas, self-catering holidays work out cheaper, even if you go out for lunch and dinner, as it’s often cheap to dine out abroad. If you’re the sort of traveller who likes to go to local supermarkets and will pack lunches and eat dinner at home, then the savings are even higher.
You Get a Better Variety of Food or Drink
Even if you stay in a huge resort with multiple restaurants, when you go all-inclusive, you’re likely to become quite bored of the food by the end of your stay. The problem is, these resorts have to cater for crowds, so a lot of the food is batch cooked and not really authentic. If you stay a second week, it gets worse, as they may serve the same menu as your first week! The most popular destinations for British people are often those with the best cuisine too. For example, Italy has the world’s most popular cuisine, so if you go to Italy, do you really want to limit yourself to one restaurant?
The free alcohol is often a big draw when it comes to an all-inclusive, but again, it’s not always the best quality. You can usually get better wine for a few euros a bottle in the local supermarket, so unless you’re drinking day and night, it still becomes expensive.
You Can Try Some Adventurous Cooking
If you’re someone who loves cooking and eating, then it’s worth looking at self-catering holidays, as you can shop locally and dine authentically. For example, if you stay in villas in Coral Bay in Cyprus, there is a seafood market just a short drive down the coast where you can buy freshly caught prawns for the BBQ or local favourites like calamari or sea bass. Stay in an all-inclusive and you’ve got limited choices, plus you don’t always get the best food the area has to offer, which is a shame when you go to a destination like Greece which is famed for its cuisine.
You Eat When You Want to Eat
Self-catering holidays are often aimed at families, especially those with young children who need to eat first thing in the morning and have early dinner times. There’s nothing more annoying than having a hungry small child and nowhere to get them a snack. However, self-catering is good for anyone who doesn’t want their mealtimes dictated. Fancy a lie-in? No problem, you can get up whenever you like and enjoy coffee and pastries. Like to linger over dinner? You can sit on the terrace with a glass of wine for hours, without an impatient waiter wanting to clean your table. Perhaps the best part of self-catering is not having to rush around and deal with inconvenient meal timings.
There’s No Queue
Even those who swear by all-inclusive holidays will admit that the queues can be annoying. Many meals are served buffet style, so you have to queue for a table, then join a queue for drinks and one for your meal — it gets tiresome. At least if you self-cater, you can all sit up at the table in your villa and eat at a more civilised pace, without constantly getting up and down for top-ups.
It’s Easier to Cater for Allergies
In the UK, there are estimated to be about 20% of people who live with food allergies, so that’s a lot of travellers who need to worry about what they’ll eat when they go overseas. The UK tends to be very strict about food labelling — as do most EU countries — but when you go to certain parts of the world, they don’t have the same sort of knowledge of allergies and intolerances. If you decide to go all-inclusive, you should let the hotel know as far in advance as possible if you have allergies or follow a restrictive diet for other reasons. However, self-catering may be an easier option, as you can take some of your own food with you, then buy fresh produce locally.
It’s Easier to Feed the Kids
Nothing is worse than turning up to a resort and going to the buffet, only to find your kids don’t want to eat anything other than chips and garlic bread. Fussy eaters can be a nightmare when travelling, but it can also be a good opportunity to introduce new foods to your child. If you go on a self-catering holiday, you can strike a balance at mealtimes between things they like at home and local foods, and hopefully they’ll try some of the new cuisine and broaden their horizons a little.
Whether you’re a couple, family or group travelling together, there are many reasons to choose a self-catering stay. While it’s tempting to book an all-inclusive and have everything organised for you, they often don’t offer the best value for money, so even if you eat out a lot, self-catering can come out the cheapest. Whether you have people with allergies, food restrictions, or kids who eat at strange times, self-catering offers a lot more flexibility, so you aren’t stuck living on chips or dealing with kids complaining that they’re hungry. Shopping locally and cooking local cuisine gives you a more authentic experience in the country, ensuring it’s a holiday you won’t forget.