- I will recognize that "All-Inclusive", for all intents and purposes, means "Largely-Inclusive". Regardless of how much the website and travel agents tell me that tipping is "optional", I will bring a couple hundred bucks in the smallest bills I can find because I don't want to spend all freaking week being the only a-hole standing at the bar dying of thirst while 4 or 5 bartenders somehow manage to not make eye contact with me while I am the only person standing there. I will never again be frustrated by generally appalling service on a trip that cost a couple of thousand dollars just to save a couple of hundred dollars. My principles aren't worth it. Tipping in this case is protecting my investment.
- If I am going to Nair my back (which I really should do; other people have paid to come here and see nature at its finest), I will be fully prepared to itch like a mofo when the hair starts growing back in through my peeling sunburn.
- When I first book my trip, I will do some sort of little upgrade. I will pay the extra $200 to be a member of the "preferred club" or to have a swim-out or an ocean-view or something. The way it works is, nobody pays for all of that stuff, so in order to have enough room for everyone they have to bump some people up. They start bumping by who has already paid the most. Not paying anything extra really hurts my chances at a free upgrade.
- I will use the Do Not Disturb sign. Literally like 7 staff members will come to my room every day. They come to clean the room. They come to bring a paper. They come to stock the mini-bar. They come to stock the coffee and snacks. They come to make sure they didn't miss anything when they stocked the mini-bar. They come to turn down my bed. Oddly, they never seem to come when I am at dinner, or even within 15 minutes of each other. I am on vacation. I may want to... take a nap... or something... that I don't want anyone walking in on. I will use the Do Not Disturb sign. Especially on my birthday.
- I won't spring for the romantic dinner on the beach. It's nice, but not $200 nice, and the food is cooked by the exact same hands that cook the free food. Instead, I will put on some linen pants, order some room service and sit on my ocean-view patio to eat it, then walk down to the beach.
- In certain locales, it is perfectly acceptable (encouraged in fact) to avoid unsightly tan lines. I won't get caught looking and ruin it for everybody.
- I realize I came to an all-inclusive to not spend extra money. That said, taking a day trip to someplace like this might be the highlight of my trip. Not all day trips are worth it (this one was really expensive, but awesome) but I might want to at least LOOK.
- I will spoil myself with a pedicure. I'm not even gonna blame it on my wife. My tootsies deserve it.
- I will leave myself lots of time to check out on the last day, especially if I have charged anything to my room. I recognize that some people will smile at me, tell me my coupons were applied, charge my card in foreign currency, then let me do the math in my head while waiting on my airport shuttle only to realize I was overcharged by like 20% to then have to explain to someone that my coupons really weren't applied and then stand there while my driver (hopefully) looks at his watch while I make everyone late.
Not being one to do all of the work, I've written a few rules for the people I run into when I get back as well.
- When you see me and find out I've been in the tropics. Don't remark on how tan I'm not. You can't expect to overcome years in a cubicle with one week in the sun (under SPF 50 sunscreen).
- Yes, I am aware that is possible to go on vacation and spend approximately 5% what I did. I don't care. I get out about once a decade, and I don't feel like Pricelining my trip and risk ending up in either of these roles.
Hopefully these rules can help you have a great time on your vacation as much as they'll help me. I had a great time, but if I had known then what I know now, it would have been ever better.