resorts versus backpacking

In Defense of a Little Luxury

“What’s a blog with information on how to travel for free doing writing up all inclusive resorts?” my friend questioned, her lip snarled and eyebrow reaching the “you’re-such-a-hypocrite” level of arch.

Can  a “real traveler” indulge without being thought of as a pampered sell out?

“I love me some all-inclusive packages” I defended.

She crossed her arms, clearly not impressed.

temple tree resort langkawi

Temple Tree Poolside

Not afraid of a little battle, I dove in:
“Imagine backpacking- hardcore backpacking. Not this pre-planned, hostels booked, mom on speed dial traveling style- no.

Sleeping in sketchy places, trading work for a roof over your head, skipping showers more often than not, racing to catch transportation, your back aching from carrying your life months on end. You smell. You’re tired.

Now, imagine laying on a white sandy beach with no more struggles for the day but to decide whether a mojito or piña colada sounds better and if you’re turning over in time to even out that melanoma.”

Delicious, As Expected

Delicious, As Expected

As expected, her face followed the story; wincing with the reality of long-term backpacking. Like the tart juice from the lime makes the sugar of a mojito taste better, the stinky, sweaty months of backpacking make the few days of an all inclusive resort that much more of a treat.

To be perfectly clear, this is not to say that I am in support of all-inclusive resorts as an exclusive means of travel. If all you want to do is lay on a beach and be spoken to in English, it’s probably best to not leave your native country. However, there are times that call for a bit of pampering, relaxation and automation. Let’s break it down.


Everything handed to you on a platter. Yeah, that covers it. Where do I sign?


Whoa, put down your pitchforks. It’s cool that have you kid(s), but I take a lot of precautionary measures in my life to ensure that I don’t. That means when it comes time for me to lay back and soak up some sun, the last thing I want is to hear the shrill shriek of a tantrum-ing toddler. No, thank you.

For this reason I always ensure the hotel has a family-unfriendly policy and recommend you do the same.

Not supporting the local economy.

Most resorts are self contained, eliminating the need for you to step off their property – which is awesome – unless you’re a locally-owned restaurant or bar.

In the interest of fairness, I make it a point to frequent the outside bars and restaurants twice as much before and after my visit. Hard work, but someone’s got to do it!

The Verdict

By being a diverse, dirty, exhausted and smelly backpacking beast, you will truly appreciate every minute (your mom probably paid for) spent relaxing in a clean paradise of alcoholic beverages, beaches, and beds that come with sheets.


There is a time and place for everything, and like mojitos — it’s not socially acceptable / responsible to subsist off resorts alone. What’s your take – a little resort R&R, or hardcore to the bone?

Brandy Bell loves adventuring around the world. She's been a solo female traveler since 2006 and has visited over 25 countries, made countless international friends, and now writes to inspire you to travel in a sustainable and responsible way.

'In Defense of a Little Luxury' have 2 comments

  1. May 1, 2013 @ 8:49 pm Tiffany

    Hey Brandy,

    Thanks for sharing this great post on All-Inclusive resort. However, i will like to also add that Sandals resort make it a point to give back to the community through the Sandals Foundation. It will be great if all other all-inclusive resorts were to follow suit or if they are already doing so, they certainly need to create more awareness to it.
    Thanks for the great post and travel safe!


    • May 2, 2013 @ 12:05 pm brandy bell

      Thank you, Tiffany for the info — I didn’t know Sandals was undertaking such an awesome initiative. Will be reporting back with more info, soon!


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