by “Go-To Global Gal” Alyce; photo credits: Alyce Howard


I hope this final, candid piece, reflecting on my stay at an all-inclusive resort, gives you some new insights into resort vacationing. Even more, I hope it will help you as you consider where you want to go on your next trip or vacation! (If you didn’t read Pt.1, make sure you read it here first!)

The things I enjoyed:

The truth is, I enjoyed a LOT of things about staying at a resort with an all-inclusive package! I mean, who doesn’t like
gorgeous blue waters, cerulean skies, white sand beaches, beautiful landscaping, delicious food, friendly staff, and a comfortable place to sleep?

The seafood restaurant on the beach.

  • The food was great.
  • The accommodations were without reproach—clean, aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable. At every level, the staff—whether they were part of the wait staff, room service, bellboys, concierge, or guides and translators—was warm and helpful. They worked incredibly hard to make sure that everyone felt welcome and was having the best time possible.
  • The resort itself was a beautifully designed oasis of paradise.
  • The activities were diverse–there was something for everyone and for whatever mood struck:
    • In the mood to lounge by the pool with a good book and refreshing cocktail? No problem.
    • Want to do Zumba on the beach? Join their Zumba instructor twice a day for class at the beach. (Bonus: A beach workout is certainly visibly pleasing, but more importantly it also made for a more intense workout because of the shifting sands. Definitely a great way to work off some of those extra calories from all the fine dining!)
    • Sign up for the bike tour or the Spanish lesson—available every morning during your stay.
    • Check out a kayak and paddle out on the waves, or take the free scuba lesson offered twice a day in the pool. Water aerobics? Snorkeling? They’ve got you covered.
    • Hungry? You have your choice of American, French, Italian, seafood, and even a buffet that offers just about anything you could want.
    • And if the activities at the resort aren’t enough, they have tour groups that they work with to provide things like dolphin encounters, marine and cultural excursions, and zip lining.

In conclusion, my overall experience was terrific. We wanted for nothing and I cannot give anything but praise to the resort and all the wonderful people that made sure everything ran smoothly. If you’re looking for a vacation that gives you a break from the stress of “every day,” life, or concerns about overspending while your vacationing, a stay at an all-inclusive resort can really be a blissful break from “reality.”


Walking around the resort…

The friendly flamingos provided a lot of in-house entertainment at Dreams Resort Punta Cana.








The things I found challenging or that made me a little uncomfortable:

  1. Staying inside “the bubble”—feeling like I couldn’t go out and connect with the locals.

Windsurfing, kayaks, snorkeling, and banana boat rides down at the resort beach…

This was my first time staying at a resort. It was also my first time traveling abroad with someone else—I’ve always done it alone in the past. Even when I was 17, I got on a plane by myself and flew to Japan (But don’t worry, I did have a destination that involved a wonderful family I stayed with during my month-long visit!). I’ve visited and lived in three different countries in Asia where English was not the primary language, but I was able to speak, at the very least, basic and conversational levels of the local language before (or shortly after) I arrived. Ironically, it was in traveling to a predominately Spanish-speaking country, so close to the US, where I had my first experience being in a foreign country where the language was a real barrier.

So, in a lot of ways, and on a lot of levels this was an entirely new experience for me. And I’m incredibly glad—because to me travel is a chance to learn and grow and expand my horizons—one experience at a time.

That being said, though, usually when I’ve gone abroad one of my major goals is to integrate myself into the local community, to have contact with locals, and to meet people outside of the “foreigner” bubble (the phenomenon that occurs when foreigners abroad tend to band together, creating a mini-community within the larger, local culture). I try to improve my language skills. I explore; I go to new places by myself, and even “get lost” and find interesting shops and restaurants and parks. I’m used to being independent and digging into a new culture and feeling safe while I do so.

Unfortunately, there are certain places where—particularly as a young woman—it’s just not so safe, or so smart, to go off exploring by yourself. Not every country is extremely safe, and as much as we wish that wasn’t the case, as travelers, we do have to pay attention to political climates and current incidents in the destination area, and make decisions accordingly. Overwhelming, when researching safety issues in the Dominican Republic, there were a number of things in the news that made it clear that my trip there would be very different. I realized that I would probably need to stay on the resort as much as possible; that it wasn’t such a good idea for a

The resort had a pool that stretched from one end to the other—almost all the way down to the beach!

young woman (especially one who didn’t speak the local language) to go off and explore the local towns and beaches independently. There was a definite sense after we got there, as well, of needing to “stay in the bubble.” And though I understood it, and respected the facts, it was hard for me to swallow.


I discovered that I don’t like those kinds of restrictions. I don’t like it when I can’t be independent, when I can’t go and “get lost” and find my way to a hidden restaurant that you won’t find in any tourist guide. Staying at the resort, for the first time in my life made me feel like a true tourist, and I prefer—for myself—to feel like a traveler. And yes, I would argue that there’s a difference between the two, though I think there’s a time and a place for both. Being a tourist can be more relaxing, less confusing or stressful, and fun, but it can lead to experiences that hide the truth to things or only “scratch the surface.” Being a traveler can be messy, scary, and overwhelming at times, but in my experience it leads to a much deeper, enriching experience. You grow because it pushes you; it challenges you.


  1. Not taking care of myself.

The peacocks that wandered around the resort and joined people on their balconies or at the pool were a lot of fun…

Again, I took my first trip overseas at age 17. I moved to Japan for a year as an exchange student when I was 20. After grad school I moved to Taiwan to teach English (age 24) and then, when I was 25, I moved and taught English in South Korea. Now there was a bit of a support system in place—I had a school or a job set-up before I moved, and they helped with things like finding housing, and getting set up with utilities, local bank accounts, and cell phones. But overall, I had to take care of myself. I had to learn how to get around, how to buy food, how to communicate with the locals, how to deal with misunderstandings or conflict. I didn’t have anyone organizing activities for me, telling me what to do or where to go. I was fairly self-sufficient.


What my stay at the resort taught me was that I’ve not only become used to independence when I travel, but that I prefer it. It was a new experience being somewhere where there was an itinerary. Granted, it was loose, but there was still a schedule that included things like a welcome dinner, ½-day marine excursion, and a farewell dinner, and the staff was responsible for carting the whole group of people around the island. They handled everything—they organized the dinners, organized the transportation, the airplane tickets, the tourist visas, our luggage, and even the entire marine excursion from start to finish was controlled and vetted by employees and partners of the resort. Everything.

I often felt like I was a part of a clowder of cats being shuttled back and forth—or a gaggle of ducklings following the mama duck. I didn’t have to think, I didn’t have to figure things out. And oddly enough, that bothered me because it was

The koi fish and flamingo pond at night…

so opposite to what I usually have to do. It chafed in a weird way that took me a few days to really comprehend—it was such a subconscious niggling of discomfort. And once it did dawn on me, I realized something about myself: I like a bit of a challenge. I crave independence and a lack of concrete plans and agendas. But, before this trip I hadn’t


realized that about myself, to the degree that I now do.

That being said though, I can understand the appeal of something like an all-inclusive resort. If you really want to be able to relax, it’s a great way to travel and do things. If you’re interested in traveling, but aren’t sure you’re ready to go off on your own and risk blazing your own path in a foreign country, this is a great way to get started. It’s really all about your personal preferences and what kind of trip you’re looking for at the moment.

Would I stay at a resort again? Absolutely, though I’d probably try to find one in a location where I felt like it would be totally safe to leave the boundaries of the resort. I think I would have been a lot happier if I had felt like I had the option. Having that choice would be worth everything to me.



  1. The language barrier.

This—as someone with a masters in Foreign Language Education, with a major in Japanese, and having also studied Chinese, Korean, and Hindi—probably bothered me the most. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t communicate in Spanish. I was defeated by Spanish—one of the most commonly taught second-languages in most U.S. public schools!

Fourteen years ago, I took Spanish in high school. I was good at it and I liked it, but I decided to move on to Asian languages and, over the years, I forgot everything I learned in high school (that can happen when you go on to study four other languages!). I live in San Diego now, where you can hear Spanish almost as much as English (which I love) but I still can’t speak Spanish.

Now, I can do greetings. I can ask where the bathroom is. But beyond that? Not a whole lot. And I wish that wasn’t the case.

In the Dominican Republic, English doesn’t seem to be widely spoken with much fluency. Of course, English is not their primary language, so I don’t expect the locals to speak my language. I feel I should try to speak theirs. That’s always been my motto and when I moved to Japan, I was fine because I was a Japanese major. Taiwan? No problem. I studied Chinese in college for a while so I could handle the basics and chat with people in Chinese. South Korea? I took a free language class and in less than two months was able to communicate on a basic, everyday level.

So this was a first for me: traveling to a country where I knew I wouldn’t be able to communicate with the locals. But I’m truly so glad I did it! It helped give me a better understanding of what it’s like for most people when they travel to a country where a different language is spoken. The language barrier did cause some confusion—there were instances where it was hard to communicate, but overall I think people did pretty well. And I think the visitors may have been surprised by how well they did—despite the lack of language skills on both sides. I think an experience like this in a controlled, safe environment might help beginning travelers feel a bit better about future travel to countries where the locals don’t speak their language. It’s amazing how much you can communicate through body language, gestures, and pantomiming.

So, if you’re afraid of the language barrier, a stay at a resort may be a good way to “get your feet wet” so to speak— a way to build up your confidence in an environment where there’s less potential for serious issues caused by a lack of communication.


Does resort vacationing sound like something you’d like to try? Maybe this seems like the perfect kind of vacation or trip, or maybe you’re in need of some serious R&R. But what’s holding you back? Are you worried that a stay at an all-inclusive might be outside of your budget, or beyond your reach? Well, you might be surprised—sometimes you can find really incredible deals on resorts, luxury cruises, and other types of travel that have a reputation for being “out of reach” for the masses.

Want to learn how you can find these deals and get access to vacations and trips that might usually be too expensive? Keep an eye out for Chief Global Gal Brenda’s upcoming  “Tips to Save Big $$ on Your Next Trip” webinar—available soon in the Global Gals shop! Brenda will be sharing some of the tips she’s used to travel in luxury, stay at all-inclusive resorts at a fraction of the usual cost, and more!

Even better, if you’re a Global Gals Learner or Explorer customer, February’s webinar is “How to Get a $20K Luxury Trip for Less than $5K”. Keep an eye out for this webinar, which will be delivered to you via email later this month! You’ll learn how you can travel in style without emptying your savings account! (Not a Global Gals Learner or Explorer? No problem, sign up today to get access to 12 months of educational travel webinars and podcasts along with other great bonuses! Learn more here!)