Can a Solo Traveller Survive in an All-Inclusive Resort?

All-inclusive resorts have so often been written off by solo travellers, and it’s not hard to understand why. Resorts are set up for couples, honeymooners, and families but rarely do they cater to the individual. Solo travellers are neglected by the hotels throughout the luxury travel world not because of any sort of discrimination, but because, quite simply, it is rare for people to travel alone, especially to a luxury location. However, does that mean that all-inclusive luxury resorts should be avoided by solo travellers? Is there something that the solo traveller can gain from the resort experience?

All-Inclusive Resort

Sandals Montego Bay

On arrival to the RIU Montego Bay resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica the first thing that I noticed was that I was alone, and I may have been the only one. The check-in line was full of couples, the restaurant tables were filled by families laughing or couples enjoying romantic meals, and the swimming pool bar was lined by people arm in arm. Shielded by their comfortable social circles, the people at all of these locations could have been completely blind to those around them, unaware of anyone else.

All-Inclusive Resort

Solo Reader

All-inclusive resorts are a buzz of activity, there are shows, a handful of bustling bars and a number of planned activities. However, going to a show and watching as couples cuddle, or swimming up to the bar alone just isn’t the same is it? To save ourselves the embarrassment of being alone in the land of couples we so often stick to our rooms playing with the mini-bar as we try to tell ourselves that drinking alone in our rooms doesn’t necessarily make us alcoholics.

All-Inclusive Resort Swim-up Bar

RIU Montego Bay swim-up bar

Sure one could easily go lay on the beach soaking in the Caribbean sun to try and earn a tan that would make your friends back home jealous, but for those of us who lack attention laying in the sun for more than 5 minutes is just painful. The average solo traveller is more likely to take 5 showers a day just to kill the time than sit on the beach for more than 10 minutes at a time. So how can a solo traveller survive in this couples jungle?

RIU Montego Bay

RIU Montego Bay

The truth is that, like anything, staying at a resort is what you make of it. Sure one can wander around the hotel grounds feeling sorry for them self wondering why they are alone. But one should rather take this experience as an opportunity to grow, not only as a traveller but as a person. Instead of watching a couple para-sail arm in arm and wish you had someone to do it with, get on the boat and do it alone. Instead of feeling like you’re alone at the swim-up bar, make friends with the bartender and those around you.

All-Inclusive Resort Pool

RIU Montego Bay pool

At the end of the day every uncomfortable situation we are faced with, not only while travelling but in everyday life, should be seen as an opportunity to build our own character. We are faced with these challenges of self-assurance each and every day in a variety of situations. We can chose to turn our backs on the challenges and sit in our rooms in the comfort of a gin and tonic, or we can face them head on and prove to ourselves that the world, or the all-inclusive resort, isn’t really too scary after all.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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17 Comments

  1. Nice insights here ๐Ÿ˜€ I then remember the time I got stuck in a leisure resort here in the Philippines since I arrived earlier than my relatives. The fact that families and couples are happily bonding in the pool, resto, side etc can be a bit intimidating, but you know what i did? I tried to talk to the F&B Asst. Manager and asked him how it is to work in such wonderful place and about the workload. I learned more from him and he was able to narrate some sacrifices he had to do just to stay in the job. I agree with you that it all matters to you on how you’d enjoy that trip or make it worthwhile.

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  2. I was actually thinking of trying this during winter break. However, I never considered that it might be more difficult to meet people here than at a hostel because everyone is locked up in their own social circles like you said.

    Are there specific resorts that cater to a younger crowd that is more likely to socialize at the bar?

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    • @Alex – There are actually a lot of singles resorts in the Caribbean, but the problem with them is they are mostly “look to hook up and meet someone” resorts. It is worth giving one of them a shot though. Tweet the Jamaican Tourism Board at @askjamaica and I’m sure they can tell you about a resort there that caters to the solo traveller.

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  3. Nice perspective. I agree with you, there are many singles places but as you said they try to fix u up with somebody.
    But being a solo female traveller myself, I know it is easy to survive in this crowded world. Sometimes you might feel like odd man out but it’s okay to feel that way.

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  4. Why not try to get to know someone, meet new people, even though they are couples, many of them may not be as self absorbed as it may seem.

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    • @Greg – That’s what I imply in the last couple paragraphs…

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  5. I enjoyed the read. Knew I would, so I saved it for my breakfast break!

    Solo travel is something I’ve been doing and struggling with (on and off) for a few years. I really need to get the things I’ve written about that into one place so I can share them.

    I’m female, single and love many aspects of taking a holiday alone. I’m also outgoing, friendly etc. It can still be a minefield trying to meet people, even for a casual chat.

    Lone males sometimes take it as a come on, and couple – well that can go either way.

    I’ve met some fabulous people this way but it definitely isn’t always easy.

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  6. Good article! Solo travel can be tough, but meeting the challenge and getting beyond it is part of the adventure. PS – I think the photo of the Sandals resort at the top of your article is of the private island at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort (not Sandals Montego Bay).

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  7. Indeed, attitude is everything. Solo travel can be hard at times, but the unmatched solitude and introspective thinking is a reward in itself.

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  8. Great article! I think solo travelers for the most part are adventurous and social. Most of the ones I have encountered seem up for anything and have no problem chatting up, and hanging out with strangers. A few things that most people would find super uncomfortable to do by themselves like going to a show or dancing at the club are things that other people would do without even blinking. If you aren’t comfortable at an all-inclusive resort as a solo traveler, you probably aren’t going to feel at home in a lot of places. With that said, all-inclusives are good spots to do water aerobics and other group activities that are pretty easy for even shy people to get involved in.

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  9. Great idea making friends with the bartender. Once you have made friends with the bartender you will surely make friends with others around you. This is usually how it works with me.

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    • @Ted – It’s always a smart move making friends with those who control the alcohol.

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  10. Excellent write up with some wise words – travelling all- in and solo to Egypt in Aug!

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  11. I really liked this article. Having just returned from my first solo trip I read this article multiple times during the week and it really inspired me to get out and do things rather than sit alone in my room. I ended up befriending a large group of people who were travelling together (and on both of my flights!). Solo travel can be daunting especially since I am admittantly shy until I feel comfortable with the people around me. If anything being on your own is great because you can do whatever you want and do it when you want. Going alone is not my first choice but should I do it again I feel this article will have been a great help. Thanks Brendan!

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    • Dude, glad to hear it! Now, remember to bring what you leaved (the confidence) back home with you! After my first solo trip, I came back and my friends would laugh at me because I would befriend the entire bar. You become a much stronger person from forcing yourself out of your room and meeting people. Good for you mate!

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  12. Great read, though I’m late to the party I’m going away next week alone. Friends are all busy and I fancy a get away. In my last holiday me and a friend met some people and had a blast. I’m in the hope I can be as confident on my own. Really looking forward to it and this post has inspired me!

    Thanks

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  13. I have been to MANY resorts by myself, and it varies.

    I don’t always have a girlfriend and my friends rarely have ANY money, and I live in Canada, so going alone sometimes sounds like a huge pain. Here is the run-down the author did not actually go through. Mind you, I am latin american, VERY social and love people. But still, there are some hurdle but many advantages.

    1. ADV: The moment you realize that you are far away in a beautiful place and have NO ONE to answer to, you feel happy you are there (if you chose correctly). But, common, see online, its not that hard.

    2. ADV: As yours (my) pasty, exhausted, overworked, under cared for, person starts to chill, relax, soak in the sun and sleep etc, you realize that you needed to get away. If not, it would not be a hard decision to make.

    3. DIS: After the first day or two you unwind and then you are like, hmm.. everyone is in a group/couple whatever. That sucks, but then you also need to be clear on what you want. To be clear, if you want to get laid in the sand and “join in on the hedonism”, maybe start by not choosing a super family friendly place, no? Its pretty straight forward.

    4. AD/DIS: Be clear that you are ok with not being with other people, but have stuff to do! I go alone but to rock climb (ok, no all inclusive for that), but scuba dive etc. Its really expensive, so be careful, but have a reason other than “i might get laid” or “things will come my way” but, instead, a reason why you chose that hotel vs the other.

    5. DIS. Eating in these organized DINNERs is a giant pain in the ass by yourself. I do not pity myself, but it is a pain in the ass for dinner.

    6. ADV: Most people leave and come so fast that they never see you that many times.. its in YOUR head!! They really DO NOT CARE

    7. ADV: On the staying in the room drinking, ok, I can relate. BUT, if you are not an alcoholic (big BUT), some drinks will help you mingle, anyways. Also, I never took millions of showers, just great ones after scuba diving, an activity where you meet many people.

    8. ADV: NOBODY lives there. So, they don’t know or care what’s up. People/families/couples/…dare I say SINGLES, etc go for their own reasons but, ultimately, this is about MONEY!

    This is very important. If you want the convenience of an all-in., and the PRICE, hey, why do you think they are there? BUT, do not expect to meet all around adventurous spirits everywhere. Its not a hostel, as was pointed out. I have travelled A LOT.Its not like the bar at some random hostel in Asia. Its an expensive place where you have to do NOTHING. So if you like doing nothing, that is a great place. But If you have some conflict, its the price/relaxation but good great hostel vibe, AS WELL. Can’t have it all.

    My view, to sum up (I guess could be its own blog), is that you cannot have it both ways. Want to meet people non-stop? Stay at an interesting place, where maybe the beach is not in front of you but not far, but also you don’t have servants doing everything for you.

    Want the super lux experience but also want to hang out with cool people? Sure, I do, I work really hard. BUT, recognize that most people there are not in that vibe. They really JUST know this type of travel, which can be great!

    But go someplace for an activity and a purpose. If you want to get away, sleep, tan, do nothing, then go to the All-Inclusive (maybe adults only) that you like or hits your price point.

    But if after 2 days you really want is to meet singles, have fun, travel a bit, hey, you can do that too! But you have to get up and do it. And you may find that you save TONS of money if the 24/7 beach-bikini-men staring is not for you. Then what? stay at a place in the city that is not all inclusive and you will save A LOT.

    I think the problem with the setup is that single travellers (ok, not all, but most) want have it all. Basically, I think people (myself included) want an ALL-Inclusive that provides non-BS travel experience, a possibility to meet people and potential lovers, and also not have nt move a square inchโ€ฆ.

    They have those, but its disgusting prostitution.

    I think most people want comfort and excitement. But the FUN part is the trip, whether its being uncomfortable at the all inclusive or being less attended to but figuring it out (the BEST part of traveling for me), through locals/other travellers.

    Don’t fool yourself. Just chose and relax, its your vacation and these places ONLY care about $$, not you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Good luck!!

    SJ

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