Travel Accommodations: Timeshare Travel
About five years ago, Drew and I attended a timeshare sales presentation. It wasn’t something we planned on buying and only went to the timeshare sales presentation to get a free vacation and Visa gift card. We actually ended up really liking the company, but weren’t completely convinced. We left that day with purchasing an experience package to be able to really test out timeshare travel first.
How Timeshares Work
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of timeshares, let’s break it down for you a bit. When you buy a timeshare, you are buying a deed to share time with others. Some timeshares are specific vacation locations. Some, like our timeshare, WorldMark, are in many locations. You “share the time” in the timeshare you bought with other people who have also bought time there. How much time you get all depends on how much time or points that you purchased.
Timeshare vacation ownership was born in the 1960s. When you buy into a timeshare, you buy time and you share a vacation property with others. Think of it like buying a vacation rental that you only use a few times a year and others use it and pay their share when you aren’t there.
Our timeshare is based on a points system. These are the most flexible kind of timeshare. You buy a certain number of points that can be used at different types of locations throughout the year. If you want a large apartment suite at peak tourist season, it might cost 1000 points, while a small studio apartment might cost 500 points. This allows owners to alter their vacation plans from year to year and place to place.
You make a down payment and then pay monthly payments until you pay it off, just like if you were to purchase a vacation property. You even get a tax write-off from the interest you pay. Once paid off you pay a low monthly maintenance fee to have someone take care of the property and keep it clean and in good working order. Your timeshare time stays with you for life. When you pass away, you leave it to another.
Experiencing Timeshares before Buying
We used our experience package to visit two of their locations, one on the Oregon Coast and one just outside of Palm Springs. We liked that we could either drive or fly to many locations around the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and more. We loved that there were multiple locations in the Hawaiian Islands.
We also liked that the timeshares had fully stocked kitchens, washer and dryers, comfortable beds, fitness center, swimming pool(s), hot tub(s), patios with BBQs, and were in great locations. Being able to try out the timeshares, at multiple locations, is what really sold them for us. About a year and a half later, we ended up buying into WorldMark.
Our Timeshare Experience
The vast majority of timeshare owners (84%) enjoy their timeshares. We are happy to say we are included in that number. In less than three years, we have stayed in many of our timeshare locations in Gleneden, Palm Springs, Redmond, Anaheim, Kauai, and two different ones on Maui. The Hawaii locations we have stayed at more than once.
I really love that every location we’ve been to has had a pool and hot tub. Some locations have had multiple of each. One even had a lazy river. I prefer swimming in natural bodies of water, but I love those pools and hot tubs for a safe swim at night after dinner.
Cut Back on Food Costs with Timeshares
The kitchens and BBQs always help us to dramatically cut food costs while traveling. When we land on one of the Hawaiian Islands, we head straight to Costco to stock up on food for the week to make at our timeshare. We will eat breakfast every day except our last day at the timeshare, as well as most of our dinners. It ends up costing us less than $200 per week to feed both of us for about 15 meals and drinks.
Many of the timeshares have a schedule of activities and parties. They provide everything from children to adults to participate in. My favorite is the cabana body massages at an amazing price.
In the timeshare lobby, there are always coupons and discounts to places because you are a timeshare owner. Many have a community computer room and a coffee and drink station outside of it. Need beach equipment or beach towels? They provide those, too.
If there are units not occupied, the timeshare company will offer them at a huge discount about two weeks prior. You can pay to stay in these outside of your purchased time for much less than a cheap motel and they include all of the same perks and freebies they would if you used your time.
Timeshare Travel around the World
We know timeshare travel isn’t for everyone, but it has helped us go on many vacations over the past few years that we wouldn’t have had without our timeshare. We also plan to continue to use it on our round the world travels with locations throughout the United States, Canada, Fiji, Mexico, Australia, and SE Asia. We can also use it in countries our timeshare doesn’t have a location by trading with another timeshare company who does.
For us, time share travel has provided us with the opportunity to travel to more places. We’ve been able to stay in places nicer than what we could normally afford and are able to cut costs in other ways through discounts, free washer and dryer, and a kitchen. We always look forward to our next timeshare travel and utilize it as much as we possibly can.
Have you ever used timeshares for travel?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2014.