Imagine if you will; you and your significant other seated at a Formica table in a large and well-lit room, the rumble of muted conversations surrounding you as you sip a weak mimosa and poke halfheartedly at a stale bran muffin. You glance at your watch as you ponder the question….”so how much money do you think you’ll spend on vacations in the next ten years?” Is that $50 Shell gasoline gift card really worth sitting through yet another time share presentation? Did I mention that my wife plans and runs tours for a living? Do you get the impression that we have been to a few of these presentations? How, you may ask, are these two disparate pieces of information related?
We have been to presentations with both hard and soft selling techniques, we have seen different point/credit/time of year structures, and we have seen facilities both beautiful and ones best referred to as “Trailer Park Villas.” That gift card, walking around money, free breakfast or (kinda) free mini-vacation is usually not worth the price of admission, but the education has been well worth it. That’s where my wife comes in; I couldn’t keep track of all the planning, points and paperwork-but she does so to great effect, and our adventures are the better for it.
The best advice I can give is; if you buy a time share, learn how to use it…and actually use it. Time shares aren’t cheap when purchased directly from the developer (good deals do pop up on the resale market), and if you are paying off a loan it can be the equivalent of another car payment, so the purchase is not one to be taken lightly, and should be researched-like a car purchase. We know people who paid off their entire time share loan without ever once using it. This is where the tour guide magic comes in, creativity.
Nowadays using a time share is usually more flexible than taking the 32nd week of each year to spend time with the family at the Jersey Shore. Today there are services that allow a person to exchange their points or credits at a particular time share for a stay at another, and a weeklong stay is no longer a must. With all of the different locations and scheduling options, creative planning can open up a lot of opportunities.
My personal tour guide has tapped into her super powers; and the results have been fantastic. Here are some of the adventures she has manifested.
1) The regular vacation: She has planned vacations both short and long, both with our personal time share company, and trading outside of it. Walt Disney World, New Orleans, South Carolina, Scottsdale and many others have become available to us, and all we need to pay is a $50 housekeeping fee for a stay that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars.
2) The romantic getaway: We have a few points, let’s stay a night in San Francisco and have a nice dinner. A mini vacation!
3) Drive to Destinations: This is why we originally purchased the time share. There are many locations around the state. No need to book air fare, just hit the road to a nice relaxing getaway.
4) A Family Holiday: A couple of times we’ve booked a suite, in a central location with several rooms and had family members come from far and wide to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. Some people book several rooms and have a family reunion. If several friends or family members own the same timeshare, points can often be combined, so more units can be rented or more time can be spent at the location. The possibilities abound.
5) A Snooze before a Cruise: When we take a cruse we often like to arrive a day or three early. It’s nice to spend time in one of our units rather than a hotel, much cheaper.
6) The Gift of a Vacation: Can’t get away? How about giving your friends a few romantic days in a beautiful location?
7) It can pay for itself: There are times when the number of points or credits in one’s account exceeds the amount of time they can spend away from home. Through an exchange these points or credits can be rented or sold to others so they don’t go to waste, and the owner gets paid!
This article may make you think that I know a lot about the subject, but I’m just sharing what my wife has learned, through her diligence and study. This obviously isn’t an article about running tours, but it is about ways to go on an adventure (and we often take tours when traveling). The creativity, studious mindset, and willingness to think out of the box have made many of our adventures possible, and time sharing is just one way the tour guide in my life has made life fun and interesting.
So I married a Tour Guide and we love sharing our time together.