Recently, a good friend asked me for some travel advice. She wanted to know the best way to island hop in Hawaii. She said the flights were super expensive (as was the entire vacation) and she needed other options. I said, “if Hawaii is getting too expensive, why don’t you go someplace else?”. She said, “we have to go to Hawaii because we have a timeshare and we’ll lose money if we don’t.” Well, that just made me sad. Not because she had to go to Hawaii, obviously. It was because her options for a family vacation were so limited due to owning a timeshare. I know timeshares USED to be all the rage but I didn’t realize people still bought into them. As our conversation came to an end, I wanted to ask…
Are Timeshares Ruining Your Vacations?
After our chat, I did some digging on timeshares and the costs associated with them. What I found wasn’t pretty, or cheap. I’m sure for some, the facts and figures make sense but, to me, they seem very limiting. Several years ago, my husband and I went to a timeshare pitch and they tried awfully hard to get us to buy. They told us how easy and affordable it was, that we’d take more vacations, and they showed us all the “cool” properties we could choose from. As most owners know, those places aren’t always available when you want them. Plus, some of them are out of your price range.
When we said we weren’t interested, they became downright rude and, ultimately, told us to leave. So, why are people so interested in timeshares? Maybe it’s the perceived convenience. Choosing a destination from a network or frequenting a favorite vacation spot takes away the guesswork. Plus, the added benefit of renting out “weeks” if you don’t travel. Possibly, the biggest thing that entices people to buy timeshares is the cost. If you’re not a seasoned traveler, the price is very tempting. Even though a timeshare may cost $100K+, they sell you on the idea that your yearly costs are minimal. I found several properties in Maui and Kona, Hawaii that were roughly $3000 per year. That may seem like a deal but, if you do some research, it really isn’t.
Over the past two years, we barely spent $3000 on vacation rentals and hotels and we visited 10 countries. For example, we spent 5 nights in Madrid and Paris and paid 340€ and 450€ (respectively) for vacation rentals and we took a 3-day cruise to Mexico for $300 which included our room & food! For the occasional traveler or 2-week vacationer, you can spend well under $3000 for your next vacation stay without owning a timeshare. Let’s break down some of the ways timeshares may be ruining your vacations.
5 Reasons Timeshares Might be Ruining Your Vacations:
1. You have to choose your destination from a network: Why limit yourself before you even start planning? Of course, there can be plenty of options within your timeshare network but that doesn’t mean they’ll be available or even interesting when you’re ready to take a vacation.
2. You have to worry about blackout dates: If you don’t have a flexible vacation schedule, this could really ruin your plans. What are your options if your vacation is during blackout dates? My guess is, you’d book a hotel or something which costs you more money in the long run.
3. You have to pay annual increases: Whether you stay or not, you have to pay for those annual increases. It’s better to save that money for your vacation!
4. You have to worry about renting out weeks you don’t use: If you don’t have time to go on vacation this year, you need to rent out your weeks. Good luck finding someone though. With the influx of vacation rentals, timeshares are on the decline so it’s much harder to find a renter.
5. If you don’t go, you still have to pay: If you can’t find someone to rent your timeshare then you’re still on the hook if you don’t go. That’s a huge waste of money!
I’ve given you 5 reasons why timeshares might be ruining your vacations. So, what should you do instead of buying a timeshare? Keep your options open and don’t limit your choices. There are plenty of accommodations out there that aren’t timeshares. For instance, take a look at vacation rentals and see if they interest you. I love the feeling of “living like a local” so they’re always my first choice.
However, hotels are just as good as vacation rentals. Plus, they offer lots of flexibility when choosing a destination and booking your stay. Third-party sites like Booking.com, allow you to “pay now” or “pay later” when you arrive at your destination. They even let you cancel up until a certain date in case your plans change. Whether you book a hotel or vacation rental, your choices aren’t as limited as timeshares. You’re free to choose the closest or most remote parts of the world and plan away.
I don’t claim to be an expert on timeshares, as I don’t own one. However, I know there are better options out there for those who are interested in more affordable accommodations. Luckily, whether you like timeshares or not, there’s something out there for everyone. Lastly, this post is meant to be informative by offering additional options outside of timeshares. It is NOT meant to bash or judge anyone who currently owns or chooses to purchase a timeshare.
Have you used vacation rental sites like Airbnb or VRBO? Do you own a Timeshare? Which do you prefer? Tell me about it in the comments!