Buy a Timeshare You Will Use
First off, most people who own multiple vacation properties agree that the best timeshares to own are timeshares that you are going to use. While the exchange programs such as RCItravel and Interval International (and all the independent ones) are great, buying a timeshare to exchange isn’t usually the most cost effective way of using timeshares to vacation. By the time you add up the membership fees and exchange fees, it can cost you quite a bit more than you were expecting to take advantage of your exchange opportunities.
Buy Close to Home
So the best bet is to buy a timeshare that you will want to visit. Related to that tip is the idea that you should buy a timeshare that’s within a day’s drive of your own home. And I’m not talking a 16 hour day here or a marathon 24 hour drive with no sleep. Nope! I think you should plan on an eight hour drive at most. Even that is a long day for most people, but with breaks at is quite manageable and safe.
The reason other owners recommend that the best timeshare to own is within an eight hour drive is so that you still have a way to take a vacation even if airfares go up, or if you find you suddenly can’t take a whole week off work. You should still be able to get away at least for a few days around the weekend.
Also, you are just more likely to use a timeshare close to home and it is a great way to force yourself to take a vacation every year if you are the Type A kinda personality that things all work and no play is an okay way to live. It isn’t! Everyone needs a break and some time for themselves and their family and timeshares offer a great way to provide that for yourself. While timeshares are not a financial investment, they are an investment in your leisure time and I think its worth it, especially when you can pick up a great deal at a timeshare auction.
Do you never vacation close to home? If you live in New England, but never visit Cape Cod, the White Mountains and/or the New Hampshire beaches, then it really does make no sense to buy in those locations, even if they are close to home. So get ready for the next piece of advice.
Buy where you usually vacation
If you make a point of going to Disney World or Hawaii every year, then buying a Disney timeshare, or a timeshare in Hawaii probably makes a lot of sense. What doesn’t make sense is buying a timeshare in Hawaii on that once in a lifetime trip. So be careful at any timeshare presentations you attend on your magical vacation. If you don’t think you’ll be returning next year, the year after that and the year after that, and so on for the next 10 years at least, then please think twice about buying at timeshare in Hawaii, unless you LIVE in Hawaii. Since you can’t fly there from the continental US, it doesn’t meet our 8 hour drive criteria for most people.
The same goes for if you only visit Disney World every several years, or if this is your first trip there. I wouldn’t buy at timeshare in a particular location unless I had already been there a few years in a row, just so I would know I was committed to that destination and unlikely to get bored with it.
Yes, you can use the exchange companies to exchange to different destinations, and everyone should be able to take advantage of that opportunity occasionally. But if you find yourself having to exchange your one and only timeshare every year because you have no plans to go to Hawaii, then it is likely that you will soon get tired of the hassle and may even stop taking your vacations because exchanging consumes both time and money. And that will mean your timeshare purchase has simply gone to waste.
What if you travel to different destinations every year?
Okay, so let’s say you like to travel and see different places. For the most part, you don’t like to go to the same resort every year. You want to experience something new. In that case, then I think your best bet will be to consider one of the timeshare points programs.
In fact, I think this is a great option even if you do vacation at the same destination each year because most of these programs allow you the flexibility of varying your destination and travel dates without having to join an exchange program.
There are several timeshare points programs — Wyndham, Worldmark, RCI, Bluegreen and Marriott all offer ways in which you can travel to different destinations.
Worldmark is a pure points program, which means that your Worldmark credits are not tied to a particular resort. But for the most part, the other programs do have a “home resort” preference which you will want to take advantage of if you have a preferred vacation spot.
For instance, if you do go to Disney World every year, you might want to look at buying Wyndham’s Bonnet Creek Resort, which is actually located on Disney property. That way you can use the advance reservation priority to book your vacation 13 months in advance, or you can use your Wyndham points to travel anywhere else you like in Wyndham’s resort inventory at the 10 month reservation window.
Wyndham timeshares also happen to be a great resale deal as well, so if you take a look at the resort locations and see that they have resorts in destinations you’d like to visit, then I think you should put them near the top of your list.
The other timeshare points programs all work pretty well too, but before deciding which one to plunk down your money on, it is a very good idea to check their destinations. Worldmark is strong in the Pacific region, particularly California. Bluegreen resorts are mostly located in the southeast. In a few days I’ll put together an overview of the different points programs so you can figure out what is going to be the best points timeshare for you.