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I Want To Travel More, Should I Buy A Timeshare?
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I Want to Travel More, Should I Buy A Timeshare?

I grew up with 11 brothers and sisters.

Family vacations were an adventure to say the least. Looking back, it's a wonder my parents were brave enough to even attempt them in the first place.

But looking back years later, it's crazy how many details I can remember from those vacations...

Sleeping in the back seat of the Chevy Suburban knowing that Dad could drive all night without getting tired (right, dad?) Nights in front of the fireplace at the cabin in the mountains cooking s'mores. Family ski vacations, Sea World, Disneyland...

They truly were some of the best memories I had growing up.

My wife grew up in a family that loved to take annual vacations as well. Now that we have 3 kids of our own (11, 6, 4), we're starting to want to take more vacations to create the same type of memories as we enjoyed.

My wife's brother is one of the top timeshare agents in the entire Western United States. We used a timeshare vacation for part of our honeymoon and my wife's parents still own their timeshare in Louisiana, so we started to look into it to see if it was for us.

It seemed like a great way to vacation- staying at a nice resort instead of a cramped hotel room trying to pretend your bed was also a couch for a week. Plus, we found out that people spent almost $5 Billion on timeshare in 2010 alone, so they must be on to something, right?

I asked my brother-in-law to put together a decent "starter package" for us. Here's what he came up with:

- 1 week of vacation per year at a cost of $16,000. (This is the industry average for a timeshare purchase as of 2011)

- 14-15% interest

- $216/month for 10 years

- $700/year in annual maintenance fees

So here's how the math worked out. After the 10 years was up, we'd have paid about $26,000 in total payments for 1 week of vacation per year, and we'd still have the $700+/year in annual maintenance fees for life whether we traveled or not.

Then it got complicated- point systems, exchanging properties, "floating" weeks, etc.

I started having second thoughts. We were looking for a better way to travel to avoid all the headaches of cramped hotel rooms and Expedia, yet it seemed like even with timeshare there were still going to be a lot of head-aches... just different kinds.

Uggghhh... All I wanted to do was take my family to Disneyland without breaking the bank, without spending hours online hoping I found a decent deal and without feeling like I'd need another vacation from my "vacation".

About that time, I talked to a good friend of mine who had 4 kids of his own, but still managed to go on 3-4 vacations a year with his family while staying at nice resorts. I figured he must own a timeshare or something similar.

I asked him, "Spill it Mark, how the heck do you do it?"

He basically showed me how I could own my own private "vacation home", on all the nice properties, in all the great locations of the world... hassle-free. (at a fraction of the cost of timeshare ownership with ZERO of the hassles and headaches..)

Talking to him turned out to be a great decision.

We already have our next 2 vacations planned for this year, including Disneyland. The other trip will be just for my wife and I... Hey, we're allowed :)

Timeshare ownership may work for some, but it wasn't a good fit for us.

The key to any type of vacation is to make it as "hassle-free" as possible. After all, we go on vacation to get rid of stress, not to add more stress to our lives, right?

However you decide to vacation, understand what you're getting into. Know the pros and cons. Know your "exit strategy" if you need one. I've seen a lot of timeshare owners feeling "stuck" after not reading all the fine-print. By the same token, others are absolutely thrilled with it. It's simply a matter of knowing what you're doing from the get-go.

Whatever you do, go on vacations more often with your loved one, your spouse, or your kids! Life's too short not to. The world's too big not to discover! Find a way. With the right approach, it's a lot more "do-able" than you may have thought!

Street Talk

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