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Until recently, timeshares have been the way to go when someone wanted to get a good deal on yearly vacationing, but with the recent rise in discount travel clubs is it still a a smart move? I will compare the two vacation plans and show how discount travel clubs are the better choice for people who want to save on their vacations.
1) Initial costs- Purchase a timeshare at a resort or second hand from the original owner and you will pay anywhere from say $6,500 to $20,000 depending on where your unit is and how good you are at haggling when they try to close on you. Paid either in a lump sum or over time, you now own a week of time at a resort that you can exchange with others looking for something in your area. Let’s go midrange for a buying price of $13,250.
If you joined a discount travel club, you paid somewhere between $199 and $500 to get access to vacations around the world… Gotta give that win to the vacation club for a more affordable initial price.
2) Recurring costs- According to memorable-beach-vacations.com, ownership has its privileges because you now are responsible for ongoing maintenance fees, upkeep, furniture and appliances, roof and pool replacement, and of course insurance and property taxes. We’ll use their figures for time share resorts in Virginia Beach, which they found range from $390-$550 a year, and use a midrange figure of $475 a year. This annual fee would be adjusted for inflation and probably increase over time. Your total annual timeshare costs over 10 years, barring any roof or pool rework, is $4,750. If you trade for other units around the world, there are other costs involved that vary from group to group, so it would be hard to determine the exact costs other than to say they would be at least several hundred dollars more expensive a year.
Monthly fees vary between vacation clubs, so we will use World Ventures number for accuracy. Lets say you liked the presentation and went with the most expensive package that makes you a representative. You would pay $59.93 a month for an annual rate of $719.16, but there is a way to not have any monthly fee by bringing in four people who buy any package that is offered. So if you know four friends who like to travel and join the club, you’ve just erased your annual costs! That is something to consider, but let’s pay the monthly fee for the sake of the exercise.
Over 10 years, club costs are $7,191.60. There are no additional costs for staying at resorts or hotels around the world, but vacation packages are bought in bulk and offered to the members at cost. Other advantages with travel clubs include discounted rates for air travel, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and travel insurance that can be used any time of year as many times as you need. There is even concierge service which you can use anywhere and anytime to get information on just about anything you need while home or abroad. I’ll give this one to the timeshare with an asterisk just using the base numbers, but there is more value built into the vacation club membership.
3) Variety of vacation experience- Timeshares give you the same vacation every year staying in the same unit or a similar one every time and swapping is only available at participating resorts in their network.
Travel clubs offer you many different experiences all over the world- you don’t have to repeat the same trip twice (unless you want to). Over 60,000 vacation and rental properties available in over 160 destinations. World Ventures even has a program called DreamTrips where all the reservations and planning are taken care of for you. You have your choice of event, cruise, sport, or theme packages at deeply discounted prices- examples from 2009 include a Cozumel cruise, 5 day/4 night for $179 per person including taxes and fees, trip to Madrid, Spain for $150 per person taxes included, and so on. Get lodging and tickets to the Masters, the final four, even the World Cup in South Africa for hundreds less than you can find online. The vacation club gets this vote easily.
So while the timeshare won the recurring cost section with a handicap, the best overall bargain is the travel club membership for its low initial cost, variety of vacation experiences offered, and the abilities to save on all travel expenses and make money by becoming a representative. The numbers aren’t exact, but do represent a fair comparison between the two vacation choices.