Vacation ownership. To some, that phrase means little but to those who have ever had any experience with a timeshare it can elicit excitement and dread in equal measure. In theory owning a timeshare seems great, you have access to a beautiful condo near your favorite vacation destination that you can use once or multiple times a year without high out of pocket expenses. In practice, however, the prospect can seem daunting and not worth the hassle. Could there be something better?

In most cases, when you buy into a timeshare you can choose your home resort. The home resort is the property that you will have priority for scheduling (if you have not purchased the fixed week option) over all other members and guests. Whereas someone who does not have ownership in that specific resort cannot book until 6 to 10 months prior to their arrival date, a person with the home resort priority can often book 11 to 12 months in advance, ensuring that they get the dates and room type they prefer. Want to always spend the 4th of July or Labor Day at that popular beach that is always packed? Done. Have a family who has dreamed of ringing in the new year at that magical amusement park but the accommodations you need are never available when the booking window opens? Worry no more. If you have a specific vacation need that will not change for the next 10 years then locking in a guaranteed space and time may be the way to go.

Not sure you want to spend every summer in the same city at the same resort of the next 20 years? No problem! Whereas timeshare programs of the past were limited in their scope of availability and choice, today’s timeshare model offers individuals and families flexibility. Gone are the days when a timeshare consisted of one or two resorts. The most popular programs offer a plethora of options from road trips close to home to Caribbean getaways and European adventures. With the right company even your wildest travel dreams could be within your grasp.

The accommodations themselves are worth noting as well. When traveling with a family of four a hotel room with one bathroom, a mini fridge, and two double beds is not the most relaxing way to spend a week. Timeshare condominiums offer the comforts of home and range from a studio with a mini or partial kitchen to 4 bedroom units with a full kitchen, multiple bathrooms, private laundry facilities, and space to get away from the kids. It is also worth noting that the full kitchen is a good way to save money as well compared to eating two to three meals a day out. Bring basic breakfast and lunch items with you to keep in the room as well as sodas and bottles of water and you are sure to shave time and money off your vacation budget.

The biggest drawback to signing on the dotted line with a timeshare is the cost. Not only is there a large initial purchase price that is, in many cases, equivalent to a new car or a modest home, but there are often maintenance fees and annual taxes that will be due for the life of the membership. What might have been a great investment when a family was young and planning summer vacations with the kids every year might become more of a money drain when the nest is empty and fewer trips are being planned. Timeshares are a commitment that can, in the long run, bring more headaches than happiness.

Do the pros outweigh the cons? For some they do. For others, however, they find themselves eventually dissatisfied and with few options for getting out of the bargain without significant financial losses. Luckily, there are companies, such as Vacation Strategy, who are able to offer access to the same beautiful resorts for a fraction of the cost and without the lifetime of commitment. A timeshare does not fit every individual and family but for those who want to enjoy a vacation lifestyle, there is definitely something better!

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