Vacation in the Best Resorts for Free with Timeshare Exchange
Last weekend, I was showing some friends the photos of our trip to Spain, where we spent 10 days in Madrid and on the coast in Marbella. Photo after photo, we marveled at the beauty of the art and the landscape. It was so wonderful, and the photos just didn’t do it justice. My friend Chris also wanted to know more about our accommodations: a two-bedroom villa with marble floors, full kitchen with granite counters, king-size bed, and Jacuzzi tub. Since the trip, I hadn’t thought about the villa and how gorgeous it was, mostly because we’ve become accustomed to vacationing like that. We stay in the best places, and it doesn’t cost us very much to do it. What really confused him was that he knows how much money I make (certainly not enough to afford a place like that), and that I have kids too. Chris and his wife wanted to know how I pulled it off.
I told him that although Lynn and I love to vacation, we never want to worry about our safety or the cleanliness and quality of our lodging. We won’t budge on that. But we also have a budget that we have to manage very closely. And with the economy the way it is, it’s even more important to watch our spending. Lastly, we don’t like the “hidden fees” of travel that are tacked on every time you turn around these days. I told him that we use a technique that is available to everyone, but that is used by few people since many don’t understand it. It’s called timeshare exchange, and it’s actually quite simple. Let me explain how it works.
Resort Timeshare Exchange
We purchased our timeshare in Hawaii years ago. As nice as that resort is, we don’t want to go there every year—we want to see new places. And as timeshare owners, we have the right to trade our unit with another owner. So we trade our week for their week, and they get to vacation at our place and we vacation at theirs. It’s kind of like swapping homes for a week, except these are gorgeous resorts in the best vacation areas. We always know the quality of the resort because we know people that have stayed there. And besides the annual cost to maintain our own place, with our method it never costs us a dime: no fees, no hidden fees, no taxes, nothing.
The fact that we don’t pay any fees surprises many people, since most timeshare exchanges today are handled by two companies that do charge fees. RCI is the largest, and Interval International is the other. As a member of their service, you pay an annual membership fee of about $100 each year, even in years you don’t trade. You also pay an exchange fee of $139–199 each time you trade. When you are ready to trade, you “deposit” your timeshare week into their “bank,” and then you get to “withdraw” a week at a property that they deem to be of equal value.
Avoid the fees
Chris told me that his parents own two timeshares—one in Aruba and one in Orlando. “My parents are always complaining about all the fees. So how do you do it for free?” Chris asked. It’s simple: We don’t use RCI or Interval International. We trade on our own. We’ve been traveling for years and created a network of timeshare owners that all want to trade timeshares but don’t want to pay all those fees. So each year we arrange our own trades. As the network got bigger, we created a website called TimeshareJuice. It links up timeshare owners around the world (some resorts have joined too) to enable them to trade for free. It’s easy and fun.
Brief History of Timeshare and Vacation Ownership
Today there are over 5,000 resorts in 100 countries, and over 6.5 million timeshare owners around the world. The industry has been around for over 40 years and admittedly has a dicey past. The timeshare industry is a provocative one, evoking images of unrelenting sales pitches, false promises, and lots and lots of hidden fees. But as my mom would always say, there are two sides to every story. Yes, even timeshare has another side. About 25 years ago, major hotel chains saw the potential of the business and began developing timeshare resorts called vacation clubs. The first prominent chain to jump in was Marriott, followed by Hilton, Hyatt, Disney, and others. Marriott Vacation Club invested heavily and was determined to bring prestige to the industry. They use the term “vacation ownership” or “vacation club ownership” instead of “timeshare” to distinguish themselves from the rest.
Vacation on a budget
Using TimeshareJuice, the only costs we have are the annual maintenance fees (similar to condo fees) for our unit in Hawaii. Each place we stay in is already paid for by the other party. All we have to do is check in and start having fun. The resorts handle the check-in and check-out, maid service, maintenance, and so on, just like a hotel, so there’s nothing else to do.
The Juice of Life
Timeshare exchange has allowed us to sip wine as we gaze at the Mediterranean Sea from the beach in Marbella, Spain, watch the marvelous sunset from the sands of Maui, get pampered at a world-class spa in Palm Desert, and so much more. The juice of life is spending time with family and friends, having fun. We work hard all year and cherish our vacation time with our family. And when we do vacation, we want to make sure it’s the best value for our money. Vacation ownership and the ability to exchange have allowed us to have it all.
May a great vacation be coming your way,
Husband, Dad, Avid Traveler, and Founder of TimeshareJuice
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- Interval International
- Marriott Vacation Club