According to an article in Forbes, Americans skip an average of 429 million paid vacation days annually. Why? Certainly there are countless reasons, such as the cost of travel or the disdain of facing a pile of work upon returning from vacation. Some people simply don’t enjoy the hassles associated with traveling, such as planning a trip, securing lodging and transportation, and of course, the threat of terrorism.
One way to counter the complications associated with planning a trip is to own a timeshare. Doris Patrick, a bartender in Columbus, Ohio, says she and her husband purchased a timeshare in Kissimmee, Florida 22 years ago, in part so they would have a pre-determined place to vacation.
“Having a timeshare forces you to vacation,” says Patrick. However, she admits she and her family haven’t always taken advantage of having a timeshare. First, the Patricks are the parents of two busy daughters, so vacationing hasn’t been a priority. Second, the costs associated with traveling to The Sunshine State often outweighed the couple’s financial capabilities, so they have banked their pre-determined timeshare week for future use. For example, the Patrick family recently returned from a week’s vacation at their timeshare and paid for it with their “banked” week from 2013.
“We are overpaying. Maintenance fees keep going up, so even if your timeshare is paid for, those fees keep adding up,” she says.
She warns other would-be timeshare owners to read their sales contract carefully. At least for her experience, “once you get in, it’s hard to get out” of timeshare ownership.
However, she is not totally opposed to owning a timeshare.
For one, the timeshare is an asset the Patricks can pass on to their daughters, and they like that. Mrs. Patrick also enjoys the predictability of the accommodations she and her family will enjoy when they do take advantage of their timeshare.
If a business owner is going to purchase a timeshare, she offers a piece of advice: be sure the facility managing the timeshare allows people to use a unit for variable weeks, rather than binding them to a specific week. That flexibility, she says, makes the concept of a timeshare more appealing. However, she notes, people should be aware they might have to pay a premium if they choose to vacation during prime travel times, such as 4th of July or Labor Day.
Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer who tweets as @girlwithapen.