Planning a vacation should be a fun and rewarding activity, not something that is hectic and stressful. It should be a time of gathering information, looking at different dates and scenarios, and plugging in all the who, whats, whens and wheres, so that down the road the end-product will be an enjoyable one. We’ve written some other posts about planning timeshare trips that you might find helpful (Timeshare Calendar-Scheduling Your Vacation, Plotting Your Timeshare Vacations, Timeshare Weeks, and Timeshare Travel on a Holiday-Yes or No), but in this post we’re going to deal with the Timeshare Calendar, and how it affects vacation planning.
Because we are retired, our calendar might look very different from yours if you are still working. When we were teaching, our possible vacation weeks were much more limited. But regardless of what your situation is, there are going to be certain weeks that would be great to travel and other weeks that travel would be virtually impossible. That is true of our situation, also.
Since we retired, our travel has fallen into some definite patterns. Usually we prefer to go somewhere warmer than Michigan after the first of the year. Exactly when that happens depends on what else is going on. We like to go for about 3 weeks, and usually end up in Florida, Las Vegas, Texas or Hawaii.
If we follow that pattern, we usually arrive home sometime in mid-winter, hopefully having escaped some of the worst snowy weather. Then, sometime in late spring we go somewhere for about 2 weeks. Spring brings our granddaughter’s Spring Break, Easter, and our daughter’s birthday, and we like to be home for those occasions. We might sneak in a trip somewhere in late Spring, but always arriving home in time for Mothers’ Day.
We could continue with the rest of the year, but you can probably see that we are working around certain activities and occasions where being on the homefront is important to us. Every year is a little different, depending on what is happening. This coming year (2012), Easter is early, and we’ll also be celebrating a First Communion, so those events will affect our travel plans.
Since not every year is exactly the same, we’ve found it helpful to use a Weeks Calendar Chart listing all of the weeks of the year. After setting this up, we block out any times that we want to be home for special events and occasions. We pencil in our fixed weeks, if we plan to use them as such. We then pencil in our “wish list” places and how we plan to get there (RCI Points, Wyndham Points, Hilton Points, Disney Points, RCI Weeks trade, etc.)
Once that is set up, we begin working on getting those places booked, and keep track on a Vacation Worksheet. Of course, depending on which system we’re trying to use, the time parameters are going to be different. (Examples: if we’re talking using Hilton points, you can book 9 months out; Disney points would be 11 months out for your home resort, 7 months for any other Disney resort, etc., depending on the system). We also record the dates that we can book different resorts on a Timeshare Calendar. Here is a Vacation Worksheet from several years ago so you can see what it looks like.
Jan. 20-Feb. 17 Hawaii
March 28-Apr. 4 HHI Coral Reef
Apr. 4 -Apr. 11 NashvilleWyndham
Apr. 26—May3 Myrtle Beach Ocean Blvd.
May 3-10 Gatlinburg , FF Smoky Mtns.
June 1-8 Landmark,Door County
June 8-13 GlacierCanyon (Dells)
Aug. 17-24 Treetops, Gatlinburg
Sept. 7-14 Pinestead Reef
Oct. 7-11 Sanibel—Shel l Island Beach
Oct. 11-18 Surf Club, Marco Island
Oct. 18-22 Wyndham Ocean Palms ? (Search beginning in January)
Nov. 9-16 HGVC or Wyndham? (Search beginning in January)
Nov. 15-22 St. George, Utah? (Keep checking RCI Points)
Once a resort is booked, the exact dates are put on the Vacation Worksheet, along with the trades/bookings we are still working on. The bookings also go on our master calendar, which hangs in the kitchen, the aforementioned Timeshare Calendar, and my pocket calendar. Periodically, we print out the schedule and give it to other family members.
Once we have a paper resort confirmation through mail or email it goes into a large, gold envelope with the trip dates written on the outside. We also put other items in this envelope, such as car rental confirmations, airline info, show tickets, etc. When we’re ready to begin the trip, all the info is right at our fingertips and goes with us.
Step 1: Set up a Weeks Calendar Chart. Block out times when you need/want to be home. Pencil in wish list places and/or resorts.
Step 2: Set up a Vacation Worksheet with tentative dates/parameters.
Step 3: Set up a Timeshare Calendar and write in when you can book your dates, depending on the timeshare system you are using.
Step 4: Once a resort is booked, put it on the Timeshare Calendar and any other calendars that you feel are necessary. Designate an envelope to put in relevant paperwork.
Some of this may seem redundant, but it works for us. The important thing is to set up a plan that you can work with, especially if you own multiple timeshares and travel frequently. Check out our video below for further clarification of the steps we use:
Good luck, and happy planning!