We are often asked how we can afford to timeshare travel so often. We do own 14 timeshares, and usually vacation 18 weeks a year using those timeshare weeks. We thought it might be helpful to go through some of the math on what it costs us for a timeshare vacation. Obviously, each and every timeshare vacation will come up with different costs, but we think it’s important to look at those costs and plan how to get the most vacation for your hard-earned dollars.
Many of the costs of a timeshare vacation are also costs that you have at home, so this makes doing the math a little more complicated. For example, you need to pay for food, gas, heat, electricity, etc. at home that you would not be using while you are on your vacation. You also go out to eat at home; you spend money on some entertainment, and other activities. This kind of trade-off makes it hard to figure what a timeshare vacation might cost, but we are going to give it a try, and we challenge you to do the same for your vacations.
First, let’s take a look at the initial cost of the timeshare. As we have indicated in numerous posts on this site, we have purchased all of our timeshares resale and have paid cash for them. It should be clear that we have paid no interest for our timeshares and have received, we think, good value for our money. We also feel that if we were to sell any of our timeshares, we could probably get close to what we paid for them because we bought resale. With this being said, we do not figure into our vacations the costs of the initial purchase of our timeshare weeks, as that money could be recouped if need be.
Next, we will look at the cost of maintenance fees as a part of the overall costs of a timeshare vacation. We have written a couple of posts about maintenance fees that you might be interested in. (1) Those Malicious Maintenance Fees and (2) Timeshare-Maintenance Fees. We can take a look at maintenance fees from three different angles. The first way is to take a given vacation, and to calculate the maintenance fee for a trip. This would be the actual fees you paid to your home resort. Example (1) below illustrates this:
(1) We plan a trip to Pinestead Reef, a resort that we own in Michigan. Our maintenance fees for the year are $411.00. We decide to rent out a weekend night, thus getting 65% of the rental fee, which is around $80.00. This would drop our costs for a six-day trip to $331.00 for maintenance fees. We have no booking fees, as we own at this resort
The second way would be to come up with the fees you paid at your home resort for the trade you made. Example (2) illustrates the second approach:
(2) We have a two-week trip planned for this spring to Myrtle Beach. We were able to trade some of our Wyndham points for a three bedroom for the two weeks. We used two 28,000 deposits to trade those two weeks. For 28,000 points, we pay $142.00 in maintenance fees. In addition, we needed to pay an RCI booking fee of $189.00 per week, bringing the cost for each week to $331.00 for a three bedroom on the ocean.
The third way would be to take the total maintenance fees we pay for the year and divide them by the number of weeks of timeshare vacation we take each year. Doing the math this way, we find that our maintenance fee cost per week is about $350.00, so for figuring purposes, we will use this amount.
Along with maintenance fees are the booking fees, and annual dues to RCI. In some cases, it might cost a small fee of $25.00 or $50.00 to book in your resort system, but there is usually no fee if you are booking at your home resort. As I am sure you are aware, if you book through RCI you pay a fee of $194.00 for your exchange. It is a little cheaper if you can do it online. Because of the high exchange fees, we are finding that we are booking more trips through our home resorts, or through our timeshare systems, like Hilton or Wyndham. For the last year, doing the math, we paid $97.00 on average for the 18 weeks of timesharing vacations for booking and dues.
Transportation: Another cost that you need to consider is gas, if traveling by car. If we travel around 600 miles to get to our vacation spot and another 600 to get home, we travel about 1200 miles. (This would probably be an average mileage for one of our trips.) We again do the math, using an average of 28 mpg and the cost of around $3.00 per gallon. We come up with $64.00 for gas for getting to and back from our destination.
We usually figure that the gas we use during the week of vacation, once we get there, is about the same that we would use if we were at home, and shouldn’t be figured into the cost of the vacation. If you fly and get a rental car, that, of course, boosts the price of that vacation. We usually take only one or two flying timeshare vacations each year. The costs vary a lot because of air fares and rental cars, so we are not including those into our costs. Make sure you check out our post on how to get a good deal on a rental car.
The next area to take a look at is food costs. We always say that you have to eat, whether you’re on vacation or at home. Some people say that you should not figure any food costs into your total vacation costs. Read one of our top ten secrets of timesharing about making use of the facilities of the timeshare. We suggest that you fix breakfasts in the unit and pack some lunches to keep costs down. We also fix one or two dinners in the unit.
Probably, we should figure about $25.00 extra for food purchases and about $50.00 extra for eating out. These figures are in addition to what we would normally spend at home for food and restaurant meals. Some people decide that when they go on a vacation they are going to eat out for every meal, and go to expensive places and have a couple of drinks, and maybe dessert. If this is your pattern, that’s fine, but you need to realize that it’s going to up your costs. We’ve always felt that we’d rather spend less, and go more often. Then again, if you only take one or two vacations a year, why not splurge?!
Another area to consider is the costs for attractions and entertainment. Again, as with food, we suggest you read one of our top ten secrets of timesharing where we talk about the activities and the amenities at many of the timeshares. We look over the list of activities at the resort and select ones we are interested in. We have had a great time with many of the resort activities. The pool, mini golf, kids’ crafts, etc. have always been a big hit and usually cost very little, if at all. The resort also frequently has special prices to area attractions that you should check out. All of these help keep entertainment costs down.
The location frequently dictates what we end up doing. If we are at the ocean, we spend much of our time at no cost enjoying the sun, sand and surf. On the other hand, if we are in an area of national parks, we use our Golden Age Pass and spend time enjoying the park with hiking, picnics, auto tours, etc. In certain locations, like Myrtle Beach, Branson, Gatlinburg, etc., we see some shows. On average, we probably spend around $100.00 on attractions and entertainment per trip.
The last area we want to take a look at is shopping. It costs nothing to look and we frequently check out the local shops, malls and outlets in the area. And, of course, we buy our fair share! It’s hard to come up with a cost for this category, as we buy clothes, gifts, etc. at home, too. So we will list $0.00 in this area.
Overview of Costs: (average for a one week timeshare vacation)
Maintenance fees: $350.00
Booking fees and RCI dues that are not included in maintenance fees. $97.00
Attractions and entertainment $100.00
What we feel is most important, is that you figure out what your vacations cost, and look at ways to reduce those costs. We think timesharing is a good way to travel and we would much rather keep our costs down, and go on more trips. Enjoy your trips– we do!