My Biggest Travel Mistake: Stupidity Runs Amok
Leah Walker September 25, 2012

I like to think that I have above-average intelligence, that I make smart decisions, and generally have my wits about me, especially in terms of travel.

Yes, there was the time I didn’t take my driver’s license to New Zealand even though I knew I’d be renting a car. However, in a stroke of genius I remembered that I had a scanned copy on my email. Crisis averted. I’ve shown up at the airport only to realize that I didn’t depart until the next day. But for the most part, I’ve managed to go unscathed through the travel minefield.

And then came this one trip to Vegas.

show me the money

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So many wonderfully horrible stories begin with, “This one time in Vegas…” I certainly could write a book about all the poor-decision making that I’ve made in Sin City. I think neon is my kryptonite. Too much alcohol and too little food, combined with too many trips to the ATM, have certainly left an indelible mark on my memory and wallet. I wish I could blame being over-served for my making the most stupid travel mistake ever. What did I do that was so stupid you ask?

I bought a timeshare.

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Yeah, I know. I can hear Suzy Orman screaming from New York. I wish I could say that I was hog-tied by the marketer combing the casino, drug to the nondescript strip center and forced to watch propaganda films preaching the advantages of owning a timeshare. I wish I could say that I was then clubbed over the head with the glossy marketing material and forced to visit the actual timeshare property. I wish that I could say that was held at gunpoint and only released after handing over my credit card and signing the ownership papers.

But I can’t.

Nope, I can’t say any of those things. What I can say is that the sales guy was one smooth-talking son-of-a-bitch. I can tell you that in the eight years that I’ve owned this Vegas timeshare, I’ve used it exactly ZERO times. If you know anything about timeshares then you know that there is a way to trade the time at your home resort for time at thousands of other properties around the world. That’s the real reason the timeshare was purchased. I stay for free in Vegas, but the timeshare purchased has tremendous trading power. That was the rationale at least. Have I ever even traded my week for time at another property?

NO!

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I’m pretty sure that I spent about $9,000 purchasing this Vegas timeshare. I would have had better a return by slapping that money down on the blackjack table. To add insult to injury, I get a bill every December for the $150 maintenance fees. This will happen until the day I die. I’m infuriated every time I open that freakin’ envelope and have to write the check. It’s a yearly reminder of my stupidity.

At the Grandview Las VegasCredit 

I needed to get rid of this albatross around my neck, so I contacted SellMyTimeshareNow.com, because, you know, I wanted to sell my timeshare immediately. I browsed around the site only to see that I wasn’t the only person who regretted their decision to buy a timeshare. The market was flooded with other owners who just wanted OUT. Not exactly a sellers’ market, I priced it competitively…or so I thought.

Not even a hint of interest.

I dropped the price obscenely low. It was like a dagger to my heart. If I sell the timeshare for the current $2,100 list price I will lose over $8,000, which includes the maintenance fees paid over the years.

The thing about timeshares is that they’re not that bad if they are actually used. I know many people who own and enjoy them on a yearly basis. It’s a bargain if you enjoy going to the same place year after year or are interested in their trading power. I’m just not one of those people, thus it was a mistake of gargantuan proportions for me to buy one.

I’m still trying to sell my timeshare. Any and all offers will be entertained. Maybe you’re looking to come to Vegas for a week in July every odd year, or perhaps you’re looking for a property that you can trade for a trip to Australia or Europe. Have I got the place for you! It’s still a bargain at twice the price. I’m even willing to get creative. Don’t have the cash but have plenty of airline miles? Talk to me!

Timeshares can serve a positive purpose. Not only are they a good option for those who love one specific place, but also those who are looking to trade for vacations around the world. If you are interested in buying a timeshare I’d like to offer one bit of advice: NEVER buy a timeshare directly from the resort itself. You’ll pay through the nose like I did.

In all seriousness, beware of timeshare hawkers. They’ll lure you in with promises of free stays, cash, gift cards, and a million other things. The sad thing is that I knew exactly what I was getting myself into; I was still sucked in. Prepare to run for the hills the next time a smiling face approaches you while on vacation. Just sayin’.

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Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

38 Comments

  1. I’m sorry to hear that! I hope some one would by your time share and enjoy every moment of it! I would gladly follow your advice every time “I see a smiling face approaches you while on vacation.”

    1. Henry, I got taken by my own free will. It’s taken me years to admit I was so dumb as to fall for all their bullshit lines. I suppose admitting it can lead to healing. 😉

  2. It could have been a lot worse. I have heard of people paying a lot more than $9k and maintenance fees in the thousands. I think most people that are trying to get rid of them are giving them away if you take over the maintenance.

    1. Oh, I hear you, Jeff. Things could have been much worse. My parents finally got rid of theirs by doing the same thing as you describe. At this point I might do the same thing, but I’m going to hold off for a creative barter. Like I mentioned, I’d take airline miles in a heartbeat.

  3. At only $150 per year for fees, you’re one of the luckiest of the unlucky timeshare-purchasers. I see most comments from people paying thousands per year. That’s your silver lining perhaps!

    1. Yes, you’re right. Since I only have access to it every other year, my dues are split into yearly payments rather than $300 every other year. I’m also hoping that’s a great selling point. 😉

  4. Sooo….was this a sponsored post by….you? Ready to be surprised?…I own a timeshare! Ever wonder how I go to Disney so often? Yeah, that’s how. I’m one of the rare ones that get’s the value out of it…in fact I might buy even more time with the nephew. And I feel your pain on the sales guy. I’m a salesman, and even I was hooked. The whole “you can go to over 500 places” thing hooked me, and now I realize that’s total horse crap… Good luck on the sale. There’s always eBay…

    1. NO! I cannot believe you own a timeshare. You’re Mr. Hotel guy, after all. I’m glad that you’ve been able to get value from your purchase. I really think that your nephew would like Vegas. I happen to know someone who can get you a GREAT deal on a timeshare. 😉

  5. I can see the benefit of it if you do go to a particular place a lot but like… what if you don’t want to go there/want to go somewhere else? I just find it limiting in the same way a cottage is limiting. That being said, I’ve been convinced by slick sales people to buy something like that before because, well, they make you seem like an idiot for not having it already! I feel your pain… best of luck!

    1. I guess paradise even gets old, doesn’t it, Margyle? My rationale was that I could trade it to go to a million other fantastic places. Unfortunately there was no follow through on that. That salesman could sell ice to Eskimos! I’m such a fool. 😉

  6. I don’t know if I should nag you for buying it or for not using it!
    the worst part is that you are actually very good when describing the advantages!! As I was reading your mistake I was thinking… “oh wouldn’t it be nice? I’m great trading. and we would have a different place every year”

    but I guess that if I still don’t know where I will be living next month… maybe I should invest (yet) in timeshare. hehehe.

    Uff… that was close. Any way, good luck 😉

    1. I know, Cat! I’m an idiot for buying and then not using it. I could take a really sweet trip with that $8k. You still don’t know where you’ll be in Edinburgh? Perhaps I need to get on to you!

    1. I can see it really working for families, so I’m not surprised that it worked for y’all. I’ve grown as a traveler in the last eight years, plus I’m no longer a teacher and don’t get that eight-week vacation each summer. I just don’t see myself spending a week in any one place unless I was on at least a three week trip.

  7. My parents and I were sucked in to buying a timeshare in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the same way that you were. I wouldn’t feel bad about yourself for it. These salesmen are EXPERTS at what they do, and they can find the most vulnerable part of you and attack it. You will never see it coming either.

    1. That makes me feel so much better! I was also accosted by salesmen in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago. At least I was wiser at that point. I wouldn’t even give them eye contact. Bastards!

    1. I know, Tom. I’m hopeless and stupid. Please don’t slap the cocktail out of my hand. I’ll need it to drown my sorrows.

  8. Oh girl, you are not alone in your mistake 🙂 Hubs & I were sucked into it on our honeymoon. In Cabo San Lucas. We were lured by the idea of trading in our time to be able to stay at other places around the world. Ugh, stupid. We traded in our time ONCE to stay at a cabin in the North Carolina mountains, and how many times have we been back to Cabo? ZERO. Eleven years and thousands of dollars later, it still looms over our heads.

    1. I hate to know that we’re in this club together. Those bastards! They totally knew you were not thinking straight being on your honeymoon and all. They are slick, I tell ya’.

  9. This is why I prefer my tent. I can put it up and take it down all over the world and it only cost $200.00. I can sympathize though as I bought a condo at the height of the housing market, so I understand about being stuck with a piece of property, although at least I live in it and get use out of it everyday.

    1. I’m starting to come around to your theory about the tent, Ted. I’m glad it wasn’t a huge investment like your condo, but you’re right, at least you get to live in it. Surely the market will bounce back up for you eventually.

  10. I just learned a shit-ton about timeshares that I didn’t know before. They always sound like such good deals at the time, but I suppose one would actually have to use them in order for the payoff. Here’s to hoping you get a reasonable offer soon. I have a friend that was talking about getting one a while ago. I’ll see if she’s still interested. 🙂

    1. Oh, I’ll give you a commission if you help me sell this! No, you and Chris would be terrible candidates for a timeshare. Heed my warning, friend.

  11. We almost bought one a zillion years ago- probably when they first came out- in the Poconos. It was CHEAP. But- they used hard-sell- we had to buy that day or the price went up. The worst thing to do to us is to use pressure, so we walked. We would have used it a LOT! Sometimes I kick myself. But- apparently they’re not for everyone. Can you give it to a charity for full value and get a tax credit- just sayin’.

    1. It’s interesting to read your regretting NOT buying a timeshare. It’s a great investment if you use it, and it sounds like you would have enjoyed many years in the Poconos. If you decide you want a Vegas retreat you know where to find me. 🙂

  12. Wow. I listened to the time share speech in Cabo recently and even posted my thoughts on my site… sorry to hear you are in this situation. It is certainly not for everyone. Best of luck unloading it.

    stay adventurous, Craig

    1. I’ll have to go find your thoughts, Craig. I’m curious now. I’ll get rid of it one way or another. In the meantime, I really should just use the damn thing. Party in VEGAS!

  13. Oh gosh girl, it happens…
    Hope you get out soon – there is always a sucker out there somewhere.
    In the meantime, try not to beat yourself up too much. Use the sucker and get some return on your investment.
    🙂

    1. Yeah, Priscilla, I think my ROI is shot. Hahaha…but yes, there’s always a sucker out there. Hopefully I can find another one to buy my mistake.

  14. Yikes indeed, Leah! Do you also have to keep it furnished? Are others using it? And how come you havent used other properties? You certainly have traveled some – do you just forget? or are the other properties not places you would want to stay? I hope you get to get rid of it soon!!!

    1. No, Raul, it’s furnished, and yes, others use it the other 51 weeks that I don’t. As for why I haven’t used other proporties, I just can’t seem to find a place where I’d like to spend an entire week, and that requires a lot of planning to make sure and get the place. Frankly, I’ve just been too damn lazy to arrange it.

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