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NEW YEAR| Week 8. How do you do Vacation Planning?

The way the Smiths vacation plan changed in 2014 when Ben and I took an anniversary trip to Savannah, GA. We were walking along minding our own business when we were asked to attend an hour long info session for Bluegreen Vacations. There was no purchase necessary - and for our time, a gift card and free tickets to tourist attractions in the city. Sure, why not.

The next morning we showed up and that hour turned into three. We took a tour of the timeshare in Savannah. It was beautiful and definitely enticing... however, it just seemed too good to be true. And I wasn't quite sold on paying all this money for a timeshare. I had always heard about timeshares where you got a week here and a week there at set places or so many weeks per year to use. Bluegreen was different, it was based on a point system and you could use those points at any of their resorts at anytime there was availability. That sounds delightful... however, I still wasn't sold.

Ben and I were not convinced that it was right for our family. The last package offered to us was the Sampler Package which is 8,000+ points for $800. That may seem a little crazy but when you see how the points can be used, you realize that $800 is a bargain when you are going to be vacationing anyways! We booked a spring break trip to St. Augustine, FL with the kids for the following spring and a trip for Ben and me to Charleston, SC for our next anniversary. It would give us a chance to check out a couple of the resorts before making a final decision.

The resort in St. Augustine was perfect for our vacation. Turns out that it is a huge golf resort, although Ben golfs, the rest of us do not. That's not all, there were basketball courts, tennis courts, beach volleyball, a beautiful pool and the very best part, lots of other families!!! That meant plenty of other little friends for our kids to entertain themselves with while providing plenty of relaxation for us. It was heaven!

The resort in Charleston did not disappoint either. It was close to the market, restaurants and not far from King St. Although we had rented a car, there was little need for it while we were there. It was in Charleston that Ben and I had to make a decision as to whether we were going to commit to the timeshare or pass.

We decided to invest at 10,000 points per year. Since that time we have traveled to Charleston a second time; as well as St. Augustine; Orlando where we stayed in a RCI resort; Dennis Port, MA {Cape Cod}; Atlantic City, NJ; and Gordonsville, VA. We have upcoming trips this year to Myrtle Beach, SC and Hershey, PA planned through our timeshare - and points to spare!!

It has been a lot of fun traveling to new places we may not have otherwise gone. Last summer we went to Gordonsville, VA where we stayed in a yurt. It may have been one of my favorite resorts yet. I mean where else are you going to go glamping?! A yurt with a fully furnished ktchen, complete with a dishwasher, full bathroom, two bedrooms, pull out couch in living room and a fireplace. There was even a picnic table, sink and grill on our own private deck. {One tiny tidbit... a yurt is much like a tent, I didn't give that part much thought when I planned it. You can hear your neighbors every conversation, all the wildlife, all the everything... if that's not your thing - I would suggest a cabin.}

Yurt, Gordonsville, VA, Bluegreen Vacations

Glamping, Gordonsville, VA

Think your options of places to travel are too limited? Think again... Our timeshare has places in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida*, Georgia*, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts*, Michigan, Missouri*, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina*, Pennsylvania, South Carolina*, Tennessee*, Virginia*, Wisconsin and in Aruba. {*Many of the states have resorts in more than one location or multiple resorts in one location.} On top of all those locations we are able to use our points through RCI (another timeshare); convert our points to be used for hotel stays; there are even options to travel to other countries; options for cruises; and more! The possibilities are endless.

.... And that's not all. We also have the ability to use what's called Bonus Time... where instead of using points, you pay per night. The pricing is far less expensive than if booking a hotel with much better accommodations. The only restriction is that bonus time can only be booked so far in advance. {It often works best for last minute getaways}

We realize that timeshares aren't for everyone. However, we have found that traveling with a timeshare has proven to be beneficial for us given Ben's work schedule and the kids' sports schedules now that they are older.

What's your vacation planning style? Are timeshares your thing? Do you prefer resorts? Or cruises? Do you prefer renting a house for a week? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to send me your tips/tricks and vacation planning preferences to

Looking for more information on our timeshare, I would be happy to put you in touch with a representative.

{DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a paid advertisement for Bluegreen Vacation, simply my opinion on the experience we have had as timeshare owners through this company.}

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