Holidays are invariably much better for a little planning and forethought. RCI members are very passionate and savvy about their travel and so, as we look forward to planning our 2020 holidays, it would be useful to look back at some of the top holiday planning tips they have shared about how they get the best from their timeshare with RCI Exchange Holidays.

RCI members are very savvy when it comes to organising great holidays, appreciating that a little forward planning goes a long way in getting them away on fabulous holidays with their families.

RCI members are very savvy when it comes to organising great holidays, appreciating that a little forward planning goes a long way in getting them away on fabulous holidays with their families.

To get the best value out of timeshares, or shared-holiday ownerships as they are also known, you need to be willing to invest some time in forward thinking and planning. That is true of any kind of holiday, but RCI members appreciate that to get away on the holiday exchanges they really want, a little forethought goes a long way in getting them to where they want to be.

Our members are generous in sharing their views, insights and top tips as to how they make the best of their time out on holiday with RCI membership. I recently enjoyed looking back over some of the ideas our members have passed onto me, as editor of their RCI magazine, Endless Vacation, and it reminded me of just how savvy many of them are when it comes to travel planning. Here are some of my favourite top holiday planning tips from RCI members.

Use the search filters

Let's kick off with what I thought was an extremely clever tip - and one which I have used myself in planning holidays with my elderly father. Seasoned RCI members, Dr Glenys Hart, and her husband, Dr Douglas Hart, always hit the search filters in the online Resort Directory on RCI.com - the one called Holiday Types is a particular favourite. Glenys tells us why: "I often use the Beach Holiday Type search filter because we prefer a holiday location on the flat and, if you get accommodation by a beach, you know you're not going to end up in the hills somewhere."

RCI.com is the RCI member website, many parts of which can be accessed, even if you're not yet an RCI member. It's worth a visit to use the Holiday Types Search filter in the online Resort Directory to see just how many great holiday activities you can do across the world using RCI Exchange Holidays. If you are an RCI member, then take a leaf out of Glenys' book and use the resort search facilities in many clever ways to get the holiday you want.

RCI.com is the RCI member website, many parts of which can be accessed, even if you're not yet an RCI member. It's worth a visit to use the Holiday Types Search filter in the online Resort Directory to see just how many great holiday activities you can do across the world using RCI Exchange Holidays.

Staying with Glenys, she has several other tips for those holidaying with RCI Exchange Holidays and using their website - RCI.com. Knowing how time consuming holiday research can be, the search facility on the website comes in useful in other ways for the Harts, as Glenys explained: "Use the 'view resorts by map' function, as you will see how many resorts are available to you in each destination, and where they are in that country. You can then use the Holiday Types filter to drill down to the number of resorts where you can enjoy different activities - you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can do, and where you can do it. If doing multiple searches, however, it's important to remember which filters you have applied and to take them off before you start a fresh search.

"The Check-In Day Of The Week filter is also useful for us, as we are flexible in our travel times and dates so if we can book to check-in on, say, a Tuesday, the flights will be less expensive. And always read the RCI member reviews, where they are available on RCI.com, for some good insight into the experience at the different resorts."

Glenys and Douglas Hart use all the holiday planning facilities on RCI.com to get them away on the holidays want, while also saving time in researching them - and even money on flights by careful consideration around the departure and check-in dates they choose.

Glenys and Douglas Hart use all the holiday planning facilities on RCI.com to get them away on the holidays they want, while also saving time in researching them - and even money on flights by careful consideration around the departure and check-in dates they choose.

The Harts use the Holiday Types filter to select resorts close to the beach so they can be sure the area round and about their holiday resort is flat, which suits them better than a more hilly location. It is also surprising to discover where you might enjoy a beach holiday. Lake Balaton in Hungary, for example, has some pretty lakeside beaches which are perfect for a family holiday.

The Harts use the Holiday Types filter to select resorts close to the beach so they can be sure the area round and about their holiday resort is flat, which suits them better than a more hilly location. It is also surprising to discover where you might enjoy a beach holiday. Lake Balaton in Hungary, for example, has some pretty lakeside beaches which are perfect for a family holiday.

Another RCI member who gets more for her money by using the search filters in the RCI online Resort Directory is Maria Musgrove-Wethey. Checking out the check-in dates using the filter is essential to Maria's holiday planning, but not for the reasons you might think, as she explained: "We make the most of the RCI Extra Holidays and I find that some check-in dates for those suit me better than others. This is because I have booked two weeks of Extra Holidays and then only actually used ten of those days - because the savings to be made on the flights by choosing the right check-in dates make it worthwhile."

Maria with her husband, Robin, and daughter Isabella, on a timeshare holiday together in Madeira - a favourite destination for them. Maria finds the flexibility on flight bookings, combined with the great-value prices of the RCI Extra Holidays helps her to save money on the family's airfares.

Maria with her husband, Robin, and daughter Isabella, on a timeshare holiday together in Madeira - a favourite destination for them. Maria finds the flexibility on flight bookings, combined with the great-value prices of the RCI Extra Holidays helps her to save money on the family's airfares.

Use your trading power to trade

RCI members Susan Collie, and her husband Brian, know that by planning ahead they can get more holidays out of the timeshare holiday weeks they own. Planning ahead with RCI got the Collies 11 weeks of holiday last year from just four weeks of timeshare ownership. Each owned week of timeshare has a value allocated to it known as its trading power and, depending on a number of criteria, such as accommodation size, seasonality and demand for that resort, that trading power will vary from higher to lower amounts. Susan knows how to use hers to get more time away with her family, as she explained:

Thanks to Susan and Brian Collie's RCI membership of more than 30 years, they are able to share their holidays with friends, Kim and Martyn Edgar, who they met on holiday in Mallorca 40 years ago! By cleverly trading down to holiday in resorts during weeks with a lesser trading power their their owned weeks, the Collies got 11 weeks of holiday one year, out of just four weeks of owned timeshare.

Thanks to Susan and Brian Collie's RCI membership of more than 30 years, they are able to share their holidays with friends, Kim and Martyn Edgar, who they met on holiday in Mallorca 40 years ago! By cleverly trading down to holiday in resorts during weeks with a lesser trading power than their owned weeks, the Collies got 11 weeks of holiday one year, out of just four weeks of owned timeshare.

"I trade up and down, booking lower value weeks than our owned ones to get, say, two weeks in a lower value unit than our own. I also look out for the RCI deals and sales. We got an RCI offer on a week's stay at an RCI Gold Crown resort in Spain for an exchange trading power of only four. As one of our owned weeks in Scotland has a trading power value of 25, you can see how far a week can take you with a little planning!

“One year, Brian and I got four weeks holiday in Portugal, four weeks in Madeira and three weeks in Spain at an RCI Gold Crown resort - all out of our Kilconquhar week's ownership in Scotland and the deposit trading power it gives us, simply by being organised and depositing our week into the RCI exchange pool well in advance to maximise its trading power."

Susan and her friend, Kim, enjoy a drink in the sun on one of their RCI Exchange Holidays together which Susan was able to secure by using the trading power allocated to her owned timeshare weeks, as well as by taking advantage of some of the great-value RCI cash only holidays, to get extra holidays to share with her friends.

Susan and her friend, Kim, enjoy a drink in the sun on one of their RCI Exchange Holidays together, which Susan was able to secure by using the trading power allocated to her owned timeshare weeks, as well as by taking advantage of some of the great-value RCI cash only holidays, to get extra holidays to share with her friends.

Give the gift of a holiday

Margaret and Charles Burnell purchased their timeshare in 1989 and joined RCI to take advantage of the RCI Holiday Exchange programme. Over the last 30 years, they have enjoyed fabulous exchanges all over the world, discovering places they never thought of visiting before. However, the couple have generously shared the perks of RCI membership, when they could, to take their friends away on holiday with them. Margaret told me: "We have used RCI Late Deals, Extra Holidays and Guest Certificates to allow our friends and family to enjoy great Exchange Holidays. The process is easy in that once a resort has been chosen on RCI.com, you just click on the icon to add a Guest Certificate. An email is then sent to us, and to the recipient of the exchange. So simple!”

Margaret and Charles Burnell have been members of RCI for 30 years and have enjoyed many membership benefits. They like to share their timeshare experience, however, and often gift RCI Guest Certificates to their family and friends so they can also enjoy all that RCI has to offer.

Margaret and Charles Burnell have been members of RCI for 30 years and have enjoyed many membership benefits. They like to share their timeshare experience, however, and often gift RCI Guest Certificates to their family and friends so they can also enjoy all that RCI has to offer.

Margaret recently gifted her cousin Dale Walker with a Guest Certificate so she, her husband Gilmour, and brother-in-law John, could all enjoy a relaxing week away on the Costa del Sol. Happy to receive her holiday, Dale said: “Using the RCI Guest Certificate, we had a fabulous holiday at Crown Resorts at Club Calahonda (1878) in the Costa del Sol." As soon as the party arrived at the resort, Dale was impressed with the high level of service and friendly staff. Dale and her family were very pleased with the size of the apartment in comparison to that of a standard hotel room, as it was a perfect size for a family holidaying together, she said: "Our two-bedroom apartment was located on the second floor and was spotlessly clean with an excellent view from the balcony. The apartment had a lounge and kitchen area which was great for relaxing and cooking in when we didn’t fancy going out to eat."

It's worth remembering that you don't need to use your trading power or points to enjoy an RCI Late Deal or Extra Holiday - they are holidays for cash, sourced for our members at great-value rates. They can be enjoyed as extensions to an Exchange Holiday, or simply to get an extra break away when you are out of trading power or points - or maybe saving those for a special getaway.

Margaret gifted a holiday to her cousin, Dale, who is pictured here with her husband, Gilmour, and brother-in-law, John, who were all reunited after many years during a holiday in Fuengirola which Dale and Gilmour went on by using Margaret's gift of an RCI Guest Certificate.

Margaret gifted a holiday to her cousin, Dale, who is pictured here with her husband, Gilmour, and brother-in-law, John, who were all reunited after many years during a holiday in Fuengirola which Dale and Gilmour went on by using Margaret's gift of an RCI Guest Certificate.

Use and abuse your RCI membership

The last word should go to Donna Merrick, one of my favourite members who has enjoyed so many amazing holidays with RCI and talks so enthusiastically about her family's timeshare adventure lifestyle. It goes without saying, Donna is a planner. Her weeks are deposited in good time to ensure she gets the highest trading power values for them, as well as the best opportunities to book the accommodation she wants as soon as it becomes available.

Donna Merrick and her family have travelled all over the world thanks to their RCI membership. Donna plans her RCI holidays well ahead of time to ensure she gets the exchanges she wants.

Donna Merrick and her family have travelled all over the world thanks to their RCI membership. Donna plans her RCI holidays well ahead of time to ensure she gets the exchanges she wants.

Donna uses her weeks to provide accommodation for some unusual experiences. "Tour, explore and repeat," she told me. "One year we turned our Florida holiday into a road trip and touring adventure. We spent four nights in Miami, then travelled to a resort in RCI's exchange programme - Palm Beach Resort (0616) - for a week, and then moved on again for a further week at a second RCI-affiliated resort, Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort - East Village (8896). On another trip we stayed in a resort in Las Vegas - Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Desert Club Resort (0110) which was close to The Strip. We hired a car and moved on after a week, driving through Henderson and visiting the Grand Canyon, before spending a last week at Sedona Pines Resort (4968), which was the complete opposite to the glitz and glamour of Vegas, being the perfect base for walking and horse riding in the red rock country."

Donna and her family soak up the sun on one of their many adventure holidays using their timeshare exchanges as a base from which to explore. 'Tour, explore and repeat' is Donna's master plan for fabulous family holidays.

Donna and her family soak up the sun on one of their many adventure holidays using their timeshare exchanges as a base from which to explore. 'Tour, explore and repeat' is Donna's master plan for fabulous family holidays.

Donna has organised other such holidays in Europe, hopping from resort to resort to keep the holiday fresh and exciting for her family. She also takes advantage of being able to book spacious accommodation, offering so much privacy, to take some time out with her friends, leaving the family behind.

You don't need to own several weeks to make your exchange into a multi-destination adventure, or to book several apartments to take your family or friends away with you. With both the RCI Weeks and the RCI Points programmes, members can save and borrow from past and forthcoming use years, combine weeks and credits, rent more points and much more to access extra accommodation.

The Bushell family enjoying some fun time in the pool on an RCI Exchange Holiday. Tracie is careful to combine any weeks and credits she has left to book more time away on holiday, making sure that nothing is wasted.

The Bushell family enjoying some fun time in the pool on an RCI Exchange Holiday. Tracie is careful to combine any weeks and credits she has left to book more time away on holiday, making sure that nothing is wasted.

RCI Platinum member, Tracie Bushell shared her top tip for great exchanges: 'I combine weeks and credits; I don't let anything expire and go to waste! Make sure you check RCI.com regularly to see what resort accommodation comes up, as other members deposit their weeks all the time. I absolutely love my holidays and it's worth putting in that groundwork to get all the fabulous breaks I enjoy."

RCI is continually looking for ways to give its members more flexibility in the way they choose to holiday. As Donna tells us: "RCI membership has worked amazingly well for me and my family because I make it my business to know exactly how the system works. RCI has given us access to some incredible properties, but it's up to us to do some of the work to make that happen."

Tracie, third from right, on her first ever family holiday in Tenerife using her RCI membership and her timeshare.

Tracie, third from right, on her first ever family holiday in Tenerife using her RCI membership and her timeshare.

If you own timeshare but haven't yet joined an exchange membership to take you off on holiday adventures, then you should take some time to visit RCI.com and explore the benefits of joining RCI. Click on the button below to start your holiday lifestyle and join RCI now.

JOIN RCI

Once you have become an RCI member - or if you are already a member of that adventurous travel membership - kick start your 2020 holiday calendar to give yourself something to look forward to throughout the winter months, by visiting the Resort Directory using the button below.

RCI RESORT DIRECTORY