Some of the greatest holiday memories come from experiences you hadn’t planned on having. What if the best holiday you ever have ends up being somewhere you never would have dreamt of travelling to? RCI.com can help you find the holiday experiences you love, but in places you might not expect to find them.

When starting to plan our next trip, most of us will have a firm idea of what we want to experience during our precious time away.

For many, a beach holiday immediately conjures up images of Spain’s sun-soaked Mediterranean coast, or the dark volcanic sand of the Canary Islands.

You might want to relax, enjoy good food, feel a gentle warm breeze on your skin and spend a couple of days wandering around the local fishing port town. Maybe include a boat trip, as well as a few bars and restaurants to while away your evenings in, and you’ve got your holiday checklist sorted.

But what if you stick to that checklist of holiday activity favourites, but apply it to looking out destinations you’ve not previously considered - or may not even have heard of?

Does your beach have to be beside a sea? Would you consider a beach resort on the banks of a lake?

With summer temperatures in the mid to high 20s, Hungary’s freshwater Lake Balaton boasts a 197km shoreline peppered with beaches, resort towns and framed by stunning hills. The lake is one of Europe’s top sailing venues, with no motorised boats permitted, so you’ll find no shortage of nautical activities to enjoy. Freshwater also means no frizzy, salty hair - so even if you’ve had a dip, you can wander straight from beach to bar!

The region is renowned for its vineyards which produce a bountiful grape crop, thanks to the fertile volcanic soil, and a plethora of vineyards means wine tasting options are never far away.

Lake Balaton in Hungary not only gives you lots of traditional villages and sunny vineyards to explore, but also offers a myriad of beach and boating fun as it has 197km of sandy shoreline.

Lake Balaton in Hungary not only gives you lots of traditional villages and sunny vineyards to explore, but also offers a myriad of beach and boating fun as it has 197km of sandy shoreline.

If you love nothing more than wandering the cobbled streets of a Mediterranean town, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Think beyond well-known tourist hot-spots and you could discover a fascinating, less prominent base for your holiday, equally rich in history, but with an added authenticity-factor of dining with locals at the places they frequent, often for lower prices than in busier tourist towns.

Malta, Madeira and Crete offer balmy alternatives to Spain and the Canary Islands. Still famed for their food, great climates and interesting historical influences, these Mediterranean marvels will tick all the boxes on your holiday planning checklist.

Madeira, in Portugal, is a great alternative to the better-known sun, sea and sand escape destinations such as Spain and the Canary Islands.

Madeira, in Portugal, is a great alternative to the better-known sun, sea and sand escape destinations such as Spain and the Canary Islands.

If you have never skied and want to learn, why pay a premium to follow the masses to highly-priced resorts in France and Switzerland when Sweden, Finland or Bulgaria offer a great packages for beginners?

If you’re learning, you’re unlikely to venture far enough around the pistes to warrant buying an expensive lift pass. So save your money for a second ski trip, because once you’ve learnt, you’re likely to catch the ski bug!

If skiing if your thing, take a look at Bulgaria or Finland as your destination - you will find it less expenisve, while the snow and the fun you will have will be just as good as in the more expensive and popular ski resorts.

If skiing is your thing, take a look at Bulgaria or Finland as your destination - you will find it less expensive, while the snow and the fun you will have will be just as good as in the more expensive and popular ski resorts.

Travelling outside peak times and school holidays will widen your holiday options even further. Or if you can only travel during at these times, this is the perfect opportunity to escape the crowds and inflated prices by trying somewhere different.

So how can you find these holidays?

RCI.com’s Resort Directory offers the option to search from over 4,000 affiliated resorts using activity holiday type filters. Click on your chosen activity or preferred holiday type to see a list of resorts worldwide in places where you will find all the things you like to do on holiday, before narrowing down your geographic destinations. Activity filters include golf, lakes, beaches, spa resorts, watersports and skiing, plus you can filter by holidays suitable for families, or holiday homes and cottages, rather than resorts.

RCI members will see even more filter options when using the holiday search within their online member account. These include specific amenities such as on site swimming pools and whether or not resorts are pet-friendly, among all sorts of filter options which our members have told us matter to them.

Searching based on the activities which mean the most to you, and choosing the location last, could throw up some surprising opportunities. Plus, you could even save money by going somewhere you’d not previously considered.

Without being as adventurous as this and keeping an open mind once away, I would not have accidentally attended an incredible Christmas party in suburban Athens; nor would I have been introduced to a horse-owner who took me riding in the Australian countryside. I wouldn’t have been handed the keys to a free, rickety old car painted with flowers and driven myself and a friend the length of New Zealand’s Southern Island.

I wouldn’t have joined a group of local ladies for a Monday morning kayak along the Noosa estuary in Northern Queensland; I wouldn’t have hazy memories of a rather late night trying to get back into my hotel in an Italian ski resort, through a window and a little worse for wear...

I wouldn’t have ventured out on my own in the Botswanan bush with a horse and a dog for company. I wouldn’t have accidentally stumbled upon the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre in the heart of the Swiss Alps. And I wouldn’t have seen majestic orangutans munching their breakfast in the Borneo rainforest.

If you open your mind to new experiences, there’s no telling what incredible situations you could find yourself in or what interesting people you may meet along the way. One opportunity can lead to another and you may be lucky enough to take your seat on your return flight back feeling you’ve achieved something more than simply an enjoyable holiday.

Now, when someone asks me what my favourite holiday memory is, I genuinely can’t choose. And I like to think I’ve not made that memory yet!

If you are a timeshare owner and want to travel further afield by using it to holiday swap, then you won't get a wider selection of holiday exchange options than with RCI membership. To see how simple it is to join RCI - if you own timeshare - just click on the button below.

Click here to Join RCI

Click on the button below to see where you could be holidaying, once you become an RCI member. With more than 4,000 resorts to choose from across the world, you will be sure to find what you love doing on holiday in some countries and destinations that you would never have thought of visiting. Have some fun using the search filter to see where you might be taking your next big holiday adventure.

Click here to view the RCI Resort Directory