Just as with most of the things we buy throughout our lives - cars, caravans, houses, outfits, the list is endless - there comes a time when our circumstances, preferences and needs change and we may no longer be able to enjoy the low-slung sports car or the touring caravan that needs towing... Timeshare is no different. What has changed, however, is timeshare ownership itself and the ways in which holiday home swaps work today.

There are many reasons timeshare owners want to sell their timeshare or hand it back. However, timeshare resorts and exchange companies have got smarter in creating different ways timeshares can be used, which means that you should think carefully before you commit to selling your timeshare.

Many timeshare ownerships today are sold on a short-term basis of three-, five- and ten-year periods. However, the earliest timeshares that date back 30 years or more were sold on long-term or in perpetuity contracts of between 30 to 80 years. As those original buyers and timeshare owners have now grown older, with many being unable to use their timeshares for a myriad of reasons, from immobility and illness to bereavement or a change in circumstances making travel unaffordable, some owners now want a release from their timeshare ownerships.

Selling on an unwanted timeshare can be difficult and, if you have a younger family or friends who love to holiday in comfort - or may even have joined you on your timeshare holidays over the years - you really should consider passing your timeshare on to them.

Selling is probably the last thing you should do with an unwanted timeshare - it is difficult to do and, with the new short-term ownership products available today, younger family members would welcome the opportunity to take it on and may even take you with them on holiday so you can still enjoy it!

A growing number of resorts now offer shorter term ownerships or travel club memberships, and they may permit you to change from an existing long-term ownership contract to a short-term one of between three to ten years. This may well be an option that suits your children, especially if they have families of their own and would appreciate the space, privacy and safety that comes with timeshare apartments and resorts that you don't get with most standard hotel accommodation. You will be passing on the legacy of the wide world of travel that you have enjoyed for so many years with your children while they were growing up, with all the benefits it brought in stimulating their curiosity and creating so many memories of the wonderful times you shared together across the years.

Transferring ownership to those who can and will use your timeshare is certainly something worth considering, and it should be the first option you investigate - before looking at taking the resale route - when you no longer can, or want to, use it.

Make a gift of your timeshare

If you can no longer use your timeshare, why not think about gifting it - with RCI membership - to those in your family who have a lifetime of holidays ahead of them to enjoy? That's what Sharon Bennet's parents did when they no longer felt they wanted to travel as much. Sharon told me that having the timeshare has made a big difference to her and her husband, Marc, and they are very grateful that her parents thought about passing on their timeshare to the couple.

Sharon explains: "I was introduced to timeshare when my parents suggested I use the RCI Guest Certificates to access some great holidays. The first timeshare holiday Marc and I went on was, in fact, our honeymoon! We holidayed at the Hollywood Mirage Club (RCI Resort ID: 2429) in Tenerife, which was the timeshare we eventually took over from my mum and dad. We also had their RCI membership transferred to me two years ago as well, so we could get more from the timeshare ownership."

Sharon became an RCI member after taking on her parents' timeshare at the Hollywood Mirage Club in Tenerife. She and husband, Marc, first discovered that timeshare was the way they wanted to holiday when they used an RCI Guest Certificate given to them by Sharon's parent to use for their honeymoon.

Sharon became an RCI member after taking on her parents' timeshare at the Hollywood Mirage Club in Tenerife. She and husband, Marc, first discovered that timeshare was the way they wanted to holiday when they used an RCI Guest Certificate given to them by Sharon's parents to use for their honeymoon.

Loving timeshare because...

Sharon says that she and Marc had compared timeshares to standard hotel accommodation, but there was no comparison between the hotel experience and their timeshare... "They were simply worlds apart in terms of accommodation, facilities and service," she explains. "The freedom timeshare gives you to holiday exactly as you want to is something we value. We spend about a third of our time on holiday chilling in our apartment and feel that it is so good not to have to be on parade all the time, as you are in a hotel.

"There is much more privacy in our timeshare. I am a publican and when you run a pub, privacy is a valuable commodity, as our pub/home is an open house around the clock! It's relaxing to be able to just shut ourselves away."

Beautiful view of the pool from a balcony at Hollywood Mirage Club where Sharon and Marc spent their honeymoon.

Beautiful view of the pool from a balcony at the Hollywood Mirage Club where Sharon and Marc spent their honeymoon.

Sharon and Marc say they spend a lot of time in their holiday apartment, which means the gift of timeshare was the perfect gift for this couple, as Sharon explains: "Timeshare accommodation suits us, as we do a lot of living in our apartment on holiday and when you are taking a three-week holiday, as we do, you need the space. Although we like to eat out, it's so relaxing to come back at the end of a day and do exactly as you please for your meal - no set restaurant times to observe."

Looking back, timeshare provides a holiday lifestyle which has suited Sharon's family for several generations. "When Mum and Dad said their timeshare had become too much for them after having had such great experiences, I was happy to take it on," says Sharon. "We upgraded our ownership, buying timeshare at the Beverly Hills Heights (RCI Resort ID: 2398), on the lovely island of Tenerife. It was beautiful; so well organised and maintained, while the staff couldn't do enough for us. I never felt so pampered and well-looked after on a holiday."

A bedroom at the Beverly Hills Heights resort speaks of the comfort and high-specification accommodation Sharon and her family had come to expect of timeshare. Shortly after taking on her parents' timeshare, Sharon and Marc upgraded their ownership with the purchase of a week at this iconic resort on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

A bedroom at the Beverly Hills Heights resort speaks of the comfort and high-specification accommodation Sharon and her family had come to expect of timeshare. Shortly after taking on her parents' timeshare, Sharon and Marc upgraded their ownership with the purchase of a week at this iconic resort on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

The on-resort facilities are excellent in timeshare complexes, something the couple really appreciate. "We use the pool area a lot, as it's more relaxed than the beach and there are many great dining options close by when you are ready to eat," says Sharon. "We tend to holiday during term time, when the children are at school, and so the pool area is very peaceful. We have enjoyed taking our own children away with us on timeshare exchanges, and now we have eight young grandchildren, but it makes a change for us to be on our own.

"We took the children on an RCI exchange to Mexico with my parents, staying in a fantastic Mexican resort. It was a fabulous holiday, with so much for the children to do - it pays to stay in a larger resort when you have children with you. I remember the poolside service absolutely spoiling us! The apartment was out of this world and I estimated, at the time, that we would easily have paid £1,000 a week for that apartment, had we not been able to access it via RCI membership. We spent two weeks in Mexico, with one week in Cancún, where we managed to get three apartments joined together to accommodate our family group. It was the ideal holiday for us all."

Why RCI Membership

The Bennets plan to use their RCI membership to exchange into new holiday destinations a lot more in the future, and the Seychelles is one of several places on their holiday wish list.

"My parents used their timeshare for 20 years, and we had been using it for about ten years before taking it over, with the transfer of their RCI membership to me as well," says Sharon. "My mum has taught me how to get the most from RCI Holiday Exchange membership. I combine our two weeks and any credits to get us three weeks away on holiday each year. Mum used to book her flights and everything - the whole door-to-door holiday journey - through RCI.

"I am now getting confident in how to get the best out of our timeshare using RCI's services, and Marc and I are looking forward to enjoying many years of fabulous holidays in quality accommodation using our RCI membership, just as my parents did for so many years."

For couples such as Sharon and Marc, who love to feel at home on their holiday and enjoy a little seclusion and privacy, the space afforded by timeshare accommodation and apartments makes for the perfect escape. After a day's adventures exploring your holiday destination, returning to your apartment to sit back and enjoy a tasty dinner on your lovely balcony or garden terrace is the ideal way to end the day.

For couples such as Sharon and Marc, who love to feel at home on their holiday and enjoy a little seclusion and privacy, the space afforded by timeshare accommodation and apartments makes for the perfect escape. After a day's adventures exploring your holiday destination, returning to your apartment to sit back and enjoy a tasty dinner on your lovely balcony or garden terrace is the ideal way to end the day.

Passing on RCI Membership

As an RCI member, RCI will offer you all the support it can throughout the timeshare ownership transfer process, as well as helping with the RCI membership enrolment of the new owner. It is a good idea to enrol your new owner into RCI membership, as it gives them or any others they may invite to use their timeshare, the opportunity to swap out - or exchange - the owned week for another in a different place. There are thousands of destinations across the world where RCI has affiliation agreements with resorts of every kind to make them available to RCI's timeshare exchanging members. If you are an RCI member who has transferred your timeshare to a family member or friend, and want to learn more about transferring your RCI membership to them, visit: RCI.com/contact

If you are already an RCI member, you can use your membership to take advantage of accommodation in more than 4,300 resorts in over 110 countries. Click on the RCI Resort Directory button below to see where you could be holidaying.

Don't forget that you can always check your personalised RCI Account online - or look out for your monthly RCI Account Statement mailings - to be sure that you don't waste any of your trading power or points, and are getting away on all the fabulous holidays throughout the year that you deserve.

RESORT DIRECTORY

If you’re a timeshare owner and not yet a member of the RCI Holiday Exchange programme you could be missing out on seeing some of the most incredible places. Click the button below to Join RCI and start your world travel adventure…

JOIN RCI