1. Okay, Miss Monica, what was the specific incident that got you to this interview?
We connected in a travel blogger community, where you asked if anyone would like to be interviewed. I said yes, and here we are!
2. What has earned you the right to be an authority on this topic?
My blog has a special section on Timeshare Traveling. I’ve never worked in the timeshare industry, and I’m not being compensated by any of the parties I talk about on my site. I’m just a happy timeshare owner of 15 years. I’m on a mission to help the 20 million people (9 million in the U.S. alone!) who own a timeshare make the most of it. I like to think of myself as Your Timeshare Fairy Godmother!
3. What is your brand, your topic exactly about?
Timeshare vacations and ownership is beautiful yet complicated, and there’s a steep learning curve. As a veteran owner and a member of various Facebook groups, I have seen firsthand that many owners struggle to learn how to use their timeshare, and they don’t know how to hack it. I added these completely free resources to my site after seeing the need.
For example, four out of five people have U.S. National Parks on their travel bucket list, but many timeshare owners express frustration that it doesn’t seem like they can use their ownership to see them. I thought to myself, there must be a guide like this out there to help the millions of owners travel to national parks. It turns out that it didn’t exist! So I made one myself and offer it free on my site!
4. Why is it important?
With over $10 billion a year spent on timeshare purchases and 20 million worldwide owners of timeshares, I’m on a mission to help people save money and make the most of their timeshare ownership. For some people, this can be the difference between 1 more vacation a year for their family or all the way to helping people on fixed incomes leverage their timeshare ownership to snowbird for the winter in Florida! For those who can’t figure this world out, they are wasting thousands of dollars each year paying for a timeshare that they don’t use. That makes a frugal fannie’s heart hurt.
With so many people spending their hard-earned money buying timeshares, and in essence, prepaying for future years of vacations, I want to make sure they made a good buy. That’s why I took hypotheses from the owner’s groups and put them to the test to determine once and for all.
In 2021, I’m also going to be spreading the word on how everybody can vacation in timeshare resorts for pennies on the dollar! If you want to vacation in beautiful condo resorts with all the amenities of hotels AND the conveniences of apartments for $300 a week, I’m your gal! No timeshare ownership or high-pressure sales presentations required!
5. Now that I know what it is, now that I know why it’s important and relevant, how are you implementing this on your travels? I mean, like, is there a process that you follow when traveling?
This question really got me thinking about my process, which I’ve never really written about before. As my URL says, I really am a planner at heart and have a board in our house with a list of timeshare vacations we want to go on in the next 5 years. When planning, I look for trips that are the intersection of fun, adventure, and a premium timeshare resort that’s a great deal. That being said, I don’t schedule us to the place where we can’t take advantage of last-minute travel deals or invites from friends to join them on vacation.
6. What if people took advantage of your tips and steps you are providing? What will happen, how will their travels change?
My goal is to inspire timeshare owners to consider destinations that they haven’t considered previously and save them money along the way. On my website, I talk about how to calculate the value of your timeshare vacation and how much you save by traveling this way.
Do you remember how you felt when you traveled alone for the first time?
The first time I traveled alone was in my young 20’s for a business trip. I remember being nervous and excited at the same time.
How did you, or do you deal with fears?
Being aware of your surroundings and taking some safety precautions are smart whether you’re in your home town or across the world. I don’t wear expensive jewelry when I travel by myself, and I always lock my hotel room as soon as I enter it. Try not to talk on your phone when you’re walking down the street, as you’ll be distracted. If you feel like you are being followed, cross the street walk a block, and then cross the street again. If they are still with you, go into a store or restaurant right away.
Is there a place where you have been, and you would definitely not recommend it for women on their own and why?
I haven’t traveled to any place like that. I’ve been nervous a couple of times by myself but not to the point where I don’t think other women should go.
Do you still have this excitement when you go on a trip?
I still love traveling! And after 12 months of canceled trips, I think I have even more excitement to get traveling again.
What are your top 5 destinations and why?
It is hard to pick just 5, but here’s some places i loved.
While Tokyo was fantastic and had amazing energy, once we went to Kyoto, I really felt like I was in another continent, a really different part of the world from the suburbs of New York City. Taking a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto was a once in a lifetime experience!
One of my more recent trips was to Charleston, North Carolina. We went on an “adult spring break” trip with two other couples, and it was an amazing vacation! The food and drink scene is world-class. We ate ridiculously well at every single meal. One of our trip’s highlights was going to an 80s concert at a local music venue called The Pourhouse. It was outside of the tourist area and introduced us to an 80s cover band called Electric Avenue, who I’m now obsessed with.
The Catskills have always been a beloved ‘back to nature’ getaway. It’s only 90 minutes from NYC, but you might as well be a world away from the crowds, noise, and hurried life. From historical artists to the Borscht Belt resorts of yesteryear (you know what I’m talking about Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Fans) to Woodstock, there’s always been magic here. Now Millennial artists, bakers, hoteliers, and restaurateurs are shaping the next ‘version” of the Catskills, celebrating the same awe-inspiring surroundings. The Catskills is home to our timeshare; it’s an amazing trip in all seasons.
North Shore Oahu is a much more authentic Hawaiian experience than Waikiki. I lived on Oahu for two years, and the North Shore is so beautiful. We spent part of our honeymoon at Turtle Bay Resort, where most of Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed. It’s an easy way to see the real Hawaii for people who don’t want to fly again after their long flight into Honolulu.
Joshua Tree National Park was one of my first National Park experiences. It transports you to “The Outer Limits of Reality,” yet it’s close enough to visit from Palm Springs, Los Angeles, or San Diego. It’s so otherworldly and vast, that Star Wars scenes were filmed there! The park covers 800,000 acres with mountains, wide deserts, and infamous Joshua trees. It’s hard to wrap your brain around this place, and it will definitely give you the bug to visit more National Parks.
Funniest story that happened to you when traveling?
When I was in Elementary School, we lived on Oahu for two years. For school breaks, we would hop over to other Hawaiian islands for vacation. One Spring Break trip, my parents forgot all our suitcases at home. They each thought the other person put them into the car. By the time they discovered it, we were already at the airport and running late for our flight. So we got on the plane and went. We bought everything we needed for the week from ABC stores and the hotel gift shop. I still remember the beautiful two-piece bathing suit I picked out in the fancy hotel gift shop!
What do you want people to do?
Go explore and make memories! Whether it is a place within driving distance of your house or halfway around the globe, go, go, go! You never know what life has in store for you around the corner. If you have the ability to go, just do it!