June 24, 2007

Freedom and Opportunity for the future: Fun and a bit scary...

Yesterday, my wife and I joined a sort of timeshare club called AviaWest. Instead of owning a piece of a particular property, and getting a window of a week or more scheduled in which to stay in the property, the membership fee earns you an annual allotment of points which can be used to pay for lodging at any of AviaWest's accommodations. They have a luxury high-rise hotel on Robson Street in Vancouver, an English-style B&B in Victoria and large nature-oriented resorts in Tofino and Parksville. You can also pick from thousands of resorts and hotels all over the world, through AviaWest's parent organization, RCI.

At best, we've only ever been able to afford one big holiday trip every few years. In between those, we may take smaller local trips around the lower mainland or be tourists in our own town by getting an off-season room at some classy local hotel.

Over the years, my wife and I have discussed a number of different retirement scenarios:
  1. Sell our condo one day and buy or rent a high-rise in False Creek. Travel more often - at least one trip per year.
  2. Get out of the city a bit and get a place somewhere on the island, near Nanaimo, Parksville or SaltSpring Island. Travel more often - at least one trip per year.
  3. Stay put, pay out the mortgage, and live there for free. Travel more often - at least one trip per year.

All those scenarios share a common element: increased travel. I see travel as the only way to really learn about other places and to meet other people. I get so much information about other cultures and places from the media or entertainment, that I feel as if I've experienced them, but it's not true - just an impression.

So, it seems likely that this timeshare-like points membership thing is a good deal. It will save us money on travel expenses and motivate us to vacate more regularly. This is definitely the fun part. I still want to do some price comparisons of my own to see how soon this membership will pay for itself. It's basically like an investment, and I guess a long-term view is the best approach.

The only scary part (just a little scary, mind you, not much) is upfront membership cost. The membership fee and other one-time fees, total over $17,000. This is the one-time initial membership, plus first-month's maintenance fee and other things. The fact that this is a lifetime membership and that the annual renewal is comparatively very cheap, really softens the blow. I think taking our first trip or two and seeing the bills afterwards will definitely put my mind to rest too.

The ability to travel and see new places and meet new people is a luxury and a privilege that we're fortunate to be able to enjoy.

June 20, 2007

Palm Sketch: June 20, 2007

Man reading at Starbucks, June 20, 2007.

Man reading at Starbucks, June 20, 2007.

This sketch was done on a Palm Treo PDA.