(Check out my latest appearance on The Changed Physician Podcast where we discuss finding the right job as a physician on the first try which will save you $175,000 and a lot of headaches.)
For the last few winters we have taken an RV trip to warmer weather in January thru March. This year we decided to leave our RV home and use timeshare trades. I strung together three back-to-back timeshares in Southern Texas: San Antonio, Austin, and Galveston.
The cost for trade fees, RCI membership and maintenance fees came to just under $1,200, or about $400 a week. Another example dispelling the misconception that timeshares are expensive. Staying at a Motel Six would have cost more.
Our biggest miscalculation about the trip was the temperature. We packed for Phoenix, Arizona, our usual destination, but it felt like being in Anchorage, Alaska. Despite the colder than expected weather we had fun. Here is my recap of the trip.
San Antonio, Texas
We flew from Medford, Oregon to San Antonio, Texas. I made the mistake of booking the early morning flight which meant the taxi picked us up at 3:15 AM. I need to stop booking those silly super early flights that cost me a night of sleep. I’m retired and can fly anytime I want, so why did I pick that time? Because it was cheaper! Old habits are hard to break.
We arrived in San Antonio and picked up our rental car at the airport and plan to return it to the Houston airport when we fly home. Our timeshare was Club Wyndham Riverside Suites, right on the River Walk loop.
Our room was not on the river side of the building, so we didn’t have a spectacular view, but we relaxed on their rooftop deck that overlooked the Riverwalk. We had a living room/kitchen combo with a bathroom and a bedroom. There was no gym or pool on site so we had access to their sister property about a quarter mile away that had these amenities, but we didn’t use them.
We loved walking along the beautiful Riverwalk every day. Our location was half a mile from the concert venue, the Tower of the Americas, the grocery store and many sightseeing spots. We actually never took the car out of the parking garage and in hindsight, we could have saved a week of car rental and parking fees.
We made our own breakfast each morning in our kitchen. Then we would eat out somewhere close by every afternoon. One evening we ate just after sunset at the Chart House, which is a revolving restaurant on top of the Tower of the Americas about 700 feet high. It was a beautiful setting to see the lights of San Antonio. We also dined at Landry’s Seafood House, twice at the Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant, Paesanos Italian, and at La Margarita Mexican Restaurant. All these meals were fantastic.
One day I got up early to have breakfast with a friend from the San Antonio area. We ate at The Guenther House which is a beautiful historic home and museum. The atmosphere was good, but the food was not.
While in San Antonio we saw the Tower of the Americas, The Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, the Historic Market Square, La Villita Historic Village, a Pink Martini concert, we took the hop on hop off bus tour, the river walk boat tour, and we spent many hours walking the river walk.
The temperature was not the 70 degrees and sunny we anticipated, but we enjoyed our time in San Antonio none the less. When I walked 1.2 miles to breakfast the temperature was 37 degrees, burr.
We chose to go to Austin on a friend’s recommendation for a big city experience in the live music capital of Texas. We drove 80 miles to WorldMark Austin, located downtown near the capital building with a typical big city parking garage which was $30 a night with in and out privileges.
The timeshare was about 20 stories tall with our unit on the 8th floor. We had a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. This unit also had a washer and dryer, allowing us to do our laundry without leaving our unit. Planning to do laundry in the middle of a long trip cuts down on the amount of luggage needed. Our combined luggage consisted of one checked bag, two carry-on bags and our lap top computers as a personal item. There was a rooftop pool that was closed for construction, but it was too cold to use anyway. They also had a nice gym available.
We spent our first day in nearby Georgetown meeting up with some friends. We had brunch at the Monument Café (which was great and very popular), and dinner at El Monumento Mexican restaurant (also great) after a walk in the Blue Hole Park. The town square was voted the best town square in Texas, but I was not as impressed as the Texans who voted.
On Sunday we had a nice brunch at Walton’s, which I’m told is owned by Sandra Bullock. After a trip to the grocery store, we returned to our room to attend our home church’s online service. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching movies.
Monday was the start of a cold spell, with temperatures around 32 degrees and a wind-chill factor of 23 degrees. We spent the day in the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. I love visiting presidential libraries and we have been to several. We then had dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. I’m allergic to shrimp and almost every item on the menu contained shrimp, but I was able to find a very good choice without shrimp.
This day turned out to be our final adventure in Austin. That night an ice storm hit Texas shutting down the city. The temperature dropped below freezing for 67 hours in Austin while it continued to rain, so the town turned into a giant icicle. We had a beautiful view out our eighth-floor window with ice hanging from the powerlines and all the trees were frosted with ice.
This storm shut down everything. Schools and businesses were closed, and the authorities were asking everyone to stay home and not be out on the icy streets. For the next three days we didn’t even leave our room. Luckily, we had gone grocery shopping and our kitchen was stocked with food. We were also lucky to not be one of the 140,000 people in Austin who lost power, mostly due to trees falling on powerlines.
By the time the roads were thawed it was Friday and time for us to move to our final town. We had several other things planned to do in Austin, all of which got canceled by the storm.
We left Austin for a four-hour drive to Galveston. Along the way we listened to an audio book from our library. When we were close to our destination we stopped for lunch at a Japanese restaurant, went grocery shopping, and filled the gas tank. We needed to get our supplies before reaching our beach front timeshare which was half-hour away from any services. This week was for relaxing on the beach.
We checked into the Peregrine Townhomes Timeshare at San Luis Pass. This was a townhome on stilts with parking on the first level, the living room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom on the second level and two bedrooms and another bath on the third level. Each level had a deck on both sides, so we had four decks overlooking the ocean.
The facility had a pool and a laundry room. We could walk right out onto the beach which stretched as far as we could see in both directions. Finally, we got the weather we were seeking with blue skies and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.
The next day we drove into Galveston and walked through the historic Strand district, which has several beautiful buildings built before the civil war. During our walk we stopped for ice cream and found a Christmas tree ornament to represent the trip in one of the many shops we visited. We buy an ornament on every trip and reminisce about our travels when we decorate our tree every year.
We then met some friends for dinner at Gaido’s seafood restaurant which is over a hundred years old. The food was fabulous and the company even better.
Sunday we spent watching our home church service, walking the beach, watching movies and reading books.
Monday we went back into Galveston and toured the Ocean Star Offshore Oil Drilling Rig and museum. Very fascinating and highly recommended. Afterward we ate next door at Katie’s Seafood House. Their seafood nachos are fabulous. The next few days were spent relaxing at the timeshare reading, writing and walking on the beach.
One of our beach walks was especially interesting. We came upon the Blue Water Grill and thought it might be nice to drop in for a snack and use the restroom. After a great meal of fish tacos and a margarita, the bill came. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my wallet on this beach walk. Carolyn didn’t have any money with her either.
We explained our predicament to the waitress who told us we were not the first to do this. She let us go and asked us to call her and pay over the phone after we got back to the timeshare. She didn’t even ask for our names. It was embarrassing to live out a scene from a sit com where after eating a nice dinner you realize you don’t have any money to pay the bill. Glad we didn’t have to wash dishes.
Our final day was spent packing, driving two hours to Houston, and catching our plane home. This time we had an afternoon flight, so we got a normal night’s sleep before going home.
One thing we did almost every day during the trip was exercise to the DVDs for P90X, my favorite workout routine. We brought bands for the resistance training. We also attended church services online every Sunday, wrote blogs, read books, and listened to audio books when we walked and drove.
All in all, it was another happy timeshare trip for us happy timeshare owners. Read about why I feel timeshares are one of the best and most inexpensive ways to travel in my book A Guide to Loving Your Timeshare. You will easily understand why I am one of the millions of happy timeshare owners traveling all over the world. Hoping to meet you all on my travels someday.