After becoming a DVC member last spring and then adding on this past fall, I feel like I’ve had a crash course on DVC trip planning. Luckily, I learned a lot from the DISboards, vlogs, blogs, and fellow DVC members like those in the DVC Fan Facebook Group. Here, I’m summing up some of the top trip planning mistakes I have learned to avoid:
Missing the 11-Month or 7-Month Window
This is probably rule number one with DVC planning. Missing the mark can mean being shut out of the villa you want. Now that I’m balancing two contracts, I’ve resorted to setting annual calendar reminders to ensure I don’t miss our booking windows.
Not Banking Points on Time
My motto is no point left behind! Be sure to bank any leftover points no later than four months before the end of your Use Year. Worst case scenario, at least try renting out your leftover points. This is another scenario where having calendar reminders is really helpful. Since my contracts have a February Use Year, I have an annual calendar reminder set for the September banking deadline.
Deciding on a Split Stay After The Fact
The first few times I booked vacations, I made sure to book our home resort right at 11-months but later thought it would be fun to do a split stay to try someplace new. However, I didn’t realize that I couldn’t just modify part of my trip online; I am only able to do that with the help of Member Services over the phone. Moving forward, I know that I can plan a split stay in advance by booking two separate trips at the 11-month mark and altering one or both of them at the 7-month mark.
Waiting to Book by Phone Instead of Online
It isn’t necessarily a mistake to book by phone. In fact, one of my family friends who has owned at the BoardWalk since the ‘90s still books all of her vacations by phone. However, if you are trying to book during a popular season, I realized you’ll most likely have better availability when booking your reservation online since it opens at 8 am ET, an hour before phone reservations open.
Changing Plans Too Late
Be careful if you’re looking to modify your reservation. If the new reservation requires fewer points than the original one, the leftover points may go into holding if you are 30 days out or less from your vacation. Once your points are in holding, it means that you have to use these points within the current Use Year, and you can only use them to make a reservation up to 60 days in advance. This is why points in holding are much harder to use.
Borrowing Points But Changing Plans Later
Banking and borrowing points are final transactions; once those points are moved to another year, you cannot move them back. If you borrow points to plan a trip and then later modify your plans, be sure to use all of the borrowed points. Otherwise, they can get stuck in a year in which you don’t need points. For example, I needed to borrow points to book a Boardwalk View studio for October 2020. I wanted to waitlist a Standard View studio to save points, but I realized that if the waitlist came through, I could lose points. There was a 19 point difference between the Boardwalk View reservation and Standard View reservation, so the excess points that I borrowed would be stuck in our 2020 Use Year. This is problematic since we don’t have any other trips to plan before the end of our 2020 Use Year.
What are some DVC trip planning tips that you learned from experience?