If you are planning a week on vacation and want to save money on accommodation, timeshare rentals offer a great deal if you are going to be at a destination where timeshares are plentiful. Often you can save money over what you would spend at a comparable hotel and in all cases you'll have a lot more room. Plus it is really nice to have a kitchen or kitchenette during your vacation. Just think of the savings there.
You can rent a timeshare from owners who won't be using their week, owners who make a business out of renting their timeshares, resorts with rooms to fill and exchange companies that have an excess of weeks available.
Depending on where you want to go, you may want to book your timeshare rental quite early - as much as several months in advance. But for many destinations, you shouldn't have any problems finding a place the week before you intend to visit. For example, you can easily find a timeshare to rent in Orlando at just about any time of year. With the exception of the Keys, there are plenty of Florida timeshares you can rent.
If you want to visit Key Largo or some popular spots along the California coast, however, I recommend that you start making plans several months in advance. Both areas have limited numbers of timeshares so they book up quickly.
How to find a timeshare to rent
For finding rentals, you have lots of options. Even Ebay will have tons of timeshares listed for rent and that's a good place to start your search. You can see some of the listings available here to give you an idea of prices. Actually, both Ebay and Craigslist are great places to look for bargains on last minute timeshare rentals.
Other popular places to search are RedWeek.com, MyResortNetwork.com and VRBO.com (which stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner).
If you actually own a timeshare, then your best rentals deals are usually going to be through one of the timeshare exchange programs. Both Interval International and RCI have programs where owners can rent weeks without using their own timeshares for Exchanges.
I'm not that familiar with Interval International's program, but RCI has two options. There's Extra Vacations Getaways, which lets you book as far as a year in advance. Or Last Call vacations which are all for weeks that are less than 45 days out. This represents some pretty big savings.
When I went to Florida this past winter, I used a combination of Last Calls, Extra Vacations and my own timeshare weeks to stay down there for nearly 3 months. During New Years week, I spent just over $600 to spend a week on the beach on the Gulf coast.
For most of my trip though, each week that I rented a timeshare only cost me about $250 a week, including taxes, for a 1 bedroom condo. That's because Last Call vacation weeks are extra inventory that RCI hasn't been able to fill. It's kind of like getting a great airfare deal on Priceline. Getting some money for the airline is better than having empty seats. For timeshares, getting some money is better than having an empty unit.
More articles about timeshares
- Ebay Timeshare Sales
If you are thinking about taking the plunge and buying at timeshare, I recommend Ebay as your first shopping stop. I've bought two timeshares there and here's my advice on searching for the right offer and handling the sale.
- Timeshares Guide - Timeshares Reviews and Advice
Start here for all of my timeshare articles on buying and selling, and how to get the most out of your ownership. Plus info about various timeshare systems and companies and hints for handling timeshare presentations.
Buying vs Renting Timeshares
One thing to think about as well is whether it makes sense for you to own a timeshare or whether you might be better off sticking to rentals. Both options have their pros and cons, but one big advantage of renting is that you don't have to worry about being locked into paying the annual maintenance fee.
You also save the upfront cost on buying a timeshare. On the other hand, you can find some very cheap timeshares for sale and owning pretty much guarantees that you will always get to go where you want to go and when you want to go there.
If you are still trying to decide whether timesharing is right for you though, spending a few years renting a timeshare for your vacations makes sense. You can visit different resorts and destinations and get a feel for different timeshare companies and what their service and staff is like at their resorts.
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