Okay – on the last article in this series, we left you with a final thought, “We will be covering the topic of Condo’s and Timeshares in the next segment – this is actually the way that we travel most often” …… so we have arrived to the part of our road trip travel savings where we are going to be spilling the beans on how we travel and stay at Condos and Timeshare Resorts! And please read the whole article before you think we’re telling you to buy a timeshare. 🙂
First, we thought this would be an appropriate article to post today as we are literally on the road as we speak heading to Breckenridge, CO for the Savvy Blogging Summit! The kids, grandparents, aunt, and soon-to-be uncle are hangin’ out with the thrifty kiddos having a party at our house in UT, while Thrifty Al and I learn how to become even better bloggers!
So while we sit back and enjoy our ride to Colorado, pull up a seat and read tips on how we have a luxury vacation on a measly budget and how you can too!
How to Save on Timshare Resorts and Condos (our favorite types of accomodations!)
Pros of staying at a Timeshare Resort or Condos:
- Typically very luxurious facilities and resorts (many upwards of 5-Star type!)
- Fully stocked (dishes, pans/pots, spices, etc) kitchens to cook your own food and DRAMATICALLY cut food costs
- Typically multiple bedrooms = better quality sleep for all
- The resorts typically have nice private pools, lounging areas, kids play areas
- They usually have a schedule of activities for kids and adults all day during your stay (most of which will be FREE because you are staying at the resort!)
- Great locations
- Typically higher security than a hotel/motel
- FREE laundry service right in your room/condo (of course you do it yourself ;))
- More comfortable, spacious, and relaxing (everyone can have their own space)
Cons of staying at a Timeshare Resort or Condo:
- Usually does not have a daily maid service
- There are many cleaning and janitorial tasks that you need to complete before checkout on the last day
- Usually also have to “take inventory” and verify that you have gone through and made sure everything is there (that you haven’t taken anything ;)) on the last day – and “sign off” on it!
- Not as flexible travel dates – usually a full/half week at a time (starting Friday, Saturday or Sunday and checking out a week later)
- Typically miss out on the hotel “FREE breakfasts.”
- Limited locations – usually only resort type areas – you cannot find them everywhere
- Usually best for going-and-staying type of vacations – if you are planning on staying in many different towns this isn’t for you
Okay – so you may be asking yourself , “is The Thrifty Couple telling us to go out and purchase into a Timeshare???” The short and long answer is NO! Even though we travel this way often, but we do not actually even own a timeshare or a condo. This is where this post comes into play – how can you travel this way without the initial high cost and investment?
Here’s how we do it:
This is the most common way to sleep while on vacation! It can also be the most costly of the options from the list above! There are a few tricks that we have learned to help stretch this portion of the vacation budget!
- Set a budget Like we have mentioned before – this is key to keeping you on track.
- First, be willing to be flexible with your travel dates, NOT travel during peak season for that area and possibly allow for a broader geographical area as well for best options!
- Visit sites like vacationtimesharerentals.com, homeaway.com, vacationrentals.com, or do a google search for words like: “timeshare rentals, condo rentals, timeshare week rental, etc. including your desired location”
- Just like how we “shop” for hotel rooms, we use these site to find our “price point,” that is the price we need to beat and to help us determine the resorts in the area that are the lowest cost with the amenities that we want.
- We have yet to actually make a reservation and purchase a week’s rental through one of these sites for the number one reason: so far, we have always been able to beat the price!!
- Then we start searching on each individual resort’s site for deals, email lists for offers and then also act as if you are going to make a reservation through their site directly to see what prices you get. Compare with the prices from the popular timeshare/condo sites above.
- Our next step is searching ebay.com in the travel section and search for timeshare resorts/condos that are in the area we want to travel to! You can get VERY riduculously low prices by purchasing your stay off Ebay! There are a couple of tricks to Ebay travel shopping:
- Be careful that your timeshare/condo stay does NOT require any type of timeshare presentation – you are essentially looking for travel companies that are selling the overstock, or current timeshare owners that are selling their weeks at low rates. Please read every listing carefully – and email the Ebay seller if you are not sure!
- Bid at the last few minutes for the auction type of listings – if you bid too early, you have a greater chance of needing to up your bids quite a bit to win!
- Many of the listings will be for travel for very specific dates – again make sure you are reading all of the details on the listing!
- Be prepared to score some absolutely killer deals!!
As an example – I took a screen shot of a few listings that were on Ebay at the time I wrote this post! There were over 2,600 listings in the vacation rentals subcategory of the travel section, and here’s a screen shot of a few listed:
As you can see, the prices are so ridiculously cheap! Break down the cost of the first one for example: the Kauai Hawaii at $650 (buy it now price) for 7 nights in a 2-bdrm luxury condo = $93 a night!!
- Before you make some final bids on Ebay, check your local classifieds (in the newspaper and online) as well as Craig’s List for travel listings! Many owners are just trying to sell their week’s for that year to help cover the costs of their maintenance fees and you can usually score some sweet deals by checking those resources! In this case, you are also directly working with the seller, so usually a little more security in purchasing. I also searched from one of our local popular classifieds: KSL Classifieds here in Utah, below shows to examples of local sellers that are trying to sell their timeshare weeks and as you can see – you can get them really cheap!!
Here’s the honest truth from us! We have purchased a condo off of Ebay once and it was a wonderful experience!! The other times, we have purchased off classified ads, and once from searching the internet and finding a listing from an individual seller posted on a timeshare rental site! Everytime, we have paid less than $600 a for a full week for our family of 6, plus many times, guests traveling with us (in which they help cover costs even more so!).
As a real life experience, one of the first times that we bought a week was the one on Ebay. We had to make last minute plans to head to Scottsdale, AZ for the week of Christmas to be with our grandfather who had just been diagnosed with cancer. Our immediate family went, and my parents and sister. There was a total of 4 adults and 4 children at the time. We popped onto Ebay and happened to find a 5-Star luxury 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom resort in Scottsdale, AZ (Scottsdale Links Resort – the pictures shown are EXACTLY what ours looked like!) for $450 for the WHOLE WEEK during Christmas just a couple of weeks before leaving!! After splitting this cost with my parents – we ended up paying $225 for a full week for us! WOWZA!! Considering that as a non-owner, these rooms go for $299 a night, I’d say we got a steal of a deal. Since then, we have been hooked (when it was still in our budget of course) to try and vacation this way when we could, and have been able to score these kinds of deals with the tricks shared above 😉 We have calculated, from our limited knowledge of timeshare ownership, that we have been able to stay at resorts like this for less than the average cost of the annual membership fees paid by the average timeshare owner – not even considering the initial investment involved.
Finally, what we really want to share with you is our mantra. We love to save in every area of life! When we travel and stay at a condo, although it initially appears you are spending more ($450 for a week looks expensive!!) it is actually much cheaper than a hotel!! When you factor in that you have a full kitchen (that we cook most of our meals in – and with a full-sized kitchen we love to make very special family meals!) you can now save that much more by not eating out!! Finally, while staying in the condo you don’t need to get “out of the room as quickly as possible because you are cramped!”, but can rather stretch out, relax, and enjoy the vacation you were hoping to enjoy! We love to vacation this way – and we love how much money we save while doing it!!
Don’t miss our full four-part series on taking a road trip – thrifty style of course!
- Part I: Prepare Your Vehicle
- Part II: The Actual Ride
- Part III: How To Sleep Financially Sound – Hotel, Motel, Resorts
- Part IV: Staying At Timeshare Resorts and Condos