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How to book a timeshare without owning one

Stay in a timeshare without owning one

We've stayed in lots of timeshares, yet we've never owned one.  We've done the timeshare tour once or twice to get the free two-night's stay.  But we're over that.  We choose not to own because we value the freedom to stay wherever we want, when we want.    

Here's the great thing about timeshares though: you can get a good deal on a timeshare stay without ever owning one or sitting through a presentation.  We've taken fantastic vacations (and saved loads of money!) staying at gorgeous properties simply by booking timeshare stays directly from timeshare owners.  

Quite often, we can get an amazing 2 bedroom condo cheaper than booking one nice hotel room.  Our absolute favorite timeshare rental so far is found at Big Cedar's Wilderness Club just south of Branson, Missouri.  Big Cedar is America’s Premier Wilderness Resort.

You can read about why we love Big Cedar here.

Lodging is a big piece to the puzzle when planning a vacation and we're open to all kinds of options.  We've camped, crashed with friends, crammed in a hotel room, and booked timeshare stays that we'll never own.  Our friends always ask how we do it. 

9 easy steps to booking a timeshare stay online

1)  Know your destination.  

Are you going to the beach, mountains, on a cruise, to a theme park, or an international destination?

2)  Know what you want to do and what kind of amenities you're looking for.   

Are you looking for swimming pools, spa treatments, kids clubs, sight-seeing, a variety of restaurants, or outdoor experiences?  Make a list and prioritize.

3)  Know what kind of lodging you are looking for.  

Do you want a fully outfitted kitchen or a kitchenette, or just a hotel room?  How many beds/bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?  Are you looking for a 2 bedroom, 1 bedroom, studio, or suite? Are you looking for a stand-alone cabin or a condo /lodge style room?  These are all key words you will use in the search bar when you visit ebay to search for timeshares to stay in.

4)  Know how many nights you want to stay.  

What is the average price you are willing to pay per night for lodging?  Know what you have budgeted for the total lodging cost.  


5)  Know your dates but be willing to be a bit flexible.  

If you really want to save money, consider checking in on a Sunday and leaving on a Friday morning or any of the days in between.  Weekends and holidays are the busiest times for resorts and the most expensive time to go.   

6)  Do some quick research online on the best timeshare resorts if you are flexible on location.  

I always click on images and look at reviews on TripAdvisor.  Some of the most popular ones are Starwood, Holiday Inn, Bluegreen, Wyndham, or RCI.  We've had good luck with Bluegreen and RCI.

7)  Go online to and head to the search bar.  

Get straight to the point.  For example, when I want to book a cabin at Big Cedar Wilderness Club, I enter the following into the search bar:  "big cedar 2 br cabin november 14-21 2016."  You can also search by city or destination, followed by the type of lodging you are looking for, and the dates.  Use the filter choices on the left sidebar to help you dwindle down the choices that show up.

8)  While searching eBaby, strive to buy from top rated sellers or those with 97% plus positive feedback.  

Be flexible.  If you don't see anything that suits your plans or dates, check back in a day or two.  New postings are always popping up.

9)  Make secure bookings and be ready to pay using a PayPal account.

If you don't already have a PayPal account, it takes only a moment to set it up and it's worth the peace of mind knowing that your payments are secure.  Check your email for your booking and print it out.  


Book a timeshare stay without owning one or going to a presentation

You can book in advance or snag fantastic last-minute deals with timeshare bookings this way.  As a couple, we've stayed in 4 star studio rooms for as little $39 per night during the week.  One summer, we booked 5 mid-summer nights in a 4 star, 2 bedroom cabin for a total of only $600.  

Try it for yourself and your search will pay off!

Have you tried this? What tips do you have?