Timeshares have their benefits—mostly familiarity and the security of knowing exactly where you’ll spend your vacation. But their disadvantages can pile up. They’re not cost-effective, they’re prone to fees, you have little flexibility in scheduling vacations, and they’re difficult to sell. On top of that, even if your financial circumstances change, you are still liable for all timeshare costs. Before you sign a contract and commit to a timeshare, here are the top alternatives to getting a timeshare.
As the traditional vacation accommodation choice, hotels offer convenience, comfort, amenities, and proximity to attractions. Hotel costs run high or low, depending on demand, but even high, one-time hotel fees cost less than timeshare payments over the years. Also, hotel fees are often negotiable, rooms are cheaper off-season, and there are multiple discounts available to club members, seniors, ex-military personnel, and other professionals. It may not be exactly like home, but when you’re on vacation, do you really need to pay for another house?
Maybe the cookie-cutter feel of a hotel room isn’t for you. In that case, consider staying at a bed-and-breakfast. A bed-and-breakfast provides a homier feel, home-cooked breakfasts (and sometimes other meals), and other amenities that hotels don’t usually offer, such as bicycles, boats, sports equipment, and often a beautiful view. A bed-and-breakfast can be urban, rural, or somewhere in-between. The owners know the area like the backs of their hands, and, if you like to socialize, the morning meal is a great way to meet new people. It may not be your place, but it is someone’s home.
Instead of purchasing a home far away, you can buy a home you can take anywhere. Campers and other recreational vehicles provide freedom in spades. You will have to pay fees to park and hook up to utilities at an RV or mobile park, resort, or campground, but that ends once you leave, and you can almost always leave when you want to. Heading out for the highway will connect you with a pre-existing network of RV, mobile home, and camper owners, too, once again adding a socializing element to it all.
Cabins, Lodges, and Camping
Do you like to rough it—or maybe rough it comfortably? When considering the top alternatives to getting a timeshare, think about setting up camp somewhere. Between national and state parks, private campsites, and rural property owners who allow camping, there are plenty of places to pitch a tent, set up a campfire, and gaze at the stars. If the tent scene isn’t to your tastes, look into the availability of accommodations at a national or state park. Lodges and cabins provide a rustic and historical vibe that no timeshare could ever match.