MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Many people dream of taking a fabulous vacation, but paradise is often financially out of reach.
Now, a new trend lets travelers book their trips and pay for them later.
Most people probably associate “layaway” with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, but some travelers have used the age-old payment plan to make an easy getaway.
“You can put any kind of trip on layaway,” said AirfareWatchdog.com founder George Hobica.
Savvy travelers have started using layaway to book dream vacations and pay for them at a later date.
“It offers me the opportunity to put down very little money at the beginning,” said Richard Popkin.
Experts said that most families can’t afford to pay for a vacation up front.
“A typical vacation will cost $2,000 or $3,000 for a family of four,” said Hobica. “People just don’t have that money saved up.”
“Vaca Layaway,” as it is called, can help travellers pay for a trip over time in installments or in a lump sum before they take off.
“We empower the consumer to have the flexibility to book a vacation up to 18 months before the trip is going to take place,” said travel expert Marty Seslow.
Tough economic times have brought vacation layaway to the forefront, but it isn’t just for the budget conscious.
“We see the folks that are on a budget and a shoe-string budget taking advantage of this,” said Seslow. “And then we see folks at the higher end of the spectrum buying a more deluxe vacation experience.”
There are other benefits to traveling on layaway. According to experts, it affords travelers the opportunity to lock in the price of a trip and avoid credit card interest charges. However, not all plans are created equal. Some will refund money or help defer certain costs if problems arise, while others will not.
“You really have to make sure that you have some travel insurance and study the cancellation policies,” said Hobica.
Popkin said he will be going to South America in the fall.
“It’s a lot easier to make that decision to pounce or don’t pounce when it’s only a small amount of money,” said Popkin.
More cruise lines, resorts, and many travel agents are offering layaway as an option.