(WXYZ) - Richard Popkin and his wife Karol like to put their getaways on layaway.
"It offers me the opportunity to put down very little money at the beginning," Popkin says. "Making a decision by only having to put down $200 per person is, is certainly a lot better than if we had to pay for the whole trip."
The idea is to pay it off slowly in installments. The timing depends on the type of vacation you choose, but you must pay in full before you head to the airport.
"A typical vacation will cost two to three thousand dollars for a family of four," says George Hobica from AirfareWatchdog.com . "People just don't have that money saved up. You can put any kind of a trip on layaway. They're typically used for more expensive trips like cruises or a European vacation."
Marty Seslow, with Gate 1 Travel , says tough economic times brought vacation layaways to the forefront, but it's not just for the budget conscious.
"We see folks at the higher end of the spectrum buying a more deluxe vacation experience," Seslow says.
When you use layaway, you don't run up credit card interest changes and you have the benefit of locking in the price of that trip early on. But keep in mind...
"You do tie up your money, sometimes over several years, and that's money that you could probably be using for something else, so you're giving the company a free loan," says Hobica.
Like merchandise layaway plans, not all travel pay-as-you-go programs are equal. Some will refund your money or help you defer the trip if problems arise, but others might not.
"You really have to make sure that you have some travel insurance and study the cancellation policies," according to Hobica.