When most people think about layaway payment plans, they usually think about toys under a Christmas tree. The secret that most families don't realize is that vacation layaway payment options can also be a solution for trying to figure out how to pay for a family vacation.
So how does it work?
Plan Ahead. Hotels and airlines post their rates about 300 days in advance. Most people won't remember that number. Around the office at Vacationkids, we have a funny saying that holds a lot of truth: "Planning a family vacation is just like planning a family -- You need to work nine months in advance." Every parent we know can relate to the nine month timeline!
Technically cruise lines and theme parks post their availability and rates even sooner. The point here is that in order to create affordable monthly payments, you need to give yourself plenty of time. Here are some quick guidelines as to WHEN to start planning your family vacations in order to give yourself the best Vacation payment options...
Valentines day: Start shopping for next Thanksgiving and December holiday travel.
School's Out for Summer = Spring Break Holidays for the next school year.
Back to School: Book next year's summer vacation.
I hear you! It's hard to plan that far in advance with everyone's school, activities, sports and work schedules. Many of us don't know our schedules for next week, let alone next year. It's a shocker but if want the best rates, choice of rooms and airline seats and the ability to make layaway payments on your vacation, time is your friend. Planning ahead will also afford you the best rates and availability choices contrary to everyone's dream of finding that elusive last minute deal.
Make a Deposit: Most hotels, cruise ships and even Disney only require a small deposit to put your vacation on hold and confirm your trip. This normally can range from as little as $50 per person to a percentage of the total cost of your vacation. It all depends on the specific circumstances of your trip. Take Disney for example -- you can confirm your family's Disney park hotel, your park admission tickets and even a meal plan for as little as $200 total.
Set up a Monthly Payment Schedule. Most hotels, cruise lines and theme parks require your vacation to be paid in full about 60-45 days prior to your arrival. The balance of your trip can be divided into installment payments so that you are fully paid by this deadline. This can be done automatically via a credit card that you authorize for these payments.
What About Airline Tickets? Airfares are the "kicker" with this scenario. Usually the airlines require payment in full right up front. In this situation, obviously this means they do not qualify for a layaway payment plan. There ARE however, some vacation packages that DO offer flights that can be included in a vacation layaway program. These are usually charter airline flights that leave on specific dates from specific airports. Also parents are free to use frequent flyer miles or credit card reward points to purchase their flights which will also help to offset the total cost of their vacation.
Can I set up my own Vacation Layaway Online? Most large major online travel websites that allow the public to book their own trips require payment in full at the time you confirm your vacation and do not offer vacation layaway payment plans. This is one of those situations where it's best to work with a travel agent partner.
What Happens if Our Trip Goes On Sale last minute? In many cases, if your EXACT vacation goes on sale for a lower price, a travel agent will be able to have the sale price applied to your reservation. Also many travel insurance plans include "price protection insurance" and will reimburse you the difference between what you originally paid and any last minute sale price of your vacation.
Do I really need Travel Insurance? Nobody has a crystal ball. Often something as simple as a child with a last minute earache can ground a family's vacation plans. If you can afford to lose the entire cost of your vacation without cracking a sweat then you perhaps do not need travel insurance. That said, your family's medical coverage can change significantly when you are out of network and most doesn't cover you for travel outside of the U.S. So again, if you can whip out a credit card and afford to pay any unforeseen medical care, then you probably don't need insurance. For the rest of us, paying less than 10% of the cost of our vacation to give us peace of mind, travel insurance is a really good thing to have.
Can I keep payments small but booking far in advance? Travel agents can only set up payment plans for airline tickets, hotel rooms and cruise lines who have already published their rates and availability. Disney does offer their Disney Vacation Account Think of this like the "Bank of Disney" where you can set up a savings plan for a Disney vacation anytime in the future. Savings deposits can be set up automatically. When you're ready to go, your travel agent can put the perfect trip on hold for you. Then you simply transfer the required payments onto your reservation from your Disney Savings Account..
Your travel agent can also offer other creative ways to help you finance your family's vacation dreams and turn them into reality. Your family may be able to qualify for discounts or even free travel simply by inviting friends and family members to join in on all the fun.