If you can't settle up all at once, three travel companies will now let you pay bit by bit.
Gate 1 Travel has made its 450 vacation packages easier to afford: After putting down a deposit of $100 to $200 to reserve your spot, you can pay off your balance on its website, gate1travel.com, in as many installments as you'd like (there's no required minimum for each one). The only hitch: The total must be taken care of at least 45 days before departure for land trips, and four months in advance for cruises, or you'll lose your place and deposit (the rest of your money will be refunded). Fee: none.
Late last year, Hyatt became the first hotel group to start selling gift certificates on elayaway.com, a website where users pay piecemeal for furniture, clothes, jewelry—you name it. After you decide on a layaway plan (for example, 10 installments of $20 each for a $200 card), the money is deducted from your bank account each month. When you're all paid up, the certificate is redeemable for rooms or meals at nearly 400 of the group's hotels around the world. Fee: 1.9 percent of the cost of the certificate.
New York City hotels
All it takes to book a room at one of the five Manhattan hotels operated by Apple Core Hotels (applecorehotels.com) is a $20 deposit. The rest of your tab can then be settled in several payments up to the date of your stay. Apple Core's got your back, too, if the room rate goes up—you're locked in at the price you reserved. Rooms at the five hotels start at $130 per night. Fee: none.
Title: Laid Off Take Off
Deal: If you've lost your job this year, there's a new incentive to travel—15 percent off 400 of Intrepid Travel's vacation packages.