Traveling over the holiday season can have its obstacles. Not only is travel during this time pretty pricey, but it is also full of potential weather delays. Winter storms in one area of the country can affect flight schedules across the nation.

But before all the travel concerns, you actually have to pick a ship and itinerary for you and your travel companions. Cruising during the holiday is an excellent way to see how multiple cultures experience and celebrate the holidays. Do you pick a ship that is going to be decked out for the holidays? What climate do you cruise too? When is the best time to book? Here are some tips to help you book your next holiday cruise:

  • Book early. The earlier you book your cruise, the easier it will be to keep an eye out for affordable airfare. You may not get the best deal on the cruise itself, but if you book during a sale then you are golden. The earlier you book your cruise, the earlier you can purchase your travel insurance plan to fully protect your investment.
  • Wait for the right flight. Booking a flight can sometimes be tricky. You’ve most likely booked your cruise a year or so prior to the departure date; flights are not necessarily going to be available that early. You need to juggle your flight purchase between being too early to avoid any flights being cancelled or rearranged and too late to avoid overspending for the tickets.
  • Research the itinerary. Unfortunately, around the holidays there isn’t much variety with the type of climate you can choose. Baltic cruises, Alaskan cruises and arctic cruises do not typically depart during this season, as the water is too icy or choppy. The Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Mediterranean are popular destinations for this time of the year. And now, with the increasing popularity of river cruises, you may even be able to find a European destination that catches your eye.
  • Bring festive gear. Depending on the cruise you choose, this can mean very different things. You could be decking your kids out in Santa hats with Mickey ears. You could be verifying your husband packed his Christmas tie that matches your red dress for formal dinner. You could be bringing your favorite bottle of champagne for the New Year’s celebration. (Be sure to read up on the cruise line’s alcohol policy before bringing any on board.) Just be prepared for the holidays away from home.