If you’re reading this, it’s likely time for you to make a big decision. No, not whether or not to get married, but where you’ll go for your honeymoon! Regardless of where you are in your search—fantasizing about piña colada at the pool or just moments away from hitting the “Buy” button on a Caribbean vacation—take a few minutes to consider a few things. Here are 10 tips to help you choose the perfect beach honeymoon destination.

Start planning now

No rush, but you may want to go ahead and book your honeymoon as soon as possible. The best beach vacation options for airfare and lodging fill up quickly and prices generally go up the closer to your departure date it is. According to Abby Oliver, BookIt.com Senior Director, Caribbean, “Booking early for peak travel periods is key. Resorts typically fill up fast and either their rates will increase due to demand or they will be completely sold out.” Aim to book at least 120 days in advance. And if you’re redeeming loyalty points, you’ll need to book as soon as six months early. On the plus side, research shows that anticipating travel makes people happier, so having concrete plans in place will make your dreams sweeter for longer. Besides, who wants to scramble the week before their wedding trying to book plans?

How long can you go?

Saving money for a once-in-a-lifetime trip isn’t easy even for the cheapest beach vacations, but it could be less painful than requesting time off from work. Be sure to have the conversation about your vacation with your boss sooner than later—definitely before you’ve booked anything. The advanced notice will give her an opportunity to rearrange staffing or schedules as necessary, which she’ll appreciate. Given that the typical amount of time spent on a beach honeymoon vacation is 5-7 days, you may also want to discuss taking time off without pay if you’re short on PTO.

Understand your budget

Weddings are expensive. So are honeymoons. And starting off your new life as a married couple isn’t exactly pleasant when you’re in debt. That’s why it’s important to discuss with your partner to prioritize and set a realistic budget for your expenses. “Costs for a week’s vacation can vary greatly depending on the hotel and plan—room-only or all-inclusive,” says Karina Varela, BookIt.com Senior Director, Mexico and Latin America. “$1500 to $2000 per guest for a 7-night stay is ballpark.” Plan accordingly.

Timing: your big day, weather, and holidays

Decide whether you’ll be jetting off to paradise the day after your wedding or waiting until several months later so you’ll have a chance to recover. Once that’s settled, look up historical weather data for the month you’re planning to go to make sure you’re not going during the rainy season…that is unless you’re planning to never leave your hotel. Many consider the best time to visit the Caribbean or Latin America to be between December and April when it’s slightly cooler, drier, and less humid. Since many newlyweds don’t yet have children, vacationing during the school year can save money and offer a less crowded escape since school breaks are typically more crowded with families. US holidays naturally correspond to bigger crowds, with Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s being crush time. “Mexico peak seasons are New Year’s, Easter, and summer vacation,” Varela says. “Rates tend to be higher at those times.” You can have a great honeymoon pretty much any time of year, so if you’re flexible, consider the off-seasons.

Current events

For the most part, sandy beach resorts and tourist destinations are safe havens somewhat detached from the areas in which they’re located. “Tourism destinations are very protective of tourists,” Oliver says. “They tend to be very safe in hotel zones.” Even still, you’ll want to check the latest news pertaining to your list of favorited places. The US Department of State alerts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notices provide pertinent warnings that could affect your plans, but take these reports with a grain of salt: “There is crime in every city in the world,” Varela says. “Use common sense and good judgment and you’ll have a wonderful vacation.”

Active vs. relaxing

Do you love vacations with fully planned days of activities like scuba and hiking? Or do you prefer lounging on the beach with a drink in one hand and a magazine in the other? Discuss your travel priorities with your partner. Once you’ve settled on what type of honeymoon you want you can start making choices about your destination. Adventurous types should check out Costa Rica, St. Lucia, and Jamaica. If you love partying, try Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, or something in town on one of the Caribbean islands. If you prefer something more chill, then check out Riviera Maya and Los Cabos.

All-Inclusive options

Your honeymoon is a time to relax, take a break from “the real world”, and celebrate your love and commitment to one another. It’s not the time to worry about budget, and stress over how big your bill will be at the end of your vacation! That’s why all-inclusive resorts are such a great way to enjoy all the luxuries a resort has to offer with one up-front price. Order what you want: drinks by the pool? Sure! Late night room service? No problem! Besides the carefree convenience, All-inclusive honeymoons packages can help stretch your dollars, particularly if you like to eat and drink, as the cost of meals and alcohol are included in the price. Some destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America even have adults-only options like Sandals resorts for newlyweds who prefer a quieter, more tranquil vibe.

We hope this list will help make your big day all the more special, knowing you have your honeymoon taken care of like a pro!

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