You’re thrilled by the low price you snagged on a weeklong tour of Ireland. But it’s in February—which you didn’t realize is one of Ireland’s rainiest months. Once you’re there, you can barely see the sights through the downpours and fog. Sure, you saved money. But, looking back, you may not have gotten a good value.

The key is in the timing. When you go, and when you book your trip, can determine whether you get the vacation you want.

So how do you get a great vacation value? See below to help you plan—and get—the vacation of your dreams:

To plan a vacation to Alaska

Best weather: From June through August in Alaska, you’ll find surprisingly pleasant temps—highs from 60 to 80 degrees. May is quite dry; by August, the chance of rainfall averages 50 percent daily.

For fewer crowds and lower prices: Go from mid-May to mid-June when you can spot wildlife newborns in Denali Park. Or go mid-August to mid-September, when you’ll have fewer fellow travelers and prices can be 10 to 25 percent lower.

Book your trip: A year in advance. For land vacations, book at least six months out to ensure the best availability and best rates.

One more thing: To plan a vacation to see the northern lights, go in January and February—and bundle up!

To plan a vacation to the Caribbean

Best weather: From December to April in the Caribbean, there’s little rainfall, it’s less humid and high temperatures are in the 70s and 80s.

For fewer crowds/lower prices: Go in May to June or late November to mid-December. Expect discounted prices, warm weather and minimal rain. But skip Easter week and spring break when family travel and prices pick up.

Book your trip: A year or more in advance. Book as soon as the cruise lines’ inventories open to grab a suite.

One more thing: Southern islands—such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Barbados—lie well below the Caribbean’s “hurricane belt” and are rarely affected by storms in hurricane season.

To plan a vacation to Europe

Best weather: For maximum sunshine, go during summer. However, heat-sensitive travelers may find temps uncomfortable in southern areas such as Italy and Croatia in the summer.

For fewer crowds/lower prices: Go April through May or September through October, when everything is cheaper, and there are warmer days and cooler nights!

Book your trip: Plan a vacation a year in advance. If you want to join a cruise or tour, check with your travel advisor for special AAA Member benefits.

One more thing: For a river cruise, travel in November or December to enjoy holiday markets. For more tips on river cruising, listen to the “Well-Traveled with AAA” podcast on iTunes or Spotify.

To plan a vacation to South America

Best weather: In the Southern Hemisphere, summer is November through February. It’ll be like taking an extra summer or spring vacation!

For fewer crowds/lower prices: A good time to visit many countries, including Peru, Chile and Brazil, is September through November. They enjoy springlike weather and sparser crowds.

Book your trip: Book as far in advance as you can because of limited capacity at popular sites like Machu Picchu and the Galapagos.

One more thing: January through February is the peak of the rainy season—when rain and fog may obscure views from Machu Picchu. Plan a vacation to visit the ruins from May to October, during the dry season.

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