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The specific promotions described in this article have now passed, but it remains online so that the resources named will be of future use to travelers.

Avoiding the high-season race for pool chairs in the sun or a spot on the ski lift is every vacationer's dream. To get the best seats at the best prices, schedule a trip during shoulder season, the in-between period that separates high season and low season but still offers most if not all of the amenities and great weather that characterize the prime time to visit your favorite destinations. If you act fast, you can jump on some pre-season shoulder packages priced at the budget level.

The Mediterranean can enjoy warm and hot temperatures through the first of the year. Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a six-night vacation to Malta in the deep Mediterranean. The air/land combination trip to Malta starts at $879 for travel from November 1 to December 15, 2006. Booking deadline falls tomorrow, Thursday, November 16, 2006. Accommodations available at the low-priced budget level are at the Sliema Chalet Hotel, a 63-room hotel near beaches, restaurants and nightclubs. Rooms are distributed on a first-come first-serve basis by the management with the 27 rooms with terraces overlooking the Mediterranean usually going first. The trip departs from Newark Airport. Departures from other cities such as Boston ($20); Atlanta, Baltimore and Cincinnati (all $120); and Chicago and Miami ($130) are additional. Airport transfers in Malta are included in the price of this package. The town of Sliema has a seafront promenade with views of the Malta hills and the coastline.

With summer (and summer prices) over in the cities of Western Europe, Paris offers exceptionally good value for travel before Christmas. Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is offering a six-day, four-night Paris Vacation Special starting at $499 for a December 6, 2006 departure. Prices increase on other departure dates to approximately $549, $649 and $569 as we move toward high season and spring. The trip includes roundtrip airfare from the United States, four nights' accommodations, daily breakfast and airline fuel surcharges. A six-day special lasting from November 7, 2006 until March 7, 2007 costs just $499 if you take a Tuesday and Thursday departure. Air security taxes and departure fees are not included in either the Gate 1 Travel or Go-Today deals.

Shoulder season ski deals take advantage of less crowded slopes and early bird travel discounts. A Thanksgiving special that doesn't charge normally bloated holiday prices can be purchased from Ski.com (tel. 800/778-8589; www.ski.com). The package includes a four-day stay and ski special to Main Street Junction in Breckinridge, Colorado that costs $610 with travel good from November 22 to December 15, 2006. In all, this trip delivers four days' accommodations, three days of skiing, and a full-size rental car with airport pick-up and drop off. The lodge is just 100 yards to the ninth peak of the mountain, meaning you can practically ski out of the lodge's door. It's best to consistently check the weather conditions when booking a shoulder season ski package. Right now at Breckinridge snow conditions are listed as "packed powder" with 11 inches of snow having fallen in the past seven days and four lifts are currently open. This ski season looks very promising out west as Colorado's well-reported early season snow fall is already luring professional snowboarders and skiers. Weather reports out of Denver for the mountains expect 20 more inches of snow to fall this week.

Travel to warm-weather havens in the Caribbean Islands or Bahamas can also be extremely price-reduced during the pre-Christmas travel and travel booking season. Liberty Travel (tel. 888/271-1584; www.libertytravel.com) has a slew of package deals available through its Caribbean Sale where booking by November 30, 2006 will get you great savings for travel good from January 1 to March 9, 2007. Available trips include package deals to Antigua, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Prices start as low as $315 (with a savings of $115) for a three-night trip to the Nassau Palm Resort that includes airfare, accommodation and hotel tax. For travel with immediate pre-Christmas shoulder season departures, Liberty Travel has a deal to Montreal, Canada with travel good from November 15, 2006 to March 31, 2007. The three-night trip (the third night is free) with accommodations at the four-star Fairmont Queen Elizabeth costs $349 out of Atlanta, $375 out of Chicago, $435 out of Dallas, and $519 from New York. A $50 food and beverage credit is also included in the trip. You need to book the Montreal trip by January 31, 2007. The airfares listed are based on Sunday to Wednesday departures. Air security taxes and departure fees are not included.