updated 1/19/2009 10:16:17 AM ET 2009-01-19T15:16:17

The deal
Sure, the temps outside may be downright frigid, but that doesn’t mean your travel calendar has to freeze up. In fact, this brief post-holiday period — when most people have just dished out for expensive holiday airfares and aren’t necessarily looking to travel anytime soon — is one of the best times of year to take advantage of gargantuan travel savings, especially when it comes to flights. We’ve dug up some exceptional fare sales — featuring rates from just $45 each-way — to help you kick off your 2009 travels to Florida beaches, U.S. ski slopes, European cities and beyond.

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Top U.S. destinations from $45 one way
The deal: Take off to Florida beaches, bustling cultural capitals (such as Los Angeles, New York City or San Francisco) and dozens of more popular locales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico at fares that are about $10 to $20 lower (each way) than those we saw through most of 2008. Plus, travel is valid well into the mild days of spring.

Sample One-Way Fares: Atlanta–Charleston $45; Boston–Miami $105; Chicago–Ft. Myers $85; NYC–Richmond $55; DC–Orlando $82; and more.

The catch: The lowest rates are only available for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays.

Travel by: May 20

Book By: Jan. 15 (a 10-day advance purchase is required)

Last-minute domestic flights from $126 (round trip)
The deal: As airlines attempt to fill up empty seats, you can nab some terrific savings on round-trip flights leaving this weekend or next — expect savings of 10 to 40 percent off of standard fares.

Sample round-trip fares: DC–NYC $126; Philadelphia–Orlando $146; LA–Vegas $146; Denver–LA $186; Jacksonville–Chicago $216; and more

The catch: Deals fluctuate regularly and are limited in supply — if you see a good deal, grab it on the spot!

Travel by: This weekend

Book by: ASAP

Fares to Colorado and Wyoming slopes from $187 (round trip)
The deal: Head out to hit top U.S. slopes in peak ski season, without having to fork over heaps of cash. Ski destinations throughout Colorado and Wyoming are featured in this American Airlines deal, with departures available from dozens of U.S. cities.

Sample round-trip fares: Tulsa–Eagle/Vail $187; DC–Gunnison $197; Houston–Jackson $207; Boston–Hayden $257; San Antonio–Eagle/Vail $207; and more

The catch: The valid travel period is currently listed only through Feb. 11, although we anticipate it will be extended through March 31.

Travel by: Through Feb. 11

Book by: ASAP (no expiry date has been listed; a 14-day advance purchase is required)

Rock-bottom Europe fares from $347 (round trip)
The deal: With the US dollar finally gaining some traction against the Euro, and off-season airfares plummeting to rates that are as low as 60 percent off of their summer highs, now is the perfect time to lock in these low American Airlines’ fares to popular European locales.

Sample round-trip fares: Philadelphia–London $347; NYC–Barcelona $395; Boston–Dublin $427; Chicago–Zurich $487; LA–Paris $533; and more

The catch: It’s winter in Europe — in most cities, you’ll need to bundle up before setting out sightseeing.

Travel by: Through March 3

Book by: Jan. 21 (a 7-day advance purchase is required)

Jet to Australia with fares from $380 (one way)
The deal: Catch a little summer Down Under with these discounted Qantas flights, valid from major cities on both coasts; fares may be applied on travel to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne or Cairns. Plus, enjoy the flight in style onboard the airline's new fleet of A380s — the largest commercial passenger jet in the world!

Sample one-way fares: San Francisco–Sydney $380; LA–Melbourne $380; NYC–Brisbane $480; and more

The catch: Sale fares are limited — look to midweek flights for the best chance of scoring the promotional rates.

Travel by: Select periods through Sept. 21

Book by: Jan. 26

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