I love Paris in winter. Fares are low, especially from the East Coast. Theater, opera, and ballet tickets are easy to obtain, museums and gardens are uncrowded, and the sales are on. I stay at the $60-a-night Hôtel Sévigné [2 Rue Malher; 33-1/42-72-76-17]. There's nothing like dinner at an Île St.-Louis brasserie on a cold evening.
For an inexpensive tropical vacation, go to Mombasa, Kenya. There are many hotels on the Indian Ocean. We found a lovely place for $19 per person, breakfast and dinner included.
Plato W. Jones
Oaxaca, Mexico: you can get a shoeshine, buy a newspaper, drink a Corona, and crunch on roasted grasshoppers -- all for less than $5.
It's tough to beat the seaside lodges on the Islas de la Bahía, off Honduras. You can explore or just veg out. The gin-clear waters are great for diving, snorkeling, and fishing. A week, including airfare, was less than $1,000.
Budapest offers a wonderful combination of old-world charm and (former) Eastern bloc affordability in a safe, clean environment. It's only a three-hour, $84 round-trip train ride from Vienna. I spent last New Year's there at a very reasonable bed-and-breakfast, the Kati Guest House [36-1/272-3282] -- you'll pay $20 a night.
Oklahoma City, OK
Dollar for dollar, it's Vegas: cheap rooms, food, shows. Go for an airline package.
Virginia Beach, VA