<a href="http://www.smartertravel.com/community/?user_id=19703be16e533025b7dbb3a3449750f0-sldcc3036f" target="_blank">Ed Passarella</a> is our Editor-in-Chief and has been with SmarterTravel since August of 2001. Ed and his wife, Andrea, travel as a team, so this bucket list is a joint effort. They like to mix up their travel. Well-planned explorations of exciting cities alternate with peaceful, unstructured respites involving an island, a lake, or a mountain.

<ol><li>Hearing some jazz at a club in Montmartre. Not just for the music, but because it'd mean we were back in Paris. While we've done pretty well checking out the Left Bank and the museums, we've never had the pleasure of hearing live music, Parisian style.</li>

<li>Take a water taxi ride the full length of the Grand Canal. Forget the gondolas. Too slow. Too quaint. We had a taste of the old-fashioned, wooden power boats once in getting from the Venice train station to our hotel, but we want to get back for a leisurely tour.</li>

<li>Race down the East Coast and catch the sunrise from vantage points stretching from the Chesapeake to the Barrier Islands of Georgia.</li>

<li>Watch the sunset from the hills above Bodega Bay. Yeah, it'd be fun to check out the locations where Alfred Hitchcock filmed <em>The Birds</em>, but the real attraction is the stillness at dusk&mdash;followed by the upward view of an impossibly starry sky, far from the light pollution of a big city.</li>

<li>Slurp some Vivoli cioccolato and limone while strolling the back streets of Florence. Vivoli's famous gelato emporium was closed the day we were in the neighborhood, so we missed our chance back then. We want a do-over.</li></ol>

Is Paris on your bucket list? What spots in Paris are must-sees for you?

(Photo: iStockphoto/Erick Nguyen)

Welcome to the third installment in our series highlighting useful destination-specific apps for travelers, apps that will help you get around, find things to do, and maybe save a few bucks. This time, I'm covering Paris.

As I mentioned in my London apps post, there is the issue of roaming charges when using the data link on your smartphone. If you plan on bringing your phone abroad, you'll want to pre-purchase an international data package rather than pay your provider's outrageous roaming fees. Also keep an eye out for free Wi-Fi. A city like Paris is bound to have numerous free Wi-Fi hotspots at cafes, hotels, and public spaces.

Metro Paris Subway: Mass transit apps are a must-have in any big, unfamiliar city, and this one comes packed with all you need. The app shows you nearby stations, plots routes from one place to another, and pushes updates about service disruptions to your phone. $0.99.

Rick Steves' Europe: Rick Steves has four guided tour apps for Paris: Historic Paris Walk & Tour, Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, and Versailles. Each app is really well done, with artful illustrations along with text, photos, and videos. Best of all, the apps run offline, so you don't need to connect to Wi-Fi or a data network to use them. At press time, the apps were all on sale for $1.99....read more»

Money: Fingers with dollar caught in Mousetrap (Photo: iStockphoto/SpotX)

Airlines have added surcharges of $10 to $30 on popular travel dates throughout the summer, much like they did this past holiday season. Charging more for popular travel dates is hardly a new idea, of course, and these surcharges allow airlines to target specific peak dates.

According to USA Today, the "five big airlines—American, Delta, Continental, United and US Airways— have surcharges on most flights on 73 of 74 days June 10 through Aug. 22." Southwest and JetBlue do not have surcharges, and it's not clear if other low-cost carriers are in on the surcharge game.

The cheapest surcharges, $10, are mostly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and the most expensive ones, $30, tend to be on Sundays. The rest of the days are usually $20. July 4 is the only day without a surcharge....read more»

British Airways aircraft front view (Photo: Airbus S.A.S. )

British Airways' cabin crew union, Unite, has commenced the first of three five-day strikes. This first five-day strike will last through Friday, with another beginning Sunday May 30, and then Saturday June 5.

British Airways says it expects to accommodate roughly 70 percent of all passengers during the strike periods. That said, the airline's operations at Heathrow will be the most severely affected. The New York Times reports that "as of early Monday, about 40 percent of the airline’s scheduled departures and 30 percent of its arrivals at London Heathrow ... had been canceled." Flights from London Gatwick and City will not be affected.

Travelers ticketed on British Airways can see the airline's revised schedules for all three strike periods here....read more»

Woman taking photos outdoors (Photo: Index Open)

Time for a 30-second daydream: It's a warm summer day, you're outdoors, maybe at a national park, seashore, historic site, or refuge. In this daydream, what are you doing? Hiking? Biking? Bird watching? Enjoying a view?

For me, it's walking the steep but beautiful McClures Beach trail at Point Reyes National Seashore and then picnicking in view of the crashing waves.

When I asked SmarterTravel editors to describe a favorite national park activity, here's what they said:...read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

This Sunday, we'll be releasing the results of our first annual Editors' Choice Awards, in which we'll honor the airlines and providers that give customers the biggest bang for their buck. In the days leading up to the big reveal, we want to get your thoughts on some of the categories.

"Value" means something different to everyone, and when determining the Best-Value Airline in our Editors' Choice Awards, we spent a lot of time thinking about exactly that. For some, "value" simply means getting something cheap. To others, it means paying more but getting a superior product. There's no right or wrong definition, of course, just different tastes.

But when it comes to airlines, there are several things we can probably all agree on—and let's face it, airlines have done so much to reduce customers' expectations that there isn't a whole lot left to disagree about. Most people at least want low prices, reasonable fees, and good service, which can be anything from upscale in-flight amenities to simply friendly staff....read more»

Southwest 737 jet approaching runway (Photo: iStockPhoto/Lowell Sannes)

Southwest airlines CEO Gary Kelly told reporters this week that Southwest had made an estimated $1 billion in revenue by not charging bag fees. Kelly claims his airline's policy has stolen market share from competitors, all of whom charge fees for checked bags (though JetBlue offers one free bag). With that in mind, Kelly says Southwest plans to ratchet up its "Bags Fly Free" message by placing decals that read "Free Bags Fly Here" on some 50 planes, as well as similar banners on tarmac luggage carts.

At the same time, Kelly warned of high fuel prices this summer—which, you may recall, were the impetus for the industrywide rash of bag fees in the first place. Fuel isn't terribly expensive right now, and has actually come down a bit over the past month, but the overall trend over the last year or so has been upward. With so many airlines seemingly hanging on by a thread, a sudden spike or even a continued upward trend could mean big problems....read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

The past few days have seen quite a few announcements for new routes. Here's a breakdown of who has 'em, where they're going, and when:

AirTran: Milwaukee to:

  • Boston, three round-trips daily, beginning July 7
  • Washington (Reagan), four round-trips daily, beginning October 7
  • New Orleans, one round-trip daily, beginning October 7
  • Ft. Lauderdale, one round-trip daily, beginning November 4
  • Sarasota, one round-trip daily, beginning November 18
  • Phoenix, one round-trip daily, beginning November 18

Allegiant: Long Beach, California, to Bellingham, Washington; three round-trips weekly, beginning July 1. This is Allegiant's first route into Long Beach.

Frontier: Milwaukee-Cancun, up to three round-trips weekly, beginning December 18...read more»

British Airways aircrafts at the gate  (Photo: British Airways)

Monday's court ruling that invalidated the strike by British Airways' cabin crew, Unite, has been overturned, opening the door for strikes, perhaps as soon as next week. In this latest ruling, a U.K. court of appeals determined that British Airways' claim of errors in Unite's strike ballot results reporting was not sufficient to invalidate the strike itself.

Now the question becomes whether or not the two sides can reach a last-ditch agreement before Monday, which is the earliest Unite says it would begin any labor actions....read more»

Bus at Oxford Circus, London (Photo: BritainOnView.com)

Welcome to the second installment in our series highlighting useful destination-specific apps for travelers. I'll list apps that will help you get around, find things to do, and maybe save a few bucks. This time, I'll be covering London.

Now, since we're in London, there is the issue of roaming charges when using the data link on your smartphone. If plan on bringing your phone abroad, you'll want to pre-purchase an international data package rather than pay your provider's outrageous roaming fees. Also keep an eye out for free Wi-Fi. A city like London is bound to have numerous free Wi-Fi hotspots at cafes, hotels, and public spaces....read more»

Planes taking off behind pink sky (Photo: Index Open)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Randy Babbitt said yesterday that implementation of NextGen, a satellite-based technology that will replace our current air traffic control system, will be mostly implemented by 2016, two years ahead of schedule.

NextGen is expected to make flying safer by giving air traffic control a better view of planes in the sky. It should also save money and fuel. The Dallas Morning News reports that Babbitt told the American Association of Airport Executives, "Our aircraft use 19 billion pounds of kerosene annually. NextGen can save 5 percent—that's a billion gallons of fuel, and at $2 per gallon, it's $2 billion worth of savings a year."

One of the main steps to be taken is getting the technology onboard the planes themselves. Some airlines, including American and Southwest, have been proactive and already prepared their aircraft for NextGen, while others have yet to do anything. Only 30 percent or so of planes are NextGen ready. Babbitt said the FAA is considering loans and other incentives to bring more airlines up to speed....read more»

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