Airport: Travelers, Flight Screens (Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

Sometimes I wonder why I lug my bag through airports, following my own recommendation to pack light enough to carry on and avoid checking any bags on international flights. It can be a drag, dragging your bag through airports. But when scrambling with last-minute changes in flight plans, those without checked bags are far more nimble. Over the years I've learned some tricks to dealing with European airports. Here are a few of them. ...read more»

<strong>Hint</strong>: For more than 1,000 years, this place has relied heavily on the fishing industry.

If you guessed the Lofoten Islands in Norway, you're right!

With 24,000 people inhabiting seven main islands, the <a href="http://www.visitnorway.com/en/Stories/Norway/North/Lofoten/" target="_blank">Lofoten Islands</a> have remained fairly untouched by societal influences, and still maintain their fishing village heritage. The islands prospered from the local fisheries as early as 1103. Today, visitors are welcome to stay in the refurbished fisherman's cabins known as "rorbu." Book well in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during July and August.

The nearest major airport is in Oslo.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Milan Kuminowski)

Enter the Hurtigruten Norway Voyage sweepstakes by September 30, 2014, for a chance to win the grand prize: a seven-day cruise for two along the coast of Norway. Most meals are included, but airfare to and from the cruise port of embarkation is not included.

To participate, provide the requested contact information on the sweepstakes landing page and press "Submit." Time required to enter: under 30 seconds. ...read more»

Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

American Express Platinum Card Adds Two New Perks

Holders of the Platinum card will have two more ways to justify the $450 annual fee: Wi-Fi access through Boingo, and an $85 statement credit for a TSA PreCheck application fee. ...read more»

Credit card on keyboard (Photo: Index Open)

American Express has been a major player in the travel-rewards card space for decades, and its Platinum charge card deserves some of the credit.

Although it comes with a steep annual fee of $450, the potential value of the card's benefits more than offsets its cost.

The card lost some value recently, with the announcement that cardholders would no longer have access to the airport lounges of American and US Airways. In advance of the loss, American Express had preemptively expanded access to its Centurion lounges to Platinum cardholders. But there are only two Centurion lounges currently in operation, with two more set to open later in 2014....read more»

(Photo: flickr)

The short stroll from Key West's Duval Street to Nancy Forrester's house takes visitors away from the touristy main drag and into a much more residential part of town. Scenery changes from shop-window displays of neon muscle shirts to chickens strutting along the sidewalks in front of small, well-loved homes. In the backyard of one such residence is Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden.

Before she turned her current property into a sanctuary for big birds, Nancy Forrester and her parrots lived on the last undeveloped acre of land in Key West. For more than 40 years, she maintained the land and its meditative gardens, its paths that meandered among palm trees and orchids, and its artist's cottage and gallery. But in 2012, finances and property taxes forced Forrester to sell the land and move her operation into the home next door, which is where you can find her today....read more»

Woman: Anxious, Looking at Laptop (Photo: Shutterstock/O Driscoll Imaging)

About a year ago, Marriott added a new award tier, Category 9, and increased award prices at a whopping 36 percent of its hotels, while lowering award prices at a paltry 1 percent of properties.

This year's "changes to hotel categories," are somewhat less horrific, but they're another significant devaluation of Marriott Rewards program nonetheless....read more»

(Photo: TravelBox)

What Is it: Travelbox, a monthly subscription that delivers a box of curated travel products to your door.

Price and Where to Buy: $19.95 a month plus $6 shipping. Sign up on Travelbox's website....read more»

Question mark sign (Photo: Index Open)

Earlier this week, the Business Travel Coalition, an organization that purports to represent the interests of corporate travel managers, sent out an email query requesting input on the anticipated effects of the airline industry's move to revenue-based loyalty programs.

Of course, airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America have featured revenue-based programs for several years. They're nothing new. But Delta's recent announcement that SkyMiles would transition to a spend-based model in 2015 has crystallized the prospect that American and United will follow suit, shifting the model of all legacy carriers, which still carry the bulk of the country's business travelers....read more»

(Photo: Southwest)

Wanna Get Away reward flight bookings made on or after March 31, 2014 will require 70 points per dollar, an increase from the 60 points per dollar that is currently required.

That was Southwest's dispiriting message to Rapid Rewards members in September 2013. Now, almost seven months later, the deadline to book awards before the price increase takes effect is almost upon us.

The time to act and lock in awards at the current prices is now....read more»

Welcome to Upright Position, SmarterTravel's regular series in which Features Editor Caroline Costello discusses emotional and controversial travel topics. Got a question? Please send questions or comments about travel etiquette to editor@smartertravel.com.(Questions may be edited.)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has a message for women around the world: Come to Thailand, where we'll fix your old and homely face. You're welcome, ladies!

Thailand has launched an "Extreme Makeover" tourism campaign, the centerpiece of which is a contest that awards facial plastic surgery to the lucky winner. Women between the ages of 25 and 45 are called to submit photos of their faces and fill out an extensive medical questionnaire to enter to win a brand new look that will "change your life forever."...read more»

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