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'1,000 Places to See Before You Die' gets a makeover

Cameron Hewitt

The island of Hvar, Croatia offers a number of pebbly beaches and crystal-clear water for swimming. Croatia is included for the first time in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Do you dream of visiting the world’s greatest cities, seeing the world’s best attractions and spending a night or two in many of the world’s best hotels and inns? 

Then you probably have a well-worn copy of "1,000 Places To See Before You Die" on your nightstand. The New York Times bestseller by Patricia Schultz was first published in 2003 and is part guide book/part wish list and chock full of tantalizing tidbits about far-off places.

But both the world, and the way we get around it, has changed quite a bit since 2003. So for the new edition being released today, Schultz has updated and rewritten much of the book, adding 200 new entries, 28 additional countries and 600 color photographs. For those who don’t want to carry around a tome that weighs more than 2 pounds, there’s now an iPad app version of the book, with lots of extras.

As the new edition hits the stands, Overhead Bin caught up with Schultz to discuss how she chose new must-see destinations.

Q: How did you choose what you included in the book’s first edition?
A: Travel is a very personal thing so I rely on my own internal meter. I aimed to fill the book with things and places with a wow factor and a great sense of beauty, history, romance, integrity -- or just plain fun! There was no set formula or pattern regarding what got put into the mix; I just went with what I have seen in my lifetime that I wanted to share, from the grand to the quirky.

Q: What are the main differences between the first edition and this new edition?
A: At first glance, the most visible difference is the appearance of hundreds of beautiful color photographs (the original used smaller black and white photos). The tried-and-true layout of the original book was kept, with what I hope is an evocative description of each place that will get you off the couch, followed by the helpful info of telephone numbers, websites, prices and when-to-go information that includes best weather, but also annual festivals and events that can augment the experience.

Q: Twenty-eight new countries and 200 more pages, but still the title is “1000 Places ...” Are there really ‘just’ 1000 places?
A: Yes, it really is 1000 places -- with a few extras thrown in for good measure! The original 1,000 places got rethought, reorganized, rewritten (and of course updated and fact checked), often combining two and sometimes more places more into a single, newly expanded and embellished entry, thus allowing room for well over 200 new entries.

Q: The world has changed a lot in some places since 2003. What are some places that you decided to cut? Any you were particularly sad to see go?
A: The Three Gorges of China's Yangtze River have been partially submerged since its original description in the book and following the recent completion of the river's massive and much controversial dam. The gorges and valley scenery in general is less dramatic than when I first visited in the late 1990s. But it is still very much worth a visit, and with far more comfortable river cruise ships -- so I decided to keep it, with a new write-up that reflects the change.

Christmas in Bethlehem was once an easy trip from Jerusalem and a joyous occasion attended by celebrating visitors from around the world. It is still on my Life List, but the experience is more guarded, the situation more monitored, with far smaller crowds. It can still be a profound visit and the revision explains that. On the other hand, I have eliminated some but not all of the entries in Zimbabwe. It is a beautiful country in the midst of a protracted transition and not ready for tourism as it once knew it not long ago.

Q:  What are some of the reasons you've included some of the new countries and experiences? And what are a few you're especially pleased about?
A: I found the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to be an insightful experience, having experienced all three during one wonderful trip. Many of the countries of the former Soviet bloc had next to no tourism infrastructure when I was researching the original edition. That particular section of the book got an extreme makeover as things have changed hugely since the early '90s. I expanded the entries in Colombia, which has now greatly resolved its troubles and is seeing increased numbers of tourism, as has Nicaragua, hoping to absorb some of the vibrant tourism enjoyed by Costa Rica. The Balkan countries of the former war-divided Yugoslavia -- Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro -- are now one of the Mediterranean’s most special corners.

Q: How do you imagine people will use the book? At 2 pounds, 5 ounces, it’s too heavy to carry around and, with so many entries, too light on information to serve as the only tour book for any one location. What's the 'just right' use?
A: I hope that it will help expand the reader's horizons, to introduce places they never knew existed or knew little about. I hope it is a source of inspiration for those who travel often and are always interested in new discoveries, and for those who have traveled very little -- and everyone in between. And I hope that people don't take the meaning of the title too lightly: This is no dress rehearsal and the wonders of the world are countless.

Q: Is this book a reflection of your travels or perhaps the travel life you wish for? Were there local collaborators for many entries in the book?
A: Yes and yes! A number of these places make up my own yet-to-see Dream List -- I'd need to be 400 years old to say I have seen them all. For the revision I called upon a remarkable network of friends and colleagues with an enviable expertise about those areas I don't know well. After lots of brainstorming and discussing my tentative list, they helped me sort out the must-includes from the maybes.

Q: And what about that app?
A: It is being offered free with the purchase of the first printing of the book, and for sale after that. The entire content of the book is on the app (for iPads only at the moment), in addition to more than 1,000 color photographs, maps and a forum where you can post questions, recommendations and photos that you can share with your friends and fellow road warriors.

Q: For those of us ready to go someplace now, what are five new places from the book you'd encourage people to see not just before they die, but soon?
A: Lake Bled in Slovenia, the historic quarter of Lviv in Ukraine, the Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali, Wadi Rum in southern Jordan on the way to Aqaba, and old Quito in Ecuador. I can keep going ...

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Harriet Baskas is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com, authors the “Stuck at the Airport” blog and is a columnist for USATODAY.com. You can follow her on Twitter.