Voluntourism: Helpful or Hurtful?

By: Hipmunk Staff

Jet to an exotic country. Get immersed in local customs. Help build a house or dig a well. Make buddies with fascinating people you’d never meet otherwise. A “voluntourism” trip seems like a great way to give back or improve the world in a small way. It can be, but you should ask a lot of questions before signing up and plunking down cash.

Over the last several years, this well-meaning market has grown quickly, with studies estimating 1.6 million volunteer tourists per year and growing. About 33 percent of volunteer travelers are between the ages of 20 and 40. Another 34 percent are slightly older, between 41 and 60. Overall, the travelers are more likely to be female. However, the impact of these trips is hard to quantify...

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See 1K Years of Irish History in a 5-Day Road Trip (Legendary Pubs Included)

By: Hipmunk Staff

There are as many reasons to see Ireland as there are people who travel to the Emerald Isle. History, geology, pub culture, folklore, and breathtaking views are all par for the course for travelers to the island.

If you have a few days to spare, you can soak up nearly all that Ireland has to offer while rolling through the southwestern half of the country. Here’s a road trip itinerary guaranteed to make you “ooh,” “ahh,” and promise to come back.

Day 1: Dublin to Kilkenny

After flying into Dublin and spending the night in Ireland’s capital city, prepare for a cross-country adventure full of historical sites and breathtaking views. Rent a car and set off on a short drive (approximately two hours) to the artsy town of Kilkenny.

Check in at the quaint Kilke...

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The Hipmunk Guide to Free Hotel Wi-Fi

By: Hipmunk Staff

Wi-Fi has become an amenity that guests expect from the hotels where they choose to stay. We asked our Twitter fans what they think of free Wi-Fi and they spoke loud and clear. Perhaps Susan Breslow ‏(@susanbreslow) said it best: ‘Hotel wi-fi is essential. Free wins loyalty and cred.’ But according to a review of Hipmunk’s hotel database, only 70 percent of U.S. hotels offer free Wi-Fi. Another 27 percent don’t offer Wi-Fi at all (what?!?!). And the last 3 percent offer Wi-Fi for a fee.

So how do you ensure you always have Wi-Fi free of charge? Easy. Read the Hipmunk guide to free Wi-Fi below.

Know Where to Go
We tapped our hotels database to identify the U.S. cities with the highest percentage of free Wi-Fi.

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Avoid Luxury Hotels
Believe it or not, you reall...

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Home for Holidays, But Which One?

By: Hipmunk Staff

Want to go home for the holidays but can’t decide whether to go for Thanksgiving or Christmas? If you’re like most travelers, price likely has a big impact on when you travel home for the holidays. So we compared historic airfare prices to the top 50 U.S. hometowns to see whether your best holiday budget bet is a flight home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Take a look at the map below to see which holiday airfare is cheaper to your hometown. Want specific numbers? Scroll past the map for a complete list of 2014 holiday hometown airfare prices and a feast for your data-loving eyes. 

Top 50 U.S. Cities and Thanksgiving vs. Christmas Savings

Holiday Destination City Avg 2014 Thanksgiving Airfare Avg 2014 Christmas Airfare Savings by Traveling for Cheaper H...
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Best countries to visit for art lovers

photo by CC user Guache on Flickr

If one of the things that you look forward to the most when traveling is seeing how different cultures express their innermost thoughts on canvas, then you will enjoy today’s post.

Below, we will reveal the best countries to visit for art lovers. From the grittiness of Colombia, to the Old World classics of Italy, there is much to love about the countries on this list…

1) Italy

A serious discussion on the best art destinations in the world simply can not be had without mentioning Italy first.

Home to some of the most creative minds in history, cities like Florence stand out, as being home to Michelangelo’s David (Galleria dell’ Accademia) and some of the finest pieces from Raphael and Rembrandt (Galleria degli Uffizi) has put it firmly on the global art map.

The Eternal City is a must ...

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5 French wine regions that will blow your foodie socks off!

photo by CC user Michal Osmenda on Flickr

Love wine? There is no better place in the world to tour if this is the case than France. Its fertile countryside is covered with vineyards that are focused on producing vintages that will top those of yesteryear, which is something that you will better appreciate when you tour the following French wine regions…

1) Alsace

Sprawling over 15,000 hectares in the Haut-Rhin in the French interior, the Alsace vineyards produce a variety of quality wines that will make your journey out here well worth the trouble. The warm and dry characteristics of this region’s micro climate allow these fields to grow seven different types of grape – including those that produce Riesling and Pinot Noir.

When you are done sampling the bounties of these fertile fields, spend some time in the Alsace Vineyards a...

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Tasty Mexican dishes, and where to try them: a primer

photo by CC user 7678722@N07 on Flickr

Awaiting the consumption of tasty Mexican dishes on your upcoming trio to Mexico? They are even better when you know where to try them, as they are at their best when locals prepare them in the way they were meant to be had. Don’t miss the meals and spots listed below…!

1) Tacos al pastor: Mexico City

Shortly after touching down in the capital of Mexico, take to the streets of the Centro Historico in search of your first gastronomic trophy. While tacos of all sorts are served on the sidewalks of the District Federal, the king of them all in our humble opinion is tacos al pastor.

It consists of lovely roasted pork loin basted in barbeque sauce, onions, and best of all, some sweet chunks of pineapple to top it all off...

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Eating your way through the best Mexican restaurants in San Antonio

photo by CC user mccun934 on Flickr

As you tour your way through Texas, you really begin to encounter its Hispanic influences in San Antonio. With a number of historic Spanish missions, those of Mexican descent have a long history in these parts.

This also makes this city a great place to sample their cuisine, as there are many authentic spots scattered all across town. In our opinion, the following joints on this list represent the very best Mexican restaurants in San Antonio…

1) Mama Margie’s (7335 S Zarzamora St)

The unpretentious nature of this 24 hour fast food style restaurant hides the brilliance that Mama Margie’s delivers to the hungry denizens of San Antonio. This is due to their practice of preparing food from fresh everyday, unlike thawing out frozen ingredients in lesser establishments. As a result, its drool-i...

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Beaches in Costa Rica: which one is right for you?

photo by CC user Eric T Gunther on wikimedia

Costa Rica is one of Central America’s most popular tourist destinations, as its biodiversity, quality of its beaches, and safety relative to the rest of the region have been led to a rapidly growing industry.

Being a tropical nation, you will likely take to the coast at some point in your stay, so we have summarized the best beaches in Costa Rica by what various groups of travelers are seeking to get out of their time on the Tican coast. Let’s start with…

Party animal paradise: Jaco Beach

Want to live life like a rockstar during your beach holiday in Costa Rica? If this tops your list of priorities, then taking the short drive from San Jose to Jaco Beach will provide with the holiday of your dreams.

From nightclubs to casinos, Jaco offers you a variety of ways to paint the town red after...

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Sights to see in Jaisalmer

photo by CC user Honzasoukup on wikimedia

There are many places to go in India, from the heights of the Himalayas to the sultry tropical beaches of Goa. One corner of India that should not be neglected though is the state of Rajasthan, as its desert culture is often missed by many that tour India faster than they ought to.

Its most significant city is its capital, the majestic city of Jaisalmer. Sticking out like an island of civilization in the midst of sterile sand seas, this historically significant centre has endured assaults of nature and man over the ages, standing up as a proud survivor in the early years of the 21st century.

What are the major sight to see in Jaisalmer? These points of interest should not be missed by anyone that makes the trip to this special corner of the Subcontinent.

1) The Golden Fort of Rajasthan

Da...

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