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Alternative Breaks

Alternative break volunteering with IVHQ

What are alternative breaks?

Alternative breaks provide students with the opportunity to give back to social causes and issues during the winter, spring and summer break periods through hands on service work. This is backed by a framework of theory, education and reflection in order to create meaningful change in students and communities.

Benefits of taking an alternative break

Taking part in service work is backed by a wide range of motivations that are unique to each individual. Whether you’ve always been an active citizen, invested in social issues or looking to meet new people and expand your skills, alternative breaks provide consistent benefits no matter your motivations.

IVHQ places over 10,000 alternative breakers each year with typical benefits including:

  • Enhanced global perspective
  • Satisfaction of giving back to others through long term community projects
  • Immersion in a new culture
  • Meeting new friends on IVHQ programs
  • Resume building - backed with hands on experience

The medical mission trip organized through IVHQ was absolutely amazing. Having the chance to go to India and provide healthcare to communities in need was an eye opening and fulfilling experience. We were able to provide blood glucose and blood pressure screenings and triage general ailments. We also were fortunate to be able to donate many supplies to hundreds of people during our time there. Learning about the culture and seeing the health disparities firsthand gives you a greater appreciation of just how valuable volunteering efforts across the world can be. After this trip, I definitely plan to stay engaged with future volunteering efforts abroad. Lalita Prasad-Reddy, Chicago State University Medical Campaign (India - December 2018)

IVHQ breaks

International Volunteer HQ offers meaningful and impactful alternative break volunteer programs for college students and university groups looking for a unique alternative spring break, summer break or winter break experience. Whether you want to create your own alternative break group, or join other like minded volunteers, we’re here to help you organize a meaningful experience abroad.

Apply for a solo alternative breakCustomize a group trip

Our affordable volunteer abroad programs offer students the opportunity to be immersed in a new culture, while gaining valuable life experience and making a positive contribution to a community. IVHQ has over 10 years of experience in supporting college students to engage in rewarding alternative break trips that are safe, affordable, and beneficial for both the student and the communities in which they volunteer.

Discover the best alternative break programs:

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Join IVHQ on an alternative winter break program for 1 or 2 weeks in over 50 destination options. Bring new meaning to the Christmas and New Year by giving back abroad.
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IVHQ offers alternative spring break programs for 1 week in over 20 destination options. We’ve been trusted with planning and delivering alternative break programs for over 10 years. Discover your next opportunity.
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Take a summer break you won’t forget with over 50 destination options available. Compliment study or explore a new field with our tailored summer volunteer programs.

You can volunteer abroad with IVHQ in over 50 destinations across Africa, Asia, Central America, South America and the Pacific. As an IVHQ volunteer, you have the opportunity to support a range of projects, including teaching, NGO support, community development, childcare, wildlife conservation, environmental conservation, construction and renovation, and sports development.

IVHQ has worked with the following universities to provide alternative breaks for individuals and groups:

What dates can I apply for?

IVHQ offers flexible trip bookings for all alternative breaks. Depending on the program you select, start dates are offered every Monday, the first and third Monday of each month or the second and fourth Monday. These programs run 12 months of the year, so they’re perfect for winter, spring and summer break. You then have the flexibility to select the duration you’d like to volunteer for, our programs start from one week so they’re perfect for breaks.

Does an alternative break with IVHQ give me course credit?

IVHQ programs don’t automatically offer students course credit. However, we do have the ability to facilitate course credit in collaboration with your university. If you’d like your volunteer program to support your university requirements, speak with our Campus Relations Manager.

Can I volunteer with my friends?

You sure can! IVHQ offers a number of options for breakers that wish to travel in small or large groups. If you have 7 or less friends that you’re taking an alternative break with, all you need to do is apply for the program of your choosing and invite your peers at the time of your application. Your friends will then be able to join your group and you can make shared arrangements with your IVHQ program manager.

If you’re volunteering with 8 or more alternative breakers, you have the ability to create a customized groups itinerary with our expert groups team. We’ve facilitated customized groups across winter, spring and summer break, so we have unmatched experience in getting the most out of your time abroad and ensuring you have a complete package of volunteering and cultural experience.

How much do alternative breaks cost?

There a number of factors that go into the total cost of your alternative break, some of these costs are paid to IVHQ and cover the essential components of your trip and there are others that we can provide you options for or point you in the right direction. So let’s break down the key components of your alternative break:

Registration Fee US$299
What it covers

  • Most affordable program fees
  • Dedicated support from a volunteer expert
  • Complete MyIVHQ account access
  • Online volunteer training
  • Comprehensive program guide
  • Deals on flights and travel insurance
  • IVHQ alumni membership

Program Fee starting from US$180
What it covers

  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Volunteer placement
  • Accommodation
  • Meals

Additional costs

  • Visa (depending on the destination you’re volunteering in, there may be a visa fee to pay before arrival)
  • Flights (once registered for a program you can work with our exclusive flights team on pricing and itineraries)
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations (dependant on the program you select)
  • Criminal background check (complosory on all programs)
  • In-country trips or tours
  • Transport to and from your placement
  • Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program
  • Meals (dependant on program selection)
  • Misc (expenses in-country vary between volunteers and destination. Typically we recommend US$50 - US$200 spending money)

If you’re looking to stick to a budget, one consideration that we always communicate early on to volunteers is the cost of flights. In a nut shell, the longer the flight, the more expensive it will be. So we always recommend taking breaks in destinations within close proximity to keep flight costs down.

Talk with an IVHQ expert if you have any further questions on costs.

When should I book my program?

When it comes to booking your alternative break we always recommend doing this at least 2 months in advance of your desired start date. Depending on the program you want to volunteer in, start dates can fill up quickly.

Booking with IVHQ requires you to register for the program at cost of US$299. This secures your spot on the program and enables you to work with your IVHQ program manager on your specific in-country plans.

If you can’t book 2 months in advance, our expert team and local team relationships enable us to take last minute bookings and we can work with you on your plans at the point of application.

What duration can I volunteer for?

IVHQ volunteer programs offer flexible durations to suit any alternative break schedule. Programs start from 1 to 24 weeks. We can even organize customized days for alt break groups of 8 more individuals.

Will I be able to take part in cultural activities?

Depending on your schedule, we can facilitate cultural activities during the days you volunteer, as some provide spare time in the mornings or afternoons, where it is appropriate for things like city tours and activities nearby. In the weekends you have the opportunity to explore cultural activities through IVHQ or volunteers often make plans together and create their own experiences.

The IVHQ groups team can create custom itineraries, that include a week long of volunteering and activities of your choosing based on the destination that you select.

Does IVHQ offer internship options?

We offer internships through our sister company, Intern Abroad HQ. Alternative break internship options can be taken from 2 weeks and are backed by a reflection framework, which is perfect for students looking to secure a more immersive experience in their field of study.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the registration fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!