Deciding to take an alternative spring break trip and volunteer abroad is a no-brainer! Alternative spring breaks abroad are an affordable opportunity for college students to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world in a meaningful way. Spring break trips are equal parts worthwhile volunteer work, adventure, and education. All adding up to a life changing experience!
You can make the most of your 2021 spring break by contributing to impactful 1-2 week volunteer projects in nearby countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, or Ecuador. Otherwise, head further afield and uncover the Philippines, Romania, Portugal, or South Africa. IVHQ has affordable volunteer programs in 50+ destinations around the world and 300+ projects, perfect for alternative spring break trips for college students.
If you’re worried about the set dates you have off from school, worry no more! IVHQ has 10 years experience providing college break trips with flexible programs scheduled to coincide with major college spring breaks, starting from March through to the end of April.
You’ll probably be discussing with your friends about college break trips and what you want to get out of the experience. So whether you are arriving alone, or bringing your squad, you’ll be able to share the experience with some incredible and like-minded people from a variety of backgrounds. If you are looking for spring break alternatives that are meaningful, fun, and can be included in your resume - all without having to spend a fortune, then spring break volunteer opportunities with IVHQ tick all the boxes.
If you’re looking to travel with a group of eight or more friends, you can start your program on any Monday of the month - perfect, right?! And IVHQ has a team dedicated to supporting groups of volunteers traveling together! They will be able to work with you to make sure your group gets everything you want from your alternate spring break. If you’re traveling solo, you can join a short-term 1 week volunteer program that starts every Monday, explore recommended programs such as Guatemala or Costa Rica. Solo travel with IVHQ is an ideal way to grow as a person while being fully supported with organized accommodation, meals, expert pre-departure support and on-the-ground support during your time abroad.
Here are eight examples of volunteer experiences you can take part in on your 2021 spring break trip:
- Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica
- Medical mission trips in Guatemala
- Construction and Renovation volunteering in Peru
- Youth development in Ecuador
- Teach English in the Philippines
- Focus on Youth Support in Portugal
- Neighborhood Revitalization in USA - New Orleans
- Animal Care in Romania
- Childcare or Sport Development in South Africa
- Sustainable Agriculture in Mexico
Alternative Spring Break Trips in Costa Rica
IVHQ’s volunteer program in Costa Rica is perfect for alternative spring breaks! San Jose is a short flight from the States and with IVHQ’s program fees starting from as low as US$365 for 1 week, this definitely makes Costa Rica an affordable option. With a wide range of volunteer project choices - from Childcare and Teaching English to Eco-Agriculture Conservation - there is a project option for everyone! The Turtle Conservation project is an awesome opportunity to work with animals and help protect sea turtles, please note the Turtle Conservation project does have a minimum duration of 2 weeks. For the nature lovers, Costa Rica is the most biodiverse country in the world and you are sure to see wildlife you have never encountered before. Costa Rica is a vibrant country with plenty of travel and tourism opportunities for adventure seekers too! Not surprisingly, our Costa Rica program is one of our most popular volunteer programs, so you can expect to be volunteering and socializing with between 40 and 80 other young volunteers at any one time!
The IVHQ Costa Rica program starts every Monday year-round, including during February, March, and April.
Very impressed by the staff, facilities, and overall atmosphere in-country. Everyone was very welcoming right from the start, and really contributed to the amazing time I had here even though it was so short. I will definitely be looking into doing this again in the future, and I will be telling everyone back home. Thank you for making this experience very enjoyable.” Melanie Guzman (IVHQ Costa Rica Volunteer)
Alternative Breaks in Guatemala
Guatemala is often a location that is overlooked by tourists, but talk to anyone that’s been there and it’ll be one of their favorite countries! The IVHQ Guatemala program is based in Antigua, a beautiful city lined with cobblestone streets and some of the best Pico de Gallo you’ll ever tasted! Volunteers can expect an authentic cultural experience while making a real impact within the local community you’re working within. In addition to Teaching and Childcare projects, for the animal lovers, there is an Animal Care project where you can work with abandoned dogs and cats. For pre-medical students, there is a Medical Placement available where you are able to gain a first-hand insight into the operations of a foreign medical system, while shadowing fully-qualified local physicians.
What I liked about this experience was that there were so many different aspects to it. I really liked my placement, the bond we had as a group was great. We had some hard days, where the work was physically really challenging, those were some of the best days, because it forced the group to really come together. Being in the house and practicing my Spanish with the family was a really exciting and inspiring experience for me. I had a really positive experience, for me being the first time traveling outside of the country, the fact that everything was really organized helped me out a lot. Anne Cassani (IVHQ Volunteer in Guatemala)
Alternative Spring Break Trips in Peru - Lima
IVHQ’s Peru - Lima volunteer program is certainly one that won’t break the bank, with fees starting at US$180 for 1 week. The city of Lima is one of South America’s largest, with vibrant sights and sounds to greet you on every corner. From the breathtaking Pacific coastline to the ancient civilizations, you certainly won’t be short of sightseeing options. IVHQ offers four projects in Lima; Teaching English, Medical, Special Needs and Construction and Renovation. Each project gives you a unique insight into the Peruvian culture and you will certainly gain a wealth of life of experience on the program. Groups traveling to Lima always enjoy the Construction and Renovation Project, which is focused in the Pachacutec area and volunteers can really get stuck in with the local community. When you’re not volunteering, Lima offers some of the most unique tour options available, that will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time on your alternate spring break.
I can’t express how much this experience has impacted me. Peru soon became my home away from home thanks to the other volunteers and the staff. The other volunteers were like my family, and I take comfort in knowing that I have made friends from all corners of the Earth. My time in Peru helped me learn how to step out of my comfort zone, meet new people and help make a difference. Emma Holt (IVHQ Volunteer in Peru - Lima)
Spring Break Programs in Ecuador
IVHQ’s Ecuador program is located in the capital, Quito. It sits high in the Andean foothills and is constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city. If you’re into your ancient cities, and even if you’re not, you will be blown away by the history of Quito. With program fees starting at US$290 for 1 week and only a short flight from main centers in the States, it’s the perfect getaway for any group or individual traveler. With a big focus on education, we offer eight meaningful projects in Ecuador, including: Kindergarten, School Support, NGO Support, Street Children Work, Schools Breaks, Kindergarten, Teaching English and the Shelter Support project. Volunteers on the Ecuador program are always taken back by how much their time impacts the community and there is never a shortage of work available in the area. If your group is looking for a program to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, then local in Ecuador for your alternative spring break!
I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it was the most fulfilling, enriching experience I have ever had and I am so glad that I did this. The volunteer staff and other volunteers were great to work with and the relationships built are so genuine, you’re like one big family. I would definitely recommend volunteering. Latanya Clarke (IVHQ Volunteer in Ecuador)
Spring Break Service Trips in Portugal
If you’re wanting to soak up some sun and travel a little further afield, IVHQ’s volunteer program in Portugal should be an option for your alternative spring break! Being able to dive right into either the Construction and Renovation, Food Rescue or Youth Support projects means that you will be able to maximize your time abroad, and with the projects based in Lisbon, there are no niggly domestic flights once you’ve touched down on Portuguese soil! The program offers the perfect mix of culture, cuisine and meaningful volunteer work, so you can return home feeling like you helped make a difference. This program places a great emphasis on taking part in everything Lisbon has to offer and volunteers have plenty of opportunities during their free time to explore the city together! With program fees starting from US$375 for one week, this is an affordable way to explore Europe and make the most of an alternative spring break trip!
Volunteering in Portugal was nothing less than amazing. From the moment I landed in Portugal and began my project, I was welcomed with absolute warmth and ease! Lisbon is a very colorful city from the buildings, food, the history, the laid back culture, the people, the many winding narrow streets are all so charming! It is so easy to get used to. Nicole Mendes (IVHQ Volunteer in Portugal)
Spring Break Volunteering in USA - New Orleans
If you’re based in the Unites States and looking for an affordable alternative Spring Break opportunity near you then the IVHQ USA - New Orleans program is the perfect option! The program has four meaningful projects: Environmental Sustainability, Homeless Support, Arts and Culture Preservation, and Neighborhood Revitalization. As an alternative Spring Break volunteer you’ll be based in New Orleans, a city known for its mouthwatering food, soulful music and fun loving, welcoming people. The fusion of Cajun, Creole, French, and African roots have made this resilient American city a unique place to visit.
This was the best trip ever! I made so many new connections and friendships with people from all over the world and I am super grateful. I feel rewarded in so many ways. Marieliz Feliz (IVHQ Volunteer in USA - New Orleans)
Spring Break Volunteering in Romania
If Europe is calling but you want to go somewhere a little off the beaten track for spring break (but not so far that you still have regular access to the internet and your mum isn’t too worried about where you are going), look no further than Romania! The Romania volunteer program is located in Miercurea Ciuc, Harghita, an ethno-cultural region in eastern Transylvania. With apartment style living, you’re able to have a taste of the local culture, but also some home comforts. When volunteering with IVHQ in Romania, you can choose from a range of projects, including, Teaching, After School Support, Agriculture, Animal Care, Agriculture and NGO Support.
It’s hard to put my experience into words, but to start it was incredible, enlightening, and life changing. The people I met, the staff and children I worked with - I’ll truly never forget them. Romania is a beautiful country and fairly undiscovered by hoards of tourists so it’s a lot of fun to travel around. Olivia Martin-Spisak (IVHQ Volunteer in Romania)
Spring Break Volunteering in the Philippines
Home to incredible scenery and incredibly friendly locals, spring breaks in the Philippines are always a good idea! The Philippines has white sand beaches only meters from your accommodation, crystal clear waters and a diverse range of marine life, flora and fauna (which sounds far more appealing than that English Literature paper you almost stayed home to finish). On the Philippines volunteer program, you can choose from a range of projects, including Teaching, Kindergarten, Construction and Renovation and Environmental. You will find your time in the Philippines to be a highly affordable destination too and you can expect to pay as little as US$1 - US$5 for a meal!
Prepare to be amazed not only with the great scenery and environment but with the hospitality and friendliness of the people. It is a place where you will feel very welcomed and won’t be made to feel like a complete stranger. This volunteer experience has been a life changer for me and I can’t express how glad that IVHQ was there to make it happen! Francis Carlo Hofilena (IVHQ Volunteer in the Philippines)
Spring Break Volunteer in South Africa
One of the benefits of participating on the IVHQ South Africa program is that you get to experience city life, while also being able to easily access all of the cultural and tourist activities that are on offer! Cape Town is a much-loved tourist hub and within a few hours of the city, you are able to experience an African safari! The South Africa volunteer program offers unique project options, such as Surf Outreach, Sports Development, Computer Training and also Teaching and Childcare. The diverse range of projects is a major draw card for friends traveling as a group on their alternative spring break!
The accommodation was just like living in a hostel. Everyone was amazing. I’ve made friends for life. The best part of my volunteering experience in South Africa was taking the kids to hike a mountain and having them beat us to the top. Volunteering through IVHQ has absolutely changed my life! Caitlin Donnolley (IVHQ South Africa Volunteer)
Spring Break Volunteer in Mexico - Merida
Merida is the largest city in the popular tourist state of Yucatán. Rich in tradition and history, it boasts plenty of cultural attractions and is within a short drive of many crisp Caribbean beaches. Projects are full of variety with Teaching, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Animal Care and a unique Sustainable Agriculture project all available.
I’m so happy I had the opportunity to volunteer in Mexico these past few weeks. It was quite an adventure. I had the great opportunity to make new friends from all over the world. My fellow volunteers have inspired me so much; they are all so ambitious, caring and hard working. Lauren Stovall (IVHQ Volunteer in Mexico)
Still not convinced that volunteering abroad with IVHQ is the best option for your spring break?
What helps clinch any decision for me is admittedly often the cost. IVHQ has a reputation as the world leader in affordable international volunteer programs and this affordability has enabled more than 113,000 people to have meaningful travel experiences since 2007. Responsible travel is important to IVHQ and our volunteers. By working with local teams in each program location, IVHQ ensures volunteers are placed where they are most needed and we are dedicated to ensuring all programs are safe and are providing responsible volunteering opportunities for our volunteers.
Need to convince the parents first?
For most parents, ensuring that you are going to be safe while abroad is paramount. IVHQ shares the same focus, with the safety of our volunteers being a top priority at IVHQ. All volunteers are placed in pre-approved accommodations with other IVHQ volunteers and our in-country teams are available 24/7 to answer questions and provide support whenever and wherever required. For parents, it can also be reassuring to know that all IVHQ volunteers are connected with a dedicated IVHQ Program Manager to support you every step of the journey, and is available to answer any questions via phone or email from volunteers or parents. You can also direct your parents to these reviews from parents of previous IVHQ volunteers.
To weigh up your options for your alternative spring break, see IVHQ’s full range of volunteer programs here. Having placed more than 113,000 volunteers abroad, we’re always happy to speak with you, or your parents to ensure that all of your questions are answered and that you feel comfortable with your spring break volunteer trip plans!