Alternative Winter Break Trips
Are you considering an alternative winter break and want to learn how you can get involved in winter break volunteer abroad programs? With winter on the horizon, now is a perfect time to start researching winter break trips with International Volunteer HQ!
Volunteering abroad during your winter break is the ideal way to ditch the cold, make a meaningful contribution to a community abroad, while adding volunteer work to your resume, developing your skills set and improving your future job prospects!
International Volunteer HQ makes it easy and affordable to organize an alternative winter break with program with fees starting as low as $180 for one week. As an IVHQ volunteer, you can feel confident that you’ll be in the company of like-minded volunteer travelers and you’ll be well supported by our local team on any of IVHQ’s winter break volunteer abroad programs. Before departing, you’ll be connected with a dedicated IVHQ Program Manager who will ensure you have all the support you need to prepare for your winter break volunteer trip. So where are the best places to volunteer abroad and make the most of an alternative winter break? We’ve listed some of our most popular (and warm!) winter volunteer abroad programs below, which are guaranteed to provide the perfect escape for an alternative winter break…
Volunteer in Costa Rica
Average temperature 84°
Boasting stunning beaches, adventure-packed activities, quaint towns and welcoming locals, it’s understandable why Costa Rica is a popular destination for winter breaks. Located in the vibrant city of San Jose, volunteers on IVHQ’s program in Costa Rica can lend a hand to Construction and Renovation, Teaching English, Childcare, Special Needs and Healthcare projects. If you’re looking to add volunteer experience to your resume while gaining university credit, join IVHQ’s Spanish Learning Course in Costa Rica for your alternative winter break! If you’re wanting to chase the sun, you can also join Turtle Conservation efforts based on the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, or volunteer alongside local families on organic coffee farms in Monteverde. As a volunteer in Costa Rica, your weekdays will be spent applying your efforts to support the local communities, while your weekends can revolve around relaxing on the beach of Manuel Antonio, zip-lining through Monteverde, or exploring Arenal Volcano.
My time in Costa Rica was some of the best times of my life! I met so many amazing people and did so many amazing things. I loved watching the progress we made as we renovated a kindergarten classroom and English school. My host family was fantastic and I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience, besides staying longer next time! Joshua Bennignton
Volunteer in Cambodia
Average temperature 88°
Right in the heart and heat of Asia, you’ll find a country with some of the friendliest communities that you’ve ever come accross. What better way to experience the Khmer culture than by living within the communities, supporting Teaching, Childcare, or NGO Support volunteer projects? Volunteers here have the opportunity to live and work in the intriguing cities of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, or just outside the main center in more rural settings. For your weekends, there is no shortage of activities for the keen outdoor enthusiast, or for the winter break volunteer who is looking for some beach time, you can head to the popular coastal town of Sihanoukville!
My volunteer experience was amazing and something I will never forget. I was looking after the most beautiful children and their joy and happiness despite their personal situations was truly incredible. The volunteer house was amazing and the IVHQ staff were incredibly friendly and supportive. I made some great friendships with people all over the world which I’m sure I will hold on to forever. I loved my trip so much that I am now coming back to Cambodia for my 4th time! I would highly recommend Cambodia as a destination to everyone not only because of the amazing things to see but also because the locals are so friendly and have a love for life which is both aspiring and life changing. Tahlia Swartz
Volunteer in India
Average temperature 74°
If you’re looking to get as far away from winter as possible, consider winter break volunteer programs in India! The rich history, cuisine, architecture and culture make India an appealing volunteer abroad winter break destination. With volunteer opportunities available in both Delhi and Dharamsala, our volunteer programs in India have something to offer everyone. Support children without access to education on the Slum Teaching project, or provide assistance to local staff at one of our Childcare placements. If you’re in medical school and looking for winter break programs for college students, check out our Healthcare project in Delhi. You’ll also have the opportunity to join IVHQ on a trip to the Taj Mahal along with an engaging cultural tour during orientation week. Your weekends in India will never be dull with our local team on hand to help plan trips to Rajasthan, trekking journeys, and visits to nearby temples and waterfalls.
This program was exactly what I was expecting and more! Without a doubt my time was appreciated on the program, and the students appreciated everything. The local team were incredibly helpful and the effort that they make for the community is huge. This volunteering experience made me grow and improve myself as a person. The accommodation was amazing really cozy and comfortable, the meals were excellent and the amount of food was always more than enough. I’m really glad that I chose to do volunteer work in India, as it was really a worthwhile experience. I want to come back! Iris Damaio
Volunteer in Kenya
Average temperature 67°
Volunteering in Africa is a meaningful excuse to escape winter and IVHQ’s volunteer program in Kenya is a popular option for many winter break volunteers. This program offers opportunities for volunteers to provide support to local communities, working on our Teaching, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Women’s Education, Music and Sports Development projects in a range of rural and urban areas around Nairobi, as well as further afield in Mombasa, and within Maasai communities. The free-time travel and tour options won’t let you down, as there’s no better way to top off a winter break trip with an African safari! Taking a safari through the Maasai Mara is a truly unbeatable experience and a must-do for any volunteer traveler in Kenya! Plus Mombasa and Diani Beach are within easy reach for a relaxing weekend getaway.
I would recommend IVHQ to anyone who is wanting to travel, seek adventure, experience different cultures, see the world, and most of all make a difference. What a life changing experience it was! The Kenya staff were absolutely fantastic! I went to placement with an open mind and heart. I quickly fell in love with the children I was blessed to work with and the teacher in charge was amazing as well. I have grown tremendously as a person and I honestly feel that from this experience I can see life from a different perspective. My host “Moms” were amazing. The meals were always fresh and ready on time. I bonded and built such a strong friendship with both of the hosts at my placement house. I even came home with mulitple recipes so I can try and attempt some of the fantastic meals in which they provided. The experience and knowledge I have gained from this trip are priceless and unique. I am so thankful to have been given such a fantastic opportunity in life. Andrew Richard Snow
Volunteer in Guatemala
Average temperature 88°
Based around the quaint colonial city of Antigua, our Guatemala winter break volunteers enjoy the scenic backdrop of volcanoes, the ambiance of romantic restaurants and cobblestone streets, and a constant flow of cultural festivities. IVHQ’s Guatemala program offers an extensive range of volunteer projects, with 10 different opportunities to choose from. Volunteers looking to make a social impact can consider Childcare, Teaching English, Caring for the Elderly or Medical projects. The Turtle Conservation and Animal Care projects give you the chance to work with animals, and the Lake Conservation, Eco-Agriculture Conservation and Construction and Renovation projects are perfect for those who want to work in hands-on environments. Weekend adventures are inevitable, with hiking to Tikal, climbing volcanoes, zip-lining through forest and coffee plantations, or even surfing in nearby El Salvador - there’s no room for the winter blues!
This has been said many times, but it bears repeating. This has been one of the best experiences of my life. La Antigua is a beautiful town and Guatemala itself has a lot to offer; places to explore, different foods to enjoy, and a beautiful culture to be immersed in. The people are very friendly and at no point did I feel unsafe. I took advantage of the Spanish classes which were reasonably priced and also participated in the free Tandem Conversation program where I was partnered with a lovely Guatemalan lady who wanted to practice her English-speaking skills. I helped her with her English and she helped me with my Spanish. We’ve stayed in contact. The volunteer experience itself was more than I’d hoped for. The experience was very rewarding. I was placed at a Community Center for kids with Special Needs. There were also kids from impoverished families, but these kids were so loving, eager to please, and generally happy, that you forgot that they have difficult lives at home. I’ve never met more dedicated people than the directors of the Center. It was very humbling witnessing the passion they had for the kids in their neighborhood and their willingness/initiative to make a difference. Knowing that I’ve made a difference in the lives of these beautiful kids is priceless. If you’re undecided about volunteering, I’m hoping I’ve tipped the scales to the positive side. Deborah Cooke
Volunteer in South Africa
Average temperature 78°
South Africa is a country of diverse cultures, languages and religions, which is edged by nearly 3,000 kilometers of coastline - meaning you’ll never be without an adventure while experiencing an alternative winter break in South Africa! Winter break volunteers in South Africa are able to provide assistance within community schools in Cape Town, supporting Teaching, Sports Development and Computer Training projects. There are also opportunities to lend a helping hand at local childcare centers, or working with local youth on the Surf Outreach project. As one of the most megadiverse destinations in the world, South Africa is a special destination for volunteers looking to spend their weekends observing the local widlife on safari - think rhinos, elephants, as well as meerkats, bush babies and bat-eared foxes!
The one month I spent in South Africa wasn’t nearly enough time! The Surf Outreach program was fun and relaxed, which meant that you really got to know the kids, because they were always just so happy to be there! You meet so many like-minded people from all of these far off places and you do pretty much everything with them so you all end up like one big family! I definitely recommend going to South Africa, it’ a beautiful country with beautiful people and when you volunteer you really get to live like a local. I’m missing it so much! Brianna Hollis
Want to find out where else you can take winter break trips with IVHQ? Continue exploring our volunteer programs in 35+ destinations here, or take this quiz to find which volunteer winter break volunteer programs you’re best suited to!
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