5 Alternative Spring Break Programs

describe the imageAlthough the idea of basking on a beach and soaking up some tropical sun is certainly tempting, don’t think that partying in Cancun is the only way (or the best way) to spend your coveted college spring break.

More college students are choosing alternative spring breaks over traditional destinations, using their time to volunteer with programs that make a real difference in real lives. Whether it’s rebuilding homes, caring for animals, or running an after-school program for children, these week-long service trips are a chance for students to develop leadership skills among communities that need and value their help.

Chances are, your college or university has its own alternative spring break organization on campus, but check out these sites for even more ways to get involved:


Habitat for Humanity: The Collegiate Challenge is a year-round alternative break program that takes place in 200 locations throughout the U.S. Students spend a week reconstructing homes in hurricane-devastated areas such as New Orleans, working toward the organization’s overall goal of eliminating poverty by providing shelter to those in need. Never picked up a hammer? No problem. All volunteers receive training and work under supervision.

i-to-i: Students looking to volunteer and travel abroad can sign up to teach English in Thailand, work with wildlife in South Africa, or build homes for underprivileged families in Costa Rica. The site makes it easy to tailor your trip based on international location or the type of work you want to do.

United Way: This year, join the United Way of Northern New Jersey in helping families and communities rebuild their homes and their lives after the devastation of Super Storm Sandy. Students also have the opportunity to work directly with kids, supporting after-school programs for low-income families throughout Newark.

Cross-Cultural Solutions: CCS aims to bring people together through work and shared experiences to create cultural understanding. Their global volunteer programs promote sustainability. Insight Abroad is their one-week program. Majoring in a health or science field? Travel to India and help enhance the quality of healthcare, or provide support to people affected by HIV/AIDS in Ghana.

Volunteer Match: You don’t have to look much farther than your own backyard to help those in need, and you’ll discover nearby organizations through this site with a simple zip code search. Volunteer for a variety of causes, including advocacy and human rights, disaster relief, veterans and military families, and at-risk youth.