Alternative Spring Break Trips: Volunteer Abroad Trips for Students


Instead of spending your spring break on the sofa, why not explore alternative spring break trips? For instance, you can do something meaningful and life-changing, like volunteering abroad. By participating in a spring break volunteer trip, not only will you get to immerse yourself in another culture, but you’ll also get to help improve the quality of life there.

There are many advantages to volunteering abroad, such as the chance to help people, travel the world, learn new skills and meet great people. These reasons are precisely why volunteer abroad programs are increasing in popularity.


Are you convinced yet that alternative spring break trips are in your future? Before you pack your bags, learn about the best volunteer abroad programs offered during spring break. Whether you want to go on your own, or with a group of friends, there are many volunteer opportunities available Here’s all you need to know about spring break volunteer trips:

Types of Spring Break Volunteer Abroad Programs

The diversity of choices you’ll have is limited by the one- or two-week period you’ll have in March or early April. But options still abound. From Teaching English abroad and conservation programs to HIV/AIDS volunteer projects and elderly care projects, there is seemingly no limit to how you can help.

Here are just a few of the things you could do during your volunteer trip this spring break:

  • Help protect sea turtles in Costa Rica.
  • Build housing and schools in Tanzania.
  • Read with children on the island of Bali.
  • Raise awareness about health issues in Fiji.
  • Help develop sustainable agricultural practices in Cambodia.

So, as you can see, you can still go someplace tropical–keeping with the flavor of spring break–while doing something that will have a huge positive impact. And that is what’s most important.

As one volunteer in the Ecuador program run by Love Volunteers said, “I had an amazing time in Ecuador, and it was by far the best trip of my life. I worked in the south part of Quito at a health clinic, which was a remarkable experience.”

Requirements for Spring Break Volunteer Abroad Programs

Many spring break programs have minimal requirements for entry (with the exception of some medical volunteer programs). Most of the skills you need to know are taught during orientation or training.

Though many organizations focus on programs for adults (those who are at least 18 years old), teen volunteer abroad programs, now open to high school students, are becoming more and more popular!

Please note: You usually have to purchase travel and/or health insurance for the trip abroad. The one major exception we have found is Agape Volunteers, which includes free comprehensive travel insurance. Agape Volunteers offers affordable volunteer trips throughout Africa and supports dozens of one to two-week programs – perfect for spring break!

Also, each program may have some other requirements. Check-in in advance before applying.

Best Spring Break Volunteer Abroad Trips to Consider

The alternative spring break programs listed here share the following things in common:

  1. The organizations are reputable.
  2. The programs are affordable for the most part. We know about volunteer sticker shock!
  3. The quality of the activities involved in the program is top-notch.

To make it simpler, we’ve divided programs between spring break service trips for high school students and those geared toward college students and other adults.

Best Spring Break Volunteer Programs for High School Students

Here are spring break service trips for high school students worth considering:

1. Plan My Gap Year – Sri Lanka Elephant Experience

There are lots of volunteer programs dedicated to preserving the elephant. Plan My Gap Year’s Sri Lanka Elephant Experience is one of the best available for those under 18. Spend two weeks learning and promoting awareness about the challenges facing elephants in Sri Lanka, as well as assisting with walking, feeding and washing elephants. One of the highlights of the program is the safari in Udawalawe National Park.

2. Projects Abroad – Public Health Team Trip in Mexico

In Guadalajara, Projects Abroad’s Public Health program focuses on community health campaigns and medical initiatives. This option is one of the organization’s Team Trips that coincides with spring break dates. During this trip, you’ll work under the supervision of medical professionals. This program lasts one week, and you’ll live with a host family.

3. Rustic Pathways – Spring to Fiji

Rustic Pathways’ programs are specifically designed for high school students. This program takes volunteers to the beautiful islands of Fiji, where they help local communities with education and infrastructure projects. There is also some fun involved in the program, like kayaking and zip-lining. Expect to come back with lots of memories.

4. Global Vision International – Spring Break Costa Rica Community Development

Global Vision International’s spring break program in Costa Rica is meant for those under 18 years old. With an emphasis on community development, volunteers work to improve the quality and accessibility of education and construct and renovate gardens. You’ll spend your time volunteering in the community of Quepos, a coastal community located right beside Manuel Antonio National Park. The program lasts a week but will leave you with a lifetime of memories.

5. Global Leadership Adventures – Dominican Republic Spring Break Service Adventure

First and foremost, when you join Global Leadership Adventure’s program in the Dominican Republic, you get the chance to help out with important activities like school building, community health initiatives, and garden construction. During free time, you get to go snorkeling over coral reefs, sit on pristine beaches, and dance merengue and bachata with locals. Yes, the experience is as amazing as it sounds.

Best Spring Break Volunteer Programs for College Students and Adults

Here are spring break volunteer service trips and programs worth considering if you are an adult or college student. Keep in mind that because of their length, probably won’t offer course credit:

1. International Volunteer Headquarters – Volunteer in Madagascar

International Volunteer Headquarters is known for its diverse array of program options. The organization’s program in Madagascar goes on year-round, which means you can make the trip during spring break. Projects include teaching and community development, marine conservation and forest conservation. You can choose to stay for as little as two weeks or as long as 12 weeks (if you don’t need to get back to school or work).

2. Maximo Nivel – Volunteer in Construction

When you volunteer for Maximo Nivel’s construction program, you get to choose among various destinations, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. During the project, you’ll do everything from removing dirt and mixing cement to carrying brick and painting. The great aspect of this program is that your impact is very tangible. After a week (or longer if you decide to stay), you’ll clearly see how you helped build or repair homes, schools, and orphanages for the local community.

3. Love Volunteers – Volunteer in Ecuador

Known for budget-friendly volunteer programs, Love Volunteers has a bunch of choices for spring break volunteers. But perhaps Love Volunteers’ programs in Ecuador is the best option. It starts every Monday and lasts for one week or longer if preferred, making it perfect for a spring break trip. Program options include:

  • Developing agricultural and environmental sustainability.
  • Working at a children’s daycare in Quito.
  • Helping preserve Amazon wildlife.
  • Caring for the elderly.
  • Teaching English.

4. Projects Abroad – Childcare and Community Program in Jamaica

When you choose Projects Abroad’s Childcare and Community Program in Jamaica you’ll assist staff to help children learn through play and advance their educational development. This trip coincides with most colleges’ spring break dates and is a great option to do something worthwhile during your holiday. You can add the experience to your resume, and know that you’re improving the lives of those in need.

5. Frontier – Peru Penguin Conservation

Those cute Humboldt penguins of Peru are endangered, but programs to preserve this precious species are having a positive impact. Frontier’s Peru Penguin Conservation program is a chance for you to assist in conserving these precious animals. Programs start every Monday and last one week. The main goal is to build and create a safe habitat for the penguins to live and breed happily. During the project, you’ll be working alongside a dedicated team at a penguin research center.

6. Agape Volunteers – Volunteer in Africa

Founded in 2011, Agape Volunteers is a UK charity that offers humanitarian aid throughout Africa. With 15 affordable projects in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa, it has much to offer the college student on a spring break. Stay for one week, or stretch your break into a gap year! Work in childcare, teaching, medical care, HIV counseling, sports coaching, and wildlife conservation.

7. Global Vision International – Volunteer With Children in South Africa

Sponsored by Global Vision International, Volunteer With Children in South Africa is held throughout the year and aims to help orphaned and disadvantaged children obtain educational opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. The idea is to create a curriculum for the children where they can develop their full potential in a safe and caring environment. The program lasts two weeks and is held in and around Cape Town.

Spring Break Trips with Abroadly

If you’re searching for high-quality, student-friendly volunteer programs abroad for your spring break, consider Abroadly, Volunteer Forever’s booking platform. You can search for programs in your area of interest and destination of choice in seconds.

Choose among hundreds of programs in education, healthcare, human rights, environmental conservation, construction and community development, sports, and other industries. Once you find a suitable spring break program, apply directly on Abroadly’s site. If you aren’t accepted, don’t worry—your application fee will be fully refunded.

When you apply through Abroadly, you get the chance to win a $500 scholarship and raise money on Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform. Plan your alternative spring break trip and start your search today!

Volunteer in the Peruvian Amazon and Tour Machu Picchu

Bamba Experience’s project aims to preserve the Amazon Rainforest—a breathtaking area that covers more than two thousand square miles (which is actually half of the globe’s remaining rainforests). During the project, you’ll be tackling some of the most critical issues facing the Amazon by participating in biodiversity research, wildlife rescue, turtle repopulation, and building and trail maintenance. The program also includes a tour of Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Inca citadel and one of the world’s most incredible historical sites. Does this sound like a good way to spend your spring break?

The program fee starts $2,194 for two weeks. Check out more details here!

Volunteer for Marine Conservation in South Africa

Plan My Gap Year’s project takes you to Plettenberg Bay, where you’ll do everything from identify marine species and perform river health assessments to clean up beaches and assist with community outreach. You’ll also learn how to do fin profiling and catalog dolphins and whales (pretty neat, right?). Other duties include tracking birds, removing alien vegetation, and elasmobranch egg case collection. You’ll stay in a volunteer house that’s close to shops, restaurants, and the ocean, making having fun during your spring break volunteer trip convenient.

The program fee starts at $774 for one week, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Check out more details here!

Volunteer with Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Volunteering Solutions’ project is perfect for those looking to spend spring break by the beach helping Costa Rica’s turtle population. The main goal of this program is to build a sustainable egg-harvesting environment for the turtles by doing the following: keeping nesting grounds away from human poachers, cleaning beaches, performing night patrols, and collecting eggs to keep them away from predators. When you’re not busy saving turtles, you can explore the local area. Shop at the markets, relax on the sand, hike in the jungle, and more.

The program, which takes place in Puntarenas, costs $966 for one week, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Check out more details here!

Have the Best Spring Break Ever!

No matter what your interests are and what your budget is, you have diverse options when it comes to an alternative spring break trip. The programs featured here offer you a variety of ways to make a real impact in a range of locations across the world.

As you select a program, consider where you feel you’ll make the most noticeable difference, as well as which one will be the most fulfilling personally. This will ensure you choose the right spring break volunteer program — and come home smiling (because you just had the best spring break ever).

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