Calling all students! Want to do something epic this spring break that allows you to make a difference abroad without breaking the bank? Volunteering abroad on an alternative spring break is an amazing opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and explore the world in a meaningful way. Spring break trips with International Volunteer HQ involve worthwhile volunteer work, adventure, and cultural immersion – all adding up to a life changing experience!
IVHQ offers affordable short-term volunteer programs in 50+ destinations around the world where you can participate for 1-2 weeks – making them the perfect alternative spring break trips for college students! These volunteer programs cost as little as $20/day, including accommodation, with rolling start dates every week to align with your college’s spring break dates.
Make the most of your time off by volunteering in nearby countries that are easy and affordable to get to, such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, or Ecuador. Or, head further afield and uncover the beauty of Romania, Portugal, or Tanzania.
Whether you are traveling solo, or bringing your squad, you’ll be surrounded by incredible and like-minded volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. If you are looking for spring break alternatives that are affordable, good for the planet, and will make your resume stand out from the crowd – then spring break volunteer opportunities with IVHQ tick all the boxes.
Check out these top recommended volunteer experiences for your 2023 spring break trip:
Alternatively, discover why IVHQ is the best option for your spring break here or find information for your parents here.
Spring Break Volunteer 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 US$420 for 1 week, this is an affordable option. With a wide range of volunteer project choices – from Childcare and Teaching English to Healthcare – 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 at the moment, so you’re bound to make new like-minded friends you can explore with on the weekends and in your spare 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)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips in Tanzania
As one of IVHQ’s most popular African volunteer destinations, Tanzania is bursting with wildlife, natural splendor, beautiful beaches, ancient tribes and villages and the impressive Mount Kilamanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa! The Tanzania program starts from as little as US$270 for 1 week and will infuse authentic culture and diverse experiences into your alternative spring break that allows you to contribute to the community at an relaxed pace. Choose from seven impactful projects, including Teaching, Medical, Childcare, Women’s Education and more. The country is an animal lover’s paradise, boasting some of the most incredible wildlife in the world, such as elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard, buffalo and even the critically endangered rhino. Many IVHQ volunteers choose to combine our volunteer programs in Tanzania with convenient IVHQ add ons for safaris, maasai tribe visits, summiting Mount Kilamanjaro or even a trip to Zanzibar during the weekends!
Definitely one of the best experiences ever, I don’t have any regrets of being in Africa for a month. I got to meet great loving people that became friends. The greatest thing that tops it all is that you get to see the kids smile at you every time they see you, this has changed my life. Jorge Juarez (IVHQ Volunteer in Tanzania)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips 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 project 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)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips in Zanzibar
Just a short hop across the water from Tanzania on the East coast of Africa is where you’ll find this slice of paradise – a dream destination for any spring break! It’s impossible not to be enchanted as you approach the white sands, crystal blue ocean, lush forests, unique wildlife and rustic markets filled with the aroma of spices. IVHQ’s Zanzibar program has 2 amazing projects to choose from: Turtle Conservation and Rainforest & Coastal Conservation, where you can make a difference in the lives of the locals as well as positively contribute to the environment. IVHQ’s fully hosted experience also means you’ll have your airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 support included in your Zanzibar volunteer trip – so all you need to do is pack your sunnies and arrive. Living in a beachside bungalow or tucked in a forest camp while making an impact on this paradise island is the adventure many are opting for this spring break.
Overall I had a great experience, one that I am very happy happened and am very sad to be over! Jeyda Tahir (IVHQ Volunteer in Zanzibar)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips in Jamaica
Want to volunteer in the Caribbean for spring break this year? IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based by the ocean in St Mary, an area which is known for its stunning beaches and lush jungles. The community in St. Mary is very welcoming and appreciative of volunteers, making it a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture. As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to work on projects that make a real impact on the community and learn about the local way of life. These include Sustainable Agriculture, Sports, Youth Development, Kindergarten, Business Development, Teaching, and more! This is a rewarding and unforgettable place to spend your spring break that will help you to develop new skills, make new friends, and gain a deeper understanding of the Caribbean culture.
The opportunity of immersing myself in the Jamaican culture by learning the local ways and how the country works allowed me to take the experience to different lengths and make more memorable moments. Just do it! It’s a once in a lifetime experience and it’s what you make of it, don’t miss out on such an opportunity! Havishya Shah (IVHQ Volunteer in Jamaica)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips in Ecuador
IVHQ’s Ecuador program is located in the cities of Quito and Santa Elena. Quito 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. Santa Elena is a gorgeous coastal city in close proximity to some of Ecuador’s best beaches and archeological history. There is a great need for volunteers to assist with the development of this city and its communities, especially as tourism to the area grows. With a big focus on education, we offer a multitude of meaningful projects in Ecuador, including: Community Development, School Support, NGO Support, Street Children Work, Music, Sports Education, Kindergarten, Teaching English and more. 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. Alternatively, if you’re looking to make a difference outside the school environment, you can choose from Sports Healthcare, Animal Care and Environmental Education. With program fees starting at US$270 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.
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)
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Spring Break Volunteer 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 the Food Rescue, Youth and Homeless Support, Forest or Wolf Conservation 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! For the budding divers and marine conservationists, there’s also the Environmental Scuba Diving project where you will be able to gain your international diving certifications and immediately put your qualification to good use. 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$505 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)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips 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, Sustainable Agriculture, Animal Care, NGO Support, and more.
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)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips 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, Skate and Swim Outreach, Sports Development and also Teaching and Childcare. For those passionate about animals and looking to roll up their sleeves, then the Animal Care project working with dogs and cats at the animal shelter will fill your heart. If you’re after an abundance of wildlife including the ‘Big 5’ – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo – then you don’t want to miss the amazing opportunity on IVHQ’s Wildlife Conservation project in the famous Kruger National Park volunteering in conservation work while being immersed in life on the magnificent reserve. 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)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips in Mexico
Rich in tradition and history, Mexico boasts plenty of cultural attractions and is within a short drive of many crisp Caribbean beaches. IVHQ’s Mexico volunteer program is based in Merida which is the largest city in the popular tourist state of Yucatán. Projects are full of variety with Teaching, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Animal Care and a unique Sustainable Agriculture project all available. With IVHQ’s program fees starting from as low as US$320 for 1 week, anyone looking for a budget friendly, impact-led trip without venturing too far from the States for their spring break need not look any further. Just a hop, skip and a jump away and you’ll be immersed in huge pyramids, remarkable works of art, incredible landscapes and delicious cuisine while making an impact in the culturally rich communities.
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)
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Spring Break Volunteer Trips in Peru
IVHQ’s Peru volunteer programs are certainly one that won’t break the bank, with fees starting as low as US$250 for 1 week, including accommodation. The cities of Cusco and Lima are some 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 a wide variety of projects in Peru – Animal Care, Childcare, Medical, Construction and Renovation, Community Support, Eco-Agriculture Conservation, Jungle Conservation, Special Needs Care and Teaching English just to name a few. Each project gives you a unique insight into the Peruvian culture as you work within the local communities and you will certainly gain a wealth of life experience. When you’re not volunteering, Cusco and Lima offer 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)
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Why is IVHQ 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 124,000 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.
If you’re looking to travel with a group of eight or more friends, 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. 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.
If you can’t decide which program to go for or need some help deciding, fill out this quick form and our team of experts will give you personalized program recommendations to match your volunteering goals and travel plans.
Need to chat to your 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 124,000 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!