Consider These 4 Spring Break Alternatives

Try volunteering or job shadowing instead of the typical college break experience.

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Instead of jetting to Mexico, college students can use their spring break to volunteer for a worthy cause.
Instead of jetting to Mexico, college students can use their spring break to volunteer for a worthy cause.

The idea of college spring break often conjures up bikini-clad girls and shirtless boys on a beach, with plenty of alcohol to fuel the fun.

But this traditional spring break isn't possible or even desirable for every college student. So what are the alternatives for that weeklong period of time that comes each spring?

JULIE:

If you're not wild about the thought of your college student road-tripping to Florida or crashing at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico (not to mention the cost of these trips), you're probably already brainstorming alternatives. Here is a list of ideas for you to consider.

1. Earn some money: Admittedly, finding work for such a short period of time can be a challenge. But if you have a job at school, check into the possibility of staying and working over break.

If you'd rather go home and visit with the family, check with old employers to see if there is any project-type work you could do for them while you're home. And if all else fails, put out the word that you're available to baby-sit, run errands, or do yard work while you're home. If you market yourself well, you should be able to pick up a few dollars to help see you through the rest of the school year.

[Manage money during school with these tips.]

2. Visit new friends: A tamer but still social spring break involves hosting a new friend or roommate in your home, or having your child visit with a new friend's family. If the two friends live far apart, it can even be a chance to see another part of the country—but (hopefully) under the supervision of parents and at a much lower cost to boot.

[Use these tips to slip through a school slump.]

LINDSEY:

During my freshman year of college, many of my friends jetted off to exotic beaches or family vacations during their spring breaks. I, on the other hand, was burnt out from school and just needed a break that was both inexpensive and relaxing. Here are some of my best alternative activities for that week.

1. Explore service trips: My mom says that the best volunteer opportunities fulfill a definite need and are in a job or area you're passionate about. An even more meaningful way to volunteer could be by traveling somewhere in the United States or even internationally to participate in service with your school. My school has an excellent alternative breaks program that is a chance to get away while also meeting new friends and fulfilling a service.

[Find out how to earn scholarship money by volunteering.]

2. Shadow a professional: Your spring break is likely too short for a full internship, but it's not too short to call up any contacts you have and see if you can follow them around for a few days.

This can be a good way to gain experience in a low-pressure environment, and can also help you build a relationship with people you might be approaching for a job in a few years. This way, you can fit in some relaxation while still spending a few days in the workplace.