High School Alternative Spring Break Programs Abroad

Back to Programs

A Guide to High School Alternative Spring Break Programs Abroad

Some high school students head to the closest beach, others jump into a van to hit up a music festival, a handful put on Games of Thrones marathons, and then there’s you; you’ve decided to put everyone else to shame by embracing an alternative spring break. Fellow classmates will be jealous because you’re enjoying a sunset in Costa Rica, teachers will be impressed that you’re personally trying out the echo theory inside the Pantheon, and your parents will look forward to getting a souvenir bottle of authentic saké. Short and sweet, alternative spring break programs abroad are just long enough to inspire your future educational travels, so indulge yourself.

Why Spend Spring Break Abroad

Spring means blooming flowers, chirping birds, sunny study sessions at the park, iced lattes, and the next fashion trend of sunglasses. The only thing that could make this magical season better is spending a week or two abroad.

Just like Mother Nature is waking up from winter and shedding her skin, you too can blossom into a new person with a brief experience across the border. Not only do you get automatic brownie points for taking initiative and the road less traveled, but you’d be surprised at how much personal development can be packed into a few days. In a week, go from zero to hero when it comes to mustering up the courage to order morning coffee at the local café, become a pro at navigating bus systems (note: there’s no yellow-submarine buses abroad), and gain confidence boarding a plane without Mom and Dad. The leadership qualities you’ll develop are worth more than any Extracurricular Club Vice President experiences on future college applications.

All things considered, spring break is the ideal time to head abroad. Mountain trails aren’t frozen, but the Sahara isn’t unbearable. In addition to perfect weather, you also get to experience the world without masses of tourists; since spring break varies between countries, chances are, you’ll get to actually see the Mona Lisa, not just glance in its general direction over the masses of Chinese tour groups. A week or two is enough time to paint a general picture about a foreign country and incite the travel but, but not enough to get homesick or tired of long bus transfers.

As most transformative experience tend to happen abroad, spending a meaningful spring break away from home can give clarity to what you’d like to focus on for the remainder of your school year. Whether it’s more community projects, language development, sports involvement, or just finding a part-time job to fund future travels, there’s no lack of scholastic and co-curricular inspiration to find abroad. Whatever it is, it’ll sure beat babysitting your younger sibling once again.


Great news: spring is beautiful in every corner of the world. Bad news: the world is big, and you need to pick where to go spend a meaningful spring break abroad. Great news: we’re here to help.

United States. Bigger than a lot of countries put together, the U.S. is vast in its diversity and opportunity. If you don’t want to waste two days sitting on a plane (and another two adjusting to new time zones), keep things “local.” You can’t exactly call New York boring. Hawaii and Alaska aren’t too shabby either, I’ve heard…

Central America. Close by, but a world apart. Whether it’s a volunteer opportunity on the scenic beaches of Honduras or a jungle trek through Costa Rica’s colorful rainforest, couple your time adventures abroad with some Spanish language practice (and a lot of freshly-squeezed juice). If you think your Mom’s rose garden looks pretty this time of year, just check out the vibrant “lobster claws” in Panama.

Europe. For those interested in the Classics, explore the playground of Western philosophy. Take a tour of Greece’s ruins, get to know the history and cuisine of Spain’s sunny south, and laugh at the differences between American and British English in England. If that sounds too mainstream, combine bohemian lifestyles with intricate architecture and modern art in the Czech Republic.

Alternative Spring Break Programs

Whether it’s some good humanitarian involvement or a heart-thumping trek through the Andes, there are alternative spring break program options in all sorts of fields. Try something new or pursue a long-life passion; it’s up to you, kid!

Adventure. Not just seniors suffer from senioritis; we all lose steam sitting behind desks all day. Get all of that excess energy out of your system with a wild adventure abroad. Sign up for a hike to Colombia’s Lost City or go white-water rafting in Slovakia; either one sure beats being a couch potato.

Cultural Tours. It’s a lot more exciting to eat ramen than it is to learn how Japan’s political history influences its food production. It’s also a lot more memorable. Tour Portugal’s coastal towns or learn about the UK’s many castles with a cultural tour abroad. Pick up some foreign cultural quirks, which aids in communication skills throughout the board.

Volunteer. From baby orphans to the elderly, there’s someone out there that needs your help. Wield a hammer in a construction project, reap the rewards of a land conservation program, and zone into your inner nanny with a child-care placement. Do good while exploring and having fun!

Students are not usually expected to know the local language, and any potential class time (don’t worry, there’s not a lot of it) is conducted in English. However, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a few basic phrases, out of curtesy and for a higher ease of interaction with the natives.

Tips & Advice for Spring Break Travel

No one likes to waste time when traveling; even less so when there’s only seven to 14 days spent outside of the country. To really get the most out of your alternative spring break abroad, consider these helpful tips:

  • Transportation. Unless you’re doing an epic castle tour of Italy, try to find an alternative spring break program that spends more time in less locations. Why sit in a bus for 12 hours every day, when you could be interacting with locals and eating croissants?
  • Packing. Pack half of what you think you’ll need. Especially with such a short time period abroad, you really don’t need a lot. Leave room for souvenirs instead! Also, invest in a good backpack, instead of a heavy suitcase to lug around.
  • Jetlag. No time for this pesky side-effect of travel. Start adjusting your watch and routine a couple of days before departure. If you need reinforcement once abroad, this is a good excuse to try a lot of café macchiati and café de olla’s.
  • Lean and have fun. Most importantly, see an alternative spring break as more than plane connections or a party in a new country. Remain aware of your surroundings, pick up a few lessons, and remember to let down your hair.

Benefits & Challenges

Fitting alternative spring break trip into a week might seem tricky. It’s true, helping build houses in Nicaragua or drawing the rooftops of Spain will fly by in an eye blink, and before you know it, it’ll be time to go back home. In fact, the application process itself might seem longer than the program duration. But, like a good teaser trailer, an alternative spring break trip can give you a taste for international education and travel, and you’ll know if it’s something that interests you (for longer) in the future.

Since time is brief, do consider the goal of your alternative spring break. If you’re interested in environmental conservation, the size of the carbon footprint left by the plane ride to Kenya might cancel out all of your seed-planting efforts. If you want to become a pro at a new language, a week might not get you there (however, if you’re already studying French, a week in France will definitely loosen up that tongue). Adventure excursions and cultural tours are optimal here!

Whatever the reason for doing an alternative spring break program in high school, your trip will be one for the books. Throw more than bikinis, movie dates, and Netflix into the mix, and instead give homecoming season a new twist.

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
High School Alternative Spring Break Programs Abroad


 Explore Alternative Spring Break Teen Travel Programs


This listing has been saved 22 times

SPI High School Italian Language Immersion in Tuscany

In the heart of Tuscany and a short distance from Florence, Siena is one of the major cultural centers of Italy, making it a perfect destination for SPI Study Abroad’s Italian program! The region is rich in history as Etruscan, Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance influences are visible everywhere. SPI Siena program participants will study the Italian language, culture and history, while experienci...


This listing has been saved 10 times

Law & Human Rights Work in Bolivia with Projects Abroad

Join Projects Abroad's Human Rights Project in Bolivia to make a positive impact in the lives of abused women and women who have been forced into prostitution. By taking part in this internship you will help empower women who have little hope of becoming independent, respected, and self-sufficient members of society. You will be able to offer support in the form of care and useful advice The...


This listing has been saved 4 times

NEW Under 18’s Spring Break Costa Rica Community Development

Use your spring break contributing to vital community development projects on Costa Rica’s stunning Pacific coast. Participants get a chance to work on construction projects, educational support, and sports development initiatives. You will work in the community of Quepos, a coastal community in Mexico. Explore the stunning biodiversity of the region and the vibrant culture of Latin America in ...


This listing has been saved 10 times

High School Program Spain with Seville Abroad

Spend time in Spain and get ready for an experience you won’t forget! Join our High School Program at Seville Abroad, and have assurance in the fact that your safety is our foremost concern. Plus, we will make sure you get to see, taste, and experience much of Spain throughout your trip. This study abroad program allows you to immerse in a beautiful country and its rich culture. Stay in a lo...


This listing has been saved 27 times

Reach Cambridge International Summer School

Reach Cambridge offers United Kingdom and international high school students the opportunity to gain an invaluable academic experience through a summer course in one of the top educational facilities in the world. Participants stay in the world-renowned University of Cambridge, located just 50 miles north of London. Reach Cambridge provides unique and academically rigorous one, two and three-w...


This listing has been saved 7 times

Alternative Spring Break in Jamaica

An Alternative spring break with the Jamaica Volunteer Programs gives you a chance to break away from the typical Spring Break experience. Instead of using your holidays and vacation to party; drink alcohol; sun bathe & swim all day, you can use your time to benefit the world around you. For high school, college and university students looking for International Service learning opportunities...


This listing has been saved 5 times

Spanish & Surf Program @ Nosara Spanish Institute

This program is ideal for those who would like to experience the warm waters, waves and expert instructors here on the beaches of Nosara/Playa Guiones, Costa Rica. Whether you're a novice or advanced-level surfer our program combines one of the most versatile surf breaks in Costa Rica with our intensive Spanish program. In this program, students can choose between our 10 or 20-hour Spanish prog...


School trips and Educational Study Tours in Northern Spain

Fun, motivating and inspiring trips and study tours for those students looking to learn about Spanish life and put their Spanish skills into action. Our school trips and educational study tours combine intensive Spanish studies with enjoyable afternoon activities that allow students to explore Bilbao’s most spectacular sights, obtain an in depth insight into the Spanish way of life and further ...


This listing has been saved 33 times

Budget Low Cost - 6 French & English Language Schools

Study French, or English, in Canada through a verified and fully accredited program. CSA is offering Intensive Language programs for either French or English learners. They provide flexible start dates year-around. Programs are available in weekly or monthly terms. Low cost housing options are available. Participants can have fun with cultural activities and excursions included in the prog...


This listing has been saved 3 times

Study German in Germany (1 Week to 6 Months)

The Excellence Center in Europe offers German language-intensive courses that enable you to achieve your personal, language-learning goals quickly. Here at the Excellence Center, you will receive language training in a small group setting. These courses have an average of 10 students in them. The classes are dedicated to addressing the most important aspects of your language needs. Over a short...


Spanish Soccer Programs with Euroace

Are you a soccer player wanting a new, exciting experience? Would you like to travel abroad and get a feel for the Spanish soccer style? Look no further! At Euroace we offer different soccer opportunities to provide you or your team with a unique learning and training experience. Our options include: Team Tours Go on tour with your team to Valencia to compete against elite level teams, pra...


The Oxford Spring Seminar, Oxford, England

The Oxford Spring Seminar is a week-long academic program for students in grades 10-12 held at the University of Oxford. Students live in the same colleges as undergraduates during the year, and work with leading academics, including Rhodes Scholars and University lecturers. We offer different dates throughout March and April to accommodate spring breaks. The Oxford Spring Seminar provides stud...


This listing has been saved 1 time

General & Vocational Education, University Preparation

Boost your academic and English language knowledge while experiencing most of Malta through a range of general and vocational educational programs! You will study at one of the world’s first English language schools in the world and the first ever in Malta. We boast of an unmatched reputation, as well as regularly updated teaching methods. Our programs span across university preparation, voc...


Dinner Tango Experience

A trip to Argentina isn’t complete without experiencing an authentic tango performance. Say Hueque provides independent travelers the chance to experience the cultural highlight of Buenos Aires, plus more! Enjoy a sumptuous dinner of Argentine cuisine and wine, and watch some of South America’s top dancers perform alongside a live orchestra. Choose from three locations: Esquina Carlos Gardel - ...