Ahhh, the middle of March; A time when the days get longer and the sun gets warmer. You can’t help but feel excited about the impending spring, and can hardly wait to throw those Sorel snowboots that take up so much room into the back of your closet and put about six pairs of Havaiana’s into that prime real estate spot right up front.
Unfortunately, this time of year is always bittersweet for me, and I imagine many of you other post-grads out there feel the same. You know what I’m talking about… it’s Spring Break Fever.
I have had the pleasure of being born and raised in a college town, and while this always ensures that there is a great bar scene, it has also made facing that fact that I’m no longer a student a little bit harder to swallow. This week, all of the bars will be empty. The local coffee shop won’t have a line around the corner at 11am. Pizza delivery guys will be wandering around aimlessly wondering what to do with themselves. I will be wishing that I was ditching the books and heading to Cancun or some other tropical destination for some spring break fun! Instead, I’ll be plugging away at my desk job from 8:30-5 and stalking my youngest sisters’ instagram photos.
Being a 20-something in this day and age is tough. Between rent, student loans, car payments, insurance, and trying to save for the future, who the heck has room for vacations in their budget anymore? If you’re like me you’re probably working two jobs just to stay afloat and vacation seems like a pipedream unless it’s a long weekend to attend a wedding of a friend. The other night I was working at my second job (a gourmet chocolate store in a swanky neighborhood) and a couple of high school students from an urban school came in and were looking for donations for an alternative spring break to Nicaragua. I forked over more money than I was making during that shift to them because I’m a complete sucker for that kind of stuff. I sent them on their way, and then it clicked… Who says you have to be a student to do an alternative spring break??
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I caught the travel bug long ago, and yet here I am at 26 years old having never even considered this option. Anyway, I’m now completely obsessed with the idea of doing some kind of home swap or service trip. If i’m going to spend my hard earned money on a vacation in the sun, I would rather have it go somewhere that counts instead of to an excessive amount of overly-sweet frozen drinks. That being said, I would like to share with you some of the gems that I found during my research in case anyone else out there has Spring Break Fever and are looking for an inexpensive and politically conscious way to get away from it all!
Global volunteers specializes in placing short term volunteers onto long term projects that are designed to support, nurture, and set children up for success. You can volunteer with your family, with a group of friends, or as a solo traveler and be set up with a group of like-minded travelers whom you’ll get to know very well, very quickly. (I can’t think of a better way to meet the man of my dreams than by doing something like this! Single ladies, get on that!)
I chose this site because they have a huge emphasis on choosing locations for volunteers that will have the greatest positive impact on creating and maintaining strong environmental, human-right, and eco-tourism values. Please note, this site does not do actual volunteer trip placements, but rather suggests and gives tips about where to go and what to do. This is ideal for the independent traveler who’s not looking for an organized trip.
Jaunted is an awesome travel blog geared towards young people looking to make a difference. They have articles about everything from volunteer honeymoons to Sean Penn’s mission work in Haiti. If you’re even remotely interested in doing some volunteer work then this blog is a must read!
Anyway, I hope that many of you will join me in planning an alternative vacation at your earliest convenience. There’s nothing more rejuvenating than feeling like you have contributed something positive to the world, so grab a buddy, significant other, or maybe just your favorite sunscreen and get packing!
Peace, love and tie-dye,