Make a Difference and Save Money This Spring Break
You hear 'spring break' and you think beach getaway. But a beach trip would be typical. What if this year you could explore somewhere you've never been and do something to help others? By reading this blog, you can learn about some unconventional ways you can enjoy spring break without breaking the bank.
Cost-Saving and Meaningful Ways to Spend Spring Break
You've worked hard all year, and winter has taken its toll on you. The knowledge that spring break is around the corner is perhaps the thing that pushes you through each day. But your bank account is low and you need money to have fun, right? Volunteering can be a rewarding experience that can benefit not only others, but you and your wallet as well.
Your friends may be going bikini-clad down in Mexico, so why should you even consider volunteering near home? The truth is, not all volunteering experiences are close to home. Many organizations, such as VolunTourism International, offer volunteer opportunities abroad.
While you need to pay to go on these trips, it's worth it. Volunteering looks good on your resume and offers unique experiences. Many of these organizations include some fun activities to reward you for your hard work. Imagine teaching English at an orphanage in Kenya and then white-water rafting or going on safari afterwards. Some colleges even offer credit for intensive volunteer work. Check with your college to see if this could work for you.
Why Pay to Volunteer?
No organization gets everything for free just because it tries to make the world a better place. The truth is, although they don't have to pay volunteers, there is an office staff to compensate and an office to maintain. Organizations need to pay for equipment, rent, postage, utilities, supplies, travel expenses and food. Organizations that ask you to pay for your trip try to give discounts through sponsors.
The organization Wilderness Volunteers (WV) asks that volunteers pay a small fee to go on a project trip (the cost is $299 as of 2016). This covers the cost of food, liability insurance and leadership fees. You must bring your own camping gear and pay for your own travel expenses - but this is still a bargain. Imagine paying less than $300 for a hotel and food in Cancun! Depending on where you live, one of the WV trips may be close (maybe within driving distance), which would save on airfare. Plus, each trip is unique - from cutting back overgrowth on hiking trails to restoring sea turtle habitats, you won't be able to do this on any normal spring break trip!
Use What You've Got
Some families have motor homes (RVs) that sit in the driveway unused for many months. If your family is in possession of an RV, you can gather some friends together and vacation! Believe it or not, most parks will exchange free campsites for volunteer work - some parks ask that you work only four out of seven days (that's still three days of no work). Work during the day and relax the rest of the night around the campfire. In fact, some places will even pay your travel expenses and food. With a handful of friends, not only can you make a difference, but you can have a great vacation!
Have No Money?
You'd be surprised how great the need for volunteers is in your neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity has affiliates in nearly every town across America. If you'd like to help build homes for the poor, sign up for one of the many ongoing programs near you. Not only will you do something for your town, but you'll save money by staying local. You'll also meet others from your city that share common interests and goals.
Chapters for national organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish foundation or the Humane Society, are always looking for volunteers. If you're lucky, there may be a fundraiser you can volunteer for during your break. These fundraisers are fun for the volunteers and may include the same meals and/or benefits that paying attendees receive. You can also volunteer as an ambassador for your college. If you go to your old high school and spread the word about your college, you may get paid for work-study (or at least earn a free college t-shirt)!
Don't want to volunteer but still want to save money this spring break? Consider a staycation!