Got your break planned yet? If you're thinking you'd like to make a difference with your time, think about taking a break with an i-to-i volunteer vacation. Conserve a lake in Guatemala or build homes for Honduran families with a little pre-planning; spend time on a Costa Rican beach, working with sea turtles in case you want sun splashed sand. See a piece of the planet and come home with a new perspective on what you can do with your world travel time. According to different sources US college students are increasingly seeking out short-term meaningful experiences by lending a helping hand. The international volunteer vacation provider does more than half of its business each year with student travel and is experiencing 40-50 percent annual growth in numbers of student vacation volunteers. i-to-i's experience with the increasing interest among students is not unique, says Lee Ann Johnson, the company's managing director. About 30,000 students opted for community service instead of a traditional vacation according to Break away in recent years. It is a national nonprofit group that helps students organize service trips. And, the number of schools participating in alternative break programs with Campus Compact since 1994.

Volunteer for a working college break

"College students are finding that they are able to give a gift that transcends gift-wrapped packages," says Lee Ann Johnson, managing director. Volunteer vacations help them gain real-world experience, explore career options and strengthen resumes, she says at the same time. Participants in volunteer vacations can obtain valuable field experience in fields including marketing, journalism, teaching, fundraising, social services, and management, says Johnson. Students pursuing a volunteer vacation can earn college credit, with the volunteer vacation provider working with both the student and academic advisor in many cases. Providers such as i-to-i also offer training certification courses to prepare students to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). i-to-i volunteers can choose from a wide variety of destinations, from India to Ireland or Costa Rica to Croatia. From teaching English to performing cultural and ecological conservation or constructing homes, volunteer opportunities range. Vacation choices can be as short as intense one-to-three week trips or as long as 24 weeks, says Johnson, creating opportunities for individual preferences. i-to-i also provides a select number of opportunities in which participants can earn money teaching English. The volunteer vacation can help them learn about their careers, their world, and themselves for college students looking to do more than sleep in late and visit with myriad aunts, uncles, and cousins over winter, spring or summer break. All i-to-i volunteer vacations are fully supported by trained work and travel advisors, paid in-country coordinators, airport pick-up and orientation, 24-hour emergency back-up, and comprehensive travel and health insurance tailored for the volunteer vacation experience in addition to this. i-to-i Volunteer Travel is an international volunteer vacation organization, specializing in helping disadvantaged communities and ecosystems around the world. The company arranges placements of 1-24 weeks in teaching, conservation, community work, building and a variety of other projects in more than 20 countries.