Alternative Spring Break Ideas for College Students

college spring break catholic

When I was a college student, the only thing I wanted to do during Spring Break was sleep. I didn’t have money to go on a vacation with friends. And, to be honest, I was intimidated by the party scene MTV projected on their Spring Break programming. With so many “study abroad” options on college campuses, Spring Break doesn’t have the same attraction for college students as it once did. Why limit travel to a week in Spring when you can study in Europe for semester, am I right?

Alternative Spring Break Ideas for College Students

Maybe you don’t have a study abroad option and you feel the same way I once did about Spring Break. So let me try and paint another canvas for you to contemplate for your upcoming or future Spring Breaks. You don’t have to blind anyone with your pale or ashy skin in a bathing suit after this winter’s polar vortex. In fact, you can make this spring one where you grow closer to God, enter into Lent in a more profound way, and give Him all the glory. If that sounds inviting, consider these alternative Spring Break options.

Personal Retreat

One of the best Spring Breaks I ever had was when I took a personal retreat where I knew no one! Better yet, I couldn’t even talk to anyone but a spiritual director. If you haven’t guessed, it was a silent retreat, and it was powerful.

Look into local or distant retreat options such as a Blessed is She Shine retreat, an 8-day Ignatian retreat, or a silent retreat.

Sign up and sign out! Tell your friends and family that you will be away, turn off the cell phone, and stop. Take naps, shut your brain off from studies, and allow your eyes to focus on the Lord, not your screens. This will feed the hunger you want satisfied more than any Vegas buffet or night club.

Choose Your Own Adventure

For the past few years, I have been blessed to have Holy Week off work. Each year, my best friend and I would go on an adventure. One year we went to New York City to celebrate her birthday, another year we road tripped to California. Then, we did the most adventurous trip ever: we hiked the Grand Canyon to Havasupai Falls. Havasupai is the only place in the United States that still gets mail by Pony Express. The waters are crystal blue and the terrain was rough to hike. We took this adventure the year my dad died, and my father loved camping. It was a trip where I felt close to my father and my Father.

Adventure enlivens your soul. It could be taking a hike with some friends for a day, going paragliding, visiting a museum, or taking a photography class. Regardless of what your adventure is, choose something you have never done and bring a friend along, or just your Bible, journal, and Jesus. See the world with new eyes; see the world through Christ’s eyes.


There are so many service opportunities that you can look into locally and abroad. Habitat for Humanity was one of my favorites long before Chip and Joanna came on HGTV.

Giving back and serving so that a family can have a home to call their own allows the Beatitudes to come to life. Working with power guns and hammers might not be your style, so find what speaks to your giftedness and call that organization to volunteer today!

Mission Trips through Campus Ministry

As a Campus Minister, one of my jobs is to coordinate the Alternative Spring Break Mission Trips. This year we are traveling to New York City, the Dominican Republic, and Tijuana. Our FOCUS missionaries are also taking students to England and Peru.

There are countless ASB Mission Trips through your university and Campus Ministry programs on campus so connect with your Campus Minister to see what is available.

In addition, some diocesan and parish young adult ministries have ASB Missions or even pilgrimages, so check with them to see if there is anything you can be a part of.

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Theology of the Body Institute

One spring I decided to grow in my Faith knowledge by attending the Theology of the Body Institute. I have to admit that when my instructor said that the course was a master’s program crammed into a week, I started to sweat. But the course was not overwhelming. In fact, I would describe it as prayerful, full of truth, healing, and challenging in the best way possible.

If you want to grow theologically, check into a week-long program such as TOB Institute or connect with your diocese to see what they offer in formation or conferences.

Go Home

Of course, you do have parents and you might be missing your siblings a bit, so there is always a trip home that speaks to your heart. Take some time to actually be at home and visit with your parents. Offer to help around the house and maybe even take your mom or dad out for dinner or a fun family day.

Maybe you can purchase a copy of To the End and do it with your sisters and mom during Lent and in person while you are home. Go to Mass with your family or even Reconciliation with them. Make it a Spring Break they will remember for years to come.

Whatever you decide to do, bring Christ into it. Make time for the Sacraments and time with the Lord. Alternate how you see Spring Break and allow the Lord to bring new life into your heart this Spring.

What are your plans for Spring Break this year?

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Tricia Tembreull is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a California girl with a boundless passion for life. After two decades of ministering to teens and youth ministers as a trainer, ministry mentor, and speaker in Catholic youth ministry, Tricia now serves as Campus Minister at USC Caruso Catholic Center. She loves adventure and seeks it everywhere she goes. As an avid foodie, she enjoys testing new recipes out on friends and family, gathering them around the table to encounter Christ in one another and be drawn to the satisfying unity we crave in the Eucharist.

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