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Trip FAQs

Learn more about our trips and application process!

If you have any questions not answered here, feel free to email 

Who can apply for an Alt Break? How many people are accepted?

All UW-Madison students are able to apply, including International students, undergraduates and graduate students. Most trips will have 9-10 participants. This number is small enough to foster close team building, large enough to ensure safety, and (most importantly) it's number of people that fit into two university vans.

What is the application process?

There are two applications for each trip - one for Site Leaders and one for Participants. After checking out our website and becoming familiar with our program, determine if you would like to be a Site Leader or a Participant. Ensure that you fully understand the responsibilities and expectations for Site Leader/Participants, then fill out the online application. Applications are only accepted for a limited time, so be aware of deadlines.


There are two applications for each trip. One for Site Leaders and one for trip participants. If you are not chosen as a site leader you will have the option to be considered as a trip participant without the need to submit a second application. There is also a third application for scholarships that is separate from the trip application.

What is a Site Leader?

Site Leaders are the liaisons between the WUD Alternative Breaks Committee and our trip participants. They are responsible for the creation of a safe and inclusive environment for all students, the development of activities for students to participate in during the alternative break trip, and the execution of reflection activities on their respective trips. Site Leaders are essential for us to create an engaging service-learning experiences for our students.


To read more about a Site Leaders position click here. You may also email with any additional questions.

What will I be doing on my Alternative Break?

Each trip offers a unique volunteer experience working with different organizations. Alt Breaks partners with environmental, social and business based organizations that will allow you to get involved in various projects and activities. In the past, volunteers have worked on a variety of projects including environmental restoration, understaffed soup kitchens, initiatives to reduce homelessness and assisting those with special needs.

Every semester, we post trip descriptions for each alternative break. Read those to learn more about the location, the organization partnered with and what will be accomplished during the trip. To determine which trip you'd like best, we suggest that you also research the organization that we have partnered with for each trip to decide if that is the type of work you would like to do. 

What are the benefits of going on an Alternative Breaks service work trip?

Alternative Break trips were originally created as an 'alternative' to the classic spring break trips that college students are known for. They allow students to learn and grow while helping other communities. They help shape students into a more informed, compassionate, and motivated active citizen! You'll learn leadership and communication skills, gain friendships, and it's an incredible resume builder. We also highly encourage all students to look into getting a leadership certificate, Alternative Breaks, can count for the service portion of the certificate. For more information regarding that please visit or contact

How much does it cost?


Prices vary for every trip since each trip is planned that year. Our service trips typically cost between $200 and $400 although we continue to work to lower trip cos. These prices include transportation, housing, and administrative costs. Depending on the trip this may also include meals. We attempt to find housing that provides a kitchen so that your group can cook together to lower food costs and build team spirit.

There is also a discount for all Site Leaders as well as scholarships that are available on a need and merit basis.

How do we travel to the service trip locations?

All of our domestic trips drive from Madison to the service location using vehicles from UW Fleet or the state Department of Administration. The start and end dates of the trip are when you will be leaving from and arriving back in Madison. WUD Alternative Breaks will reserve the vehicles, but trip participants are responsible for picking up the vehicles on the day of departure. There are university imposed limits on how far/ how long a team of drivers can go during a single day; however if your trip is likely to push those travel limits we will have pre-planned a stop for your group.

Where do we stay on the trips?

Living arrangements for each trip is organized by the Alternative Breaks committee. The situations vary depending on each trip. Some community partners offer housing or partner within nearby organizations with housing. Otherwise, we try to find low cost housing in community or religious centers, hostels, or bed and breakfasts. For any two day trips we will also provide lodging at a mid-way point for you to stop at overnight.

Are there trainings we have to attend prior to our trip?

Yes! There are two or three orientations each semester for you to get to know your group, complete team building activities and learn more about the work you will be doing on your service trip! There is also a post trip gathering you attend to share your experiences and meet some community partners!

Site Leaders also have a leadership training, learning how to properly facilitate and how to become a better leader.

How will I know if I am on a trip or on the waitlist?

Once you have been selected as a trip participant, you will receive an email with payment deadlines and other important dates. If you do not receive an email regarding acceptance, assume that you have been placed on the waitlist for trips.

If you are not notified via email within one (1) week of being waitlisted for a trip, please contact us at for assistance.

How do trip payments work? If I can't go, can I get a refund?

Currently you pay for the trip in two payments.  The first payment is a $150 deposit to reserve your spot on the trip; this is due within three business days of your acceptance onto a WUD Alternative Breaks trip.  The second payment is for the remainder of the trip cost and is collected at the mandated pre-trip orientation session.  Payments can be made via cash, check (made out to Wisconsin Union), or credit card (VISA or Mastercard).

WUD Alternative Breaks has a no refund policy for both the trip deposit payments and the final trip payment.  If a trip has to be cancelled by WUD Alternative Breaks, a full refund may be processed for the individuals enrolled for the trip at the time of cancellation.  We will also consider issuing a refund should an individual participant experience an emergency or unforeseen incident prior to the trip.