Trip FAQs

Learn more about our trips and application process!

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; we've found that this is the perfect number for fostering team building (it's easier to know everyone’s name) and still having a safe group size to travel with.

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.

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?

Aside from being an incredible resume builder, service trips help shape a more informed, compassionate and motivated you! By taking initiative to help others, you will be surprised at how much you gain. New friendships, and a new favorite vacation city can also be added to the list of benefits.

How much does it cost?

Prices vary by trip.  Our service learning trips typically cost between $300 and $550, which includes transportation, housing, and administrative costs. Depending on your program, this may also include your meals. 

Scholarships are also 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?

Your living arrangements for the trip are organized by WUD Alternative Breaks.  The situations will vary from trip to trip.  Some of our community partners have housing available at their sites, but not all groups offer housing.  In the past, we have stayed in hotels, hostels, community centers, churches, and bed and breakfasts.

Are these trips safe?

Yes! All trips have been approved by the UW-Madison Risk Management Department. However, they are safest when all participants are cooperating to create a healthy, team-building environment. WUD Alt Breaks has a history of working with many of these organizations in the past, consistently receiving rave reviews from participants.

The vans we use are owned and maintained by the UW-Madison and/or the State of Wisconsin and are therefore cleared for safe use by drivers that have been authorized by Alt Breaks. Participants will be given contact information for Alt Breaks Leaders and the Alt Breaks Staff Advisor in case of Emergency and for periodic check-ins, as well as the contact information for their host site and hotel in case parents/others need to contact a student. Following the safety precautions outlined at Orientation and in your Trip Participant Handbook will ensure maximum safety and make sure you have a great experience.

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?

Upon approval for a trip, you will receive an email with payment deadlines and other important dates. If you do not receive an email regarding acceptance, assume that you are on the waitlist for trips.

If you are not notified via email within 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.