Frequently Asked Questions

Why go on an Alternative Break Trip?

Everyone has their own reasons—meet new people, see a new corner of the world, learn about new topics and issues firsthand, serve the community, do something different. An alternative break trip can also be a great way to reinforce the theory you learn in the classroom with practice in the real world, a way to step out of your comfort zone, a way to try new activities, a way to develop new skills, a way to make new friends and lifelong memories. Find your reasons! Contact us or attend one of our interest meetings to learn more and decide if this awesome experience is for you!

Who can go on an Alternative Break Trip?

Trips are designed for current Cal Lutheran students—undergraduate and graduate. We also encourage faculty participation when possible. Trips have various activities suitable for different ability and comfort levels. 

Is it safe?

Yes—well, it is as safe as we can make it. Safety is our top priority. We know that traveling anywhere comes with risks. We work closely with our partner organizations to be aware of and create risk management plans to ensure the safety of our group.  So while there are always risks associated with any activity, the University tries to minimize those to the best of our ability.

  • Before a trip departs, we hold pre-trip meetings for several purposes: to build the team, to communicate trip details, and to reinforce safety practices.  We offer time at each meeting to answer questions that are important to trip participants.
  • The CSC checks with the Center for Disease Control and with the on-campus Health Services to inform students of any necessary pre-trip immunizations and precautions. (International trips)
  • If we are traveling abroad, we will not go to a location that has a warning issued by the US State Department.
  • While out of the country, each participant is registered with the State Department.
  • When traveling, students are asked to be with groups of a minimum of three persons.
  • We have multiple locations where emergency and medical information is stored.
  • While abroad, there is typically an in-country host with our group at all times (check with the CSC staff for more specifics about your trip).
  • An extensive First Aid kit goes with every group.
  • As part of traveling abroad, the built-in cost includes supplemental medical insurance that typically includes emergency medical evacuation back to the United States or another designated developing country.
  • Packets of emergency, health and other information for each participant are with each administrator/chaperone at all times, as well as stored in offices on campus for easy access in case of emergency.

If you are concerned about safety and have additional questions, please contact Madeline Liberti at so we can discuss what specific additional steps are being taken to ensure the safety of our group!

How much do they cost?

This varies, depending on the trip.  The Alternative Winter Breaks typically costs around $600- $800 (including airfare). Our Alternative Spring Breaks vary, depending on location and project. A fair range is $1,000- $1,900.  
All costs are approximate and may be more—or less!—expensive.  Please attend an interest meeting or email Madeline Liberti at for more information.

What is included in the price of the trip?

Typically, cost includes round-trip airfare to and from the destination from campus with the group.  All meals while in-country or on location are also included (typically, meals en route in the airport are the responsibility of participants). Lodging and on-site transportation are also covered. A recreational activity (specific to the trip) is usually included as well: this can range from a local tour to a hike to a museum. If the trip is international, supplemental international insurance is also included.

Not included are: any desired souvenirs, any supplemental recreation activities (if there is time and availability), required immunizations, other personal costs.

What does a typical trip day look like?

Schedules vary, but are typically as follows: Days start around 7:00 AM for breakfast. A brief group meeting happens, and then our team departs for the worksite for an 8:00 AM start time. Teams work until lunch, around noon to 1:00 PM. After lunch, work resumes. Water and snack breaks are interspersed throughout the day as needed. Around 4:15 or 4:30 PM, teams clean up for the day and head back to the lodging or meal site around 4:45 PM. Dinner is served (or prepared, depending on the trip). After dinner, there is some down time for showers and relaxing. Typically, a group meeting (reflection time, fun time, information, etc.) is scheduled for about an hour. After that comes bedtime after a hard day’s work!

Note that each trip will have mandatory pre-departure team meetings to orient your team to the specifics of your trip as the dates approach.

What are pre-departure requirements?

We will be holding several mandatory pre-departure meetings to start building the team that will be traveling and working together for a week, and to share important information, paperwork, and safety information. There will always be a time for questions and answers as they arise. These meetings are an important venue for communication—they are mandatory so that we can gather the whole team and prepare team members in an efficient manner! 

We also ask you to complete your immunizations and your payment plan (unless prior arrangements have been made) before departure.  There will, of course, be forms to fill out; these will be addressed at pre-departure meetings.

Who leads the trips?

The trips are led by a team of people. A Cal Lutheran administrator who has been involved in the planning and coordination of the trip will be present (typically Madeline Liberti or another experienced administrator). There is also a team of student small group leaders who design and facilitate many of the meetings and reflection times. There may be a faculty member who attends to help facilitate some components and exercises. On most trips, there is a representative from the organization we are traveling with present with our group at all times (i.e. a Habitat country coordinator).

How do I reserve a spot?

Apply for the trip by filling out the application online! Applications will be posted on the website early in the fall semester. Please note that there is a separate application for Student Trip Leaders. If you have any questions, please attend an interets meeting or contact Madeline Liberti at We would be happy to share more information with you and to help you determine if this is the experience is right for you.

How am I going to pay for this?

We have prepared a document with some ideas to get you started on how to fundraise if that is how you choose to earn your trip cost. 

There are opportunities to reduce your cost and to step up your role in the week by applying for one of the leadership positions within the trip as a student trip leader.

We also have some need- and merit-based travel grants for which all students are welcome to submit the supplemental application. These grants have been funded in a variety of ways, and typically cover up to a third of the total trip cost for a student.