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 join one of our interest meetings to learn more and see if this 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 a top priority for us.  We know that traveling anywhere can be dangerous. We work closely with our partner organizations and are sure to know what steps and plans they have to ensure safety or handle situations.  So while there are always risks associated with any activity, the University tries to minimize those to the best of our abilities.

  • 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 remain for trip participants.
  • The CSC checks with the Center for Disease Control and with the on-campus Health Services to do 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 places 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 two offices on campus for easy access in case of emergency.

If you are concerned about safety and have additional questions, please contact  Madeline Liberti 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 (incl 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 LAX 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), transportation to and from LAX (we do help arrange carpools), 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 through 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 Nicole 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, if you have any questions you can attend an information meeting or contact contact Nicole at . We will be able to share more information with you and to help you determine if this is the experience 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 merit-based travel grants for which all students are welcome to submit applications. These grants have been funded in a variety of ways, some through the Community Leaders Association, some through fundraising in the Cal Lutheran community (restaurant nights, etc.), etc. Info, deadlines and applications can be found on the website for the specific trip.