• A group of people looking at a mural
  • A group of people hiking
  • A woman holding a knife in her right hand and a celery in her left hand

Alternative Break Trips

Group of students on a mountain

Explore an Alternative Break Trip

Want to do something different on your academic break? Join a UNLV Alternative Break Trip! Often called “alt breaks,” these are student-led, university-sponsored trips that typically last a week. They’re a great way to experience a different community and explore social justice issues through service alongside communities. While you travel, your group will do service, learn, live simply, and get to know your fellow travelers and host community. Administrative or academic faculty members attend to support learning and maintain administrative aspects. These trips are subsidized by the University to be affordable to students, but still have some financial commitment from participants (cost dependent on the trip).

Program Values

Our trips are crafted to be affordable and different from the everyday. This means everything from sleeping in shared spaces, cooking shared meals, sharing in chores and turning your cell phone off.
Our teams should get to know each other, as well as the local community hosting us.
We strive to work alongside communities, finding nonprofit partners that are deeply connected with the community and working in partnership for social change.
It is important that we do service, but also learn about issues on a deeper level to understand why structural inequity exists and how we can work for social change. This process is often slow and challenging; we try to find hope along the way.
After our trips return, we take time to share our experiences with others, continue service and issue education, and plan steps we can take to advocate for social change.

To create an effective and learning and service experience, participants commit to a drug- and alcohol-free experience. We include some (limited) recreation time as a group to experience the local destination, but that looks very different for every trip.

Trip Descriptions

2018-19 Trips

SPRING BREAK—all trips happen March 17-23
*We are announcing trip topics this year rather than destination—join us and dive deeper into a topic!

Topic: Immigration at the US-Mexico Border
Cost: $100
Description: To explore the complex issue of immigration, we will work with local partners who are doing social justice work in this border city. Whether touring the border, touring a local park to learn about the history, learning from advocacy groups, visiting a local university to see how this topic is addressed in their context, or serving with a local community garden, this trip will be an interesting and powerful experience. We will also take some time to take in some of the local sights on Friday.
*Important note: Locations on this trip may include a border checkpoint and identification check.

Topic: Fire Ecology
Cost: $100
Description: Work with one agency to learn about the impacts of fire, the influence of hu. Learn about the connection between people, animals, and the environment while doing a variety of service projects with the sanctuary.
*Important note: this trip will involve working outdoors during the day on uneven terrain, in dirt and soil, and hiking in and out to sites.

Topic: LGBTQIA+ Perspectives and Experiences
Cost: $100
Description: Explore the history of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement and the changing policies of today that affect this community. Serve with a variety of organizations doing projects that could include: working at a food bank, helping in a community garden, or connecting with individuals experiencing homelessness. The LGBTQIA+ community has a range of experiences and identities, and this trip will seek to take an intersectional look at the topics this community faces. Debut trip!

Topic: Food and Housing Insecurity
Cost: $125
Description: Do service and learning centered on how housing and food insecurity affects different groups of people. We may be volunteering with a food bank, hygiene access, meal kitchens and wraparound outreach agencies, comprehensive meal delivery programs and more as the group explores the intersectionality of poverty across different identities. We will also take time to see the local city on Friday, but most of our time will be spent learning and doing service.

Topic: Environmental Conservation, Restoration and Recreation
Cost: $100
Description: Work with the Catalina Island Conservancy, 20 minutes of the coast of Los Angeles, to learn about environmental conservation and native ecology to the island. In past years projects have included trail building, painting and landscaping, beach clean-ups, and invasive plant species removal. Discuss restoration, conservation and recreation and how to balance these sometimes-competing needs. Debut trip!
*This trip involves light camping and outdoor living and work.

May Trips

All trips happen May 19-25
*We are announcing trip topics this year rather than destination—join us and dive deeper into a topic!

Topic: Environmental Ecology- Balancing Restoration and Recreation
Cost: $100
Description Work and learn about environmental conservation and native island ecology. In past years projects have included trail building, painting and landscaping, beach clean-ups, and invasive plant species removal. Discuss and explore environmental restoration, conservation and recreation and how to balance these sometimes-competing needs

*This trip involves light camping and outdoor living and work.

Topic: Mass Incarceration and Community Development
Description: Explore the fundamentals to the this country’s justice system and how organizations are working to develop community to try and break the school-to-prison pipeline and reduce recidivism. Work this week will include volunteering with nonprofits focusing on education development, serving with work-ready programs, learning from policy groups.

Applying for a Trip

To submit a complete application for any trip, there are 2 steps:

  1. Submit your application online (can take 25-40 minutes) for:
    1. Spring Break trips 
    2. May trips and 
  2. Submit deposit online (link is at the end of online application)
    1. Credit/debit is processed online via the link; cash/check process online, select “pay by invoice” and then deliver cash/check to the Student Union and Events Services office on the 3rd floor of the Student Union Monday-Friday, 9 AM- 5 PM.
    2. Remaining balance should be paid online via the link provided to participants once they have been offered a spot on a trip.
    3. (Trip costs cover housing, transportation, food and any associated nonprofit partner volunteer fees.)

What options are available for financial assistance?

  • Travel subsidy (in online application) - applicants request an alternate total trip cost that fits their needs (min. $20 total for weekend trips and min. $50 for week-long trips).


You can opt to be placed on a waitlist in case trips are full but we have some folks who need to withdraw and a spot opens up. Participants can be offered a space on a trip starting as soon as 3/4 (spring break) or 4/29 (May trips) or up until one week before the trip. People on the waitlist will be required to join any pre-trip meetings or to schedule one meeting if all other meetings have passed.


Spring Break Trips
  • Applications close February 27.
  • Participants will be notified by the end of the day on Friday 3/1 and need to accept their spot on a trip by Monday, 3/4 at 10 a.m.
  • Waitlist notification from 3/5-3/16 (refunds to waitlisted folks not on a trip will be offered the week following the trip).
May Trips
  • Applications close April 24 by 10 a.m.
  • Participants will be notified by the end of the day on Friday 4/26 and need to accept their spot on a trip by Monday, 4/29 at 10 a.m.
  • Waitlist notification from 4/29-5/15 (refunds to waitlisted folks not on a trip will be offered the week following the trip).

Dates to Know

Spring Break Trip

Application Opens

Monday, January 28, 2019

Deadlines to Apply and Deposit

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Friday, March 1, 2019


Monday, March 4, 2019

Waitlist Notification

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Pre-Trip Meetings (Mandatory)
  • March 7, 2019 and March 14, 2019 (Immigration at the US-Mexico Border, Fire Ecology, and LGBTQIA+ Perspectives); 3-6 p.m., SU 2nd floor
  • March 6, 2019 and March 13, 2019 (Food and Housing Insecurity); 3-6 p.m. SU 316 conference room
Trip Dates

March 17—23, 2019

Java & Justice Reunion Event (Mandatory)

Tuesday, April 4, 2019

May Trips

Application Opens

January 29, 2019

Deadline to Apply and Deposit

April 24, 2019


April 26, 2019


April 29, 2019

Waitlist Notification

April 30, 2019

Pre-Trip Meetings (Mandatory)

May 2 and May 9, 2019 at 4-6:30 p.m., locations 224

Trip Dates

May 19—25, 2019

Java & Justice Reunion Event (Mandatory)
May 29, 2019 at 5–7 p.m.

Wait List

Wait List Placement

Alternative Break applicants can be placed on the wait list by answering “yes” to the wait list question on the trip application. They will be placed on a wait list for all trips. Here is important information about the waitlist:

  • If a spot opens on any trip, all applicants on the wait list will be notified by email. The applicants that respond first, to be determined by the time stamp on their email reply, will be selected to attend the trip. Applicants on the wait list may be notified up to 2 days before the trip departure date.

  • Participants selected from the waitlist must pay the remaining trip cost by the regular payment deadline (by the second pre-trip meeting). If the participant is selected for the trip after the deadline has passed, they must make the payment as soon as possible. Other arrangements may be made with Alternative Break program staff if necessary.
  • Once selected from the waitlist, participants must attend all regularly scheduled pre-trip meetings or all remaining scheduled pre-trip meetings. (If the participant is selected for the trip after the pre-trip meetings have passed, it is their responsibility to contact Alternative Break program staff to set up an alternate meeting.)
    • If an applicant indicates on their application they would like to be placed on the wait list, their initial deposit will not be refunded until after the trip, and only if they do not attend the trip. If they are selected to go on the trip, their deposit will go to their trip balance, and they will be responsible for paying the remaining trip cost on the regular payment deadline. If the participant is added to the trip roster after the payment deadline has passed, they are expected to complete the payment as soon as possible.

Staff/Faculty Site Leaders

Join Alternative Break Trips this year as a staff site leader! This is a unique opportunity to support student site leaders as they lead service and social justice trips across the southwest. Alternative Break Trips (Alt Breaks) are part of the national movement of co-curricular experiences where students take a week to explore service-learning through related volunteer work, presentations from local nonprofits, and nightly reflections.

Staff and faculty are important partners to support the student site leaders and participants, helping manage trip logistics, supporting risk management, and sometimes co-facilitating reflection. Some specific responsibilities as a staff site leader include attending spring Site Leader Trainings, setting up at least one meeting with student site leaders, serving as primary driver on our breaks, and attending the post reunion event. Since staff traveling with an Alt Break are traveling in a working capacity, all trip costs associated with the University trip are covered (except for items purchased during free time or discretionary spending).

Past topics have included immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, animal welfare in Kanab and ecology on Catalina Island. Join us for informal info sessions in the Student Union 316 conference room on:

  • Wednesday (12/13), 9-10 a.m.
  • Tuesday (12/19), 4-5 p.m.
  • Thursday (1/4) 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Applications are due by January 17, 2018.

*To get specific responses to questions, e-mail us at altbreaks@unlv.edu.

Apply to be an Alternative Break Site Leader!

Want to gain transferable skills, have your trip cost covered, be part of a national movement, and make awesome friends and connections at UNLV? Apply to be an Alternative Breaks Site Leader!

Check out additional information by downloading these documents:

If you have any questions, email altbreaks@unlv.edu.

Applications are due by September 30, 2018 by 11:59 p.m.



UNLV Alternative Breaks


Stine Odegard; Asst. Director for Alternative Breaks and Service-Learning