• person smiling while showing an animal
  • group of students and mentor in front of a mural
  • group of students outdoors with a tree behind
  • group of students outdoors wearing winter jackets
  • students organizing shoes on a table

Alternative Breaks

The mission of the Alternative Breaks program is to promote community engagement within the UNLV student body through experiential, community-based learning trips that focus on pertinent social justice topics.


The Alternative Breaks team hosts one-day, weekend, and week-long trips on topics such as:

  • Food and housing insecurity
  • Immigration and refugee experiences
  • Mass incarceration
  • Ecology and sustainability
  • Reproductive and sexual rights

Trips include activities such as service projects, speaking panels with community leaders, and tours with local organizations. Through these experiences, students can learn about the impacts of their trip topics, dissect the root causes of those issues, and bring back new knowledge and skills for positive social change within our communities. The overarching goal of the program is to develop community collaborators through education, community engagement, dialogue, and reflection.


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Upcoming Events

Our Values

We aim to plan trips in accordance with our five core values:

To arrange affordable trips that align with our social justice values, we plan our trips with simple accommodations, shared meals, and collective processes. Our trips focus on group learning rather than vacationing.

We seek community through the relationships we build as travel teams and the meaningful interactions we have with our partnering organizations who give us their expertise and knowledge of the trip destination.

We aim to work “with” our community partners and travel communities, rather than doing work “to” or “for” them. Trusting their experience, we listen to their guidance and seek to understand their methods for creating positive social change.

We intentionally focus our community engagement activities towards opportunities that contribute to positive social impacts. We work to understand our histories of structural inequity, and we pursue both short-term and long-term change. This process can be slow and challenging but also rich and empowering.

We view the trip learning experience as one step along the journey for students’ development into active citizens. We encourage continued learning, service, activism, and engagement in the topics after trip teams return.

Trip Information

Our main focus is service and community-based learning. Students should expect their experience to include community engagement and learning activities during the day and structured reflection time every evening.

Students interested in attending an Alternative Break Trip should apply for trips that will work with their personal schedules. Our program offers three types of trips to try to meet different schedule needs:

  • Alt Break Lites: Free, one-day trips within the Las Vegas valley that enable students to sample the Alternative Break Trip experience. Alt Break Lite trips do not include recreational activities for trip participants.
  • Weekend trips: Paid trips that last approximately three days.
  • Week-long trips: Paid trips that typically last five to seven days. Students can expect an approximate balance of 80% experiential learning (Monday-Thursday) with the remaining 20% dedicated to recreation (Friday).

Last year’s trips included:

  • Food sovereignty (Portland, OR)
  • Immigration at the U.S./Mexico border (San Diego, CA)
  • Mass incarceration (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Advancing sexual and reproductive health (San Francisco, CA)
  • Ecology and conservation (Catalina Island, CA)

When you apply for an Alternative Break and make your deposit, you commit to the following:

  • Participating fully in your trip
  • Engaging meaningfully with your peers
  • Displaying an openness to learning
  • Expanding your comfort zone

There are also mandatory time commitments* for student participants. This includes:

  • All pre-trip meetings (usually two or three meetings to meet your trip peers, review the schedule, provide the packing list, and answer any questions)
  • Travel dates (number of days depends on each trip)
  • Reunion event to celebrate, reflect, and share your learning experiences with other students

*The only exception for absence from these events would be a conflicting class during that time that you communicate to your trip leaders prior to occurring.

Trip fees can vary depending on the length of the trip and the trip destination. Weekend trip fees range from $50-150, and week-long trip fees vary from $150-300. Please note that flight-based trips will require both the trip fee above as well as the cost of the participant’s flight.

Included Items

Trip fees cover the following:

  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Volunteer fees
  • Group activities for the week
  • Ground transportation.

Note: We aim to keep fees as low as possible by booking shared lodging accommodations (such as rental homes, retreat spaces, cabins, or hostels), preparing and cooking group meals, and traveling together in either a van or public transportation at all times.

Excluded Items

Trip fees do not cover the following:

  • The cost of flights to and from trip destinations for flight-based trips
  • As-needed purchases (medication for a particular need, replacing a forgotten item from the packing list, etc.)
  • Items you choose to purchase for yourself while on the trip (souvenirs, etc.).

Payment Instructions

Payments are submitted online within the trip application. You will first be charged a deposit of $50 upon time of application. If you are selected for a trip, you will then be responsible for the remaining balance by the established deadline prior to your departure. If you are not selected for a trip, you will receive a refund for the $50 deposit.

Travel Grants

Travel subsidies are available for students who demonstrate need. To apply for a travel subsidy, complete the appropriate section of the trip application that requests this information.

Become A Trip Leader

Our staff team consists of Student Site Leaders and university Staff Learning Partners. If you are interested in helping to plan and lead an Alternative Break Trip, please read more about these roles below and follow the instructions provided for more information.

Want to be part of a national movement, gain transferable skills, have your Alt Break cost covered, and make awesome friends and connections at UNLV? Then consider applying to be an Alternative Break site leader!

To learn more about the role and responsibilities of the position, read our site leader information packet.

In a typical school year site leader applications open in March, interviews are conducted in April, and selection is notified in May. Depending on the application pool we may reopen applications in the summer to get more students involved in the program.

Positions are generally filled by the end of September, but feel free to check us out on social media (@UNLVSLL) or visit our hiring website to see if we have available positions.

The Alternative Break staff learning partner is UNLV staff or faculty member who assists, supports, and empowers the student site leader through the duration of planning and implementation of our experiential, community-based learning trips.

Typical time commitments include:

  • Team training sessions (approximately two or three)
  • One-to-one planning meetings with site leaders
  • Minimal individual curriculum planning time
  • Pre-trip meetings
  • Travel dates
  • Reunion event

The benefits from being a staff learning partner include:

  • One-on-one mentorship experience with a student
  • Participation, travel, and cost of Alt Break experience is free
  • Meet and network with staff and faculty around campus
  • Immerse yourself in a social or environmental issue you are interested
  • Recruit students to your program or college
  • Co-facilitate an immersive student learning experience

Staff learning partners are typically selected during fall semester; however, staff and faculty members may inquire about this role any time during the year. Email altbreaks@unlv.edu to express your interest in this role or if you have any questions for the team.

Meet The Team

Group of students wearing purple shirts, "Alternative Breaks Trip"

Planning and hosting the Alternative Break Trips requires the commitment and collaboration of a group of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to the mission of our organization. Below is a list of our current team members:

  • Jaylyne James, program assistant/site leader
  • Alejandro Rios, program assistant/site leader
  • Nathalia Rios, program assistant/site leader
  • Ivy Love Whaley, program assistant/site leader
  • Leanne Soter, program coordinator/staff learning partner

Contact Us

Email altbreaks@unlv.edu with any questions or concerns. You can also follow us on Instagram or Facebook to get daily updates, engage with the SLL office at different events, and learn what to expect next from Alternative Breaks!


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