Alternative Breaks

About Alternative Breaks

Rutgers University Alternative Breaks (RUAB) programs provide groups of Rutgers University undergraduate students with a life-changing experience: a semester-long experience centered on community service. Participants learn about social justice issues within the United States during five weeks of pre-trip meetings, which is followed by a volunteer winter or spring break excursion.

On site during the break excursion, students provide necessary services and explore the culture and the history of the area. Students who participate in this program cultivate social responsibility, leadership, and life-long learning, thereby fostering a generation of leaders committed to positive social change. This program is sponsored by Student Centers and Activities, Rutgers University Alternative Breaks, and the Division of Student Affairs.

Rutgers University Alternative Breaks aims to provide Rutgers University students with an opportunity to:

  • Learn about and critically examine interlinking issues that affect the lives of the residents of the city/area they are completing service in and the surrounding communities.
  • Work with the different community partners and organizations to complete service.
  • Listen to and understand community needs, recognize community strengths, and work with the community in reciprocal community relationships.
  • Continue a commitment to community service and social change while building new friendships and alliances. 

Learn more about RUAB:

Application Process

To learn more about how you can participate in service trips, visit RUAB's Instagram.

Trips Offered

This year, RUAB will be offering three Alternative Winter Break Trips and three Alternative Spring Break Trips. All trips will be driving trips and the all-inclusive cost will be $350-450.00 per student.

Spring Break Trips include: 

DC Lead – Washington, D.C. 
Trip Issue: Housing and Food Insecurity 
This specialty trip is designed for first-year students. Students will spend time at several different organizations throughout the week. The group will assisting in providing direct services to alleviate the burden of poverty in D.C. including food, clothing, social services, legal representation, and medical care. They will also would work to advocate and organize around other issues like housing and human services. 

Another trip will focus on the creation and sustainability of person-centered opportunities for people with developmental disabilities where they live, learn, work and play. Students will be working directly with special needs children to assist them with the activities offered to them by the institution. We will also assist in setting up the activities for the day and could potentially plan our own. 

For questions, please reach out on our Instagram @rualtbreaks.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of commonly asked questions regarding Rutgers University Alternative Break trips. We’ve done our best to list the most common questions, but if you have a question we haven’t answered below, please feel free to email us at

What is the commitment to be a part of Alternative Breaks?

The commitment for Alternative Breaks consists of four weeks of pre-trip meetings, the trip (all trips are approximately seven days), one post-trip meeting, and one post-trip service project. It is expected that all students will actively participate in fundraising events for the trips as well as their own fundraising. In addition, all students are expected to attend all evening activities while on the trip sponsored by the host site and to remain completely drug and alcohol free the entire time while on the trip.

What are pre-trip meetings?

Pre-trip meetings are very important in the Alternative Break process. These meetings give students the opportunity to get to know each other and bond prior to the trip. Students learn about the history and culture of the area in pre-trip meetings as well as about the social issue they will be dealing with while volunteering.

Who participates in the trips?

Rutgers undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff participate in trips. Each trip has 10 student participants, two student Site Leaders, and one professional staff member who serves as a Staff Partner for the trip. 

We also run several specialty trips, including our first-year leadership alternative break. That trip brings 45 participants, eight Site Leaders, and two Staff Partners to Washington, D.C. during Spring Break. To inquire about our first-year specific trip, email

Do I have to have prior volunteer experience in order to attend a trip?

Although prior volunteer experience is great, it is not necessary.

How much are the trips?

Costs vary depending on the trip. However, trips where the group is flying usually cost approximately $550-600.00. Trips where the group is driving usually cost approximately $375-400.00. International trips cost approximately $850-950.00. Students attending trips are fully expected to participate in all Alternative Break fundraising events and to fundraise individually as well.

Are the sites new every year or do you repeat programs?

Trips are based on a variety of different criteria. New trips are added each year, and we try to offer a diverse set of trips that tackle various social and environmental issues.

Will I miss class by participating in a trip?

Alternative Break trips are not scheduled while regular classes are meeting. However, they may conflict with some winter session classes.

What is a group travel experience?

A group travel experience means that decisions will be made in the best interest of the group as whole. In other words, individuals might not get to see all the sights and/or eat at all the places where they would like to. Group travel requires people to cooperate and compromise with others, however, the experience is very rewarding for all involved.

Can I bring my laptop on my Alternative Breaks trip?

The Alternative Breaks program advises all participants not to bring any valuables with them on their trips, for multiple reasons. One is that there is a risk that valuables will get lost and/or stolen. And second, laptops serve as a distraction and hinder group dynamics.

How many Alternative Break trips can I participate in a year?

Due to the popularity of the program, students may only participate in one Alternative Break trip per year.

Am I guaranteed a spot on at least one trip?

Alternative Breaks receives more applications than spots we have available on trips. Therefore, we cannot guarantee placement on a trip. Students are offered at least one trip, although it may not be a top choice. The more trips that you are willing to participate in, the higher your chances of getting placed on a trip.

I am studying abroad. Can I still apply?

Due to application and interview deadlines, students who are participating in study abroad are unable to apply at this time for an Alternative Break trip.

How can I become a Site Leader?

Students who have attended at least one RUAB trip are eligible to apply to be trip leaders by filling out an RUAB Site Leader Application. Following the application, students are required to schedule an interview with the Alternative Break team. After all interviews are conducted, a selection committee meets to place leaders. Student Site Leaders are usually chosen for their peer leadership abilities and qualities, and not necessarily for their knowledge about a certain location or issue. The RUAB team attempts to match pairs of leaders with complementing leadership qualities (i.e. an introvert with an extrovert, or a details person with a big picture person).

How does payment work and what happens if I have to cancel last-minute?

Once accepted into the program, the student must bring their $150.00 non-refundable deposit that is credited towards the total trip fee to SABO. The deadline to withdraw from an Alternative Break trip is 50 days prior to your trip departure date. If you do not provide written notice to the leadership department of your withdrawal before this deadline, you will be charged any costs incurred to RUAB (including transportation, room and board, site fees, etc.). Any exceptions to these rules are made on a case-by-case basis. Students will be provided with final payment deadlines upon acceptance into the program.

Are the Alternative Break trips safe?

Yes. Every year the safety of each trip is considered. Nevertheless, there are always risks in domestic and international travel.

Who may I contact if I have more specific questions?

For any additional information please contact us at and