Alternative Break Programs

What about room and board?

Accommodations are basic

Alternative Breaks are simple lifestyle experiences that value practicality. We often stay in religious buildings, community centers, and campgrounds. In other words, bring a sleeping bag and pillow—we generally sleep on the floor. These free or very low-cost accommodations help us maintain our program’s status as a low-cost experience for you.

If you need to request special accommodations, email For example, some students make religious and/or culturally based requests such as to not sleep in the same space as students of the opposite sex.

Showers are sometimes located on site, but may also be at a nearby YMCA.

Food is simple but delicious

To make our $100 per participant fee work, we plan frugal—but tasty—meals.

Trip leaders plan out each meal using a “simple living” budget and go grocery shopping to purchase the necessary ingredients before your trip. Each participant is allotted $6 per day ($1/breakfast, $2/lunch, $3/dinner). So a 12-person trip will budget $12 for breakfast each day, $24 for lunch, and $36 for dinner.

Breakfast usually includes toast, cereal, fruit, and oatmeal. Lunch will include a sandwich and additional items like granola bars, fruit, or chips. Dinners often include pasta, tacos, chili, and other low-cost options. All participants work together to cook each meal, set up, and clean up.

Dietary restrictions should be reported in your application. We will work together to make sure meals are safe and welcoming for all participants.

12trips are offered each year

20+years the Alternative Break Program has been offered

140+students take part each year

Securing a spot on an alternative break trip

Because of the nature of the alternative break trips, we can’t accomodate everyone who would like to come.

Instead, we rely on an application system that lets us match the students best suited to the available service opportunities. We weigh a number of different factors.

Application factors

  • Sincerity—the application includes several open-ended questions. Be as honest and as complete in your answers as possible so that we can match you appropriately
  • Diversity—we work to build teams with participants from different backgrounds (including year at IUPUI, major, and more)
  • Logistics—we give some preference for students who are 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and are willing to drive a seven-person rental van. Each trip requires a minimum of four drivers.

Once all participants have been selected, everyone else will be placed on a wait list. For alternative spring break trips, on average we usually pull around 10–15 participants from the wait list between the time of selection (late November) until the week of the trip (early March).

Apply to be an alternative break assistant and get a scholarship

If you can’t afford the $100 program fee, you can apply to be part of the Alternative Break Assistant (ABA) program. As an ABA, you could get a partial or complete fee waiver.

This program requires a separate application and a willingness to serve six hours prior to the trip to support the experience. You may be asked to research social issues, find places to visit for the “Exploration Day,” or develop ice breakers/team builders for your trip.

On the trip, you will also support the AB Trip Leader(s) by helping to facilitate reflection discussions.

Learn more about the Alternative Break Scholars Program

Explore the Alternative Break Program

Read our policies