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SMU Alternative Breaks

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Frequently Asked Questions

How are applicants placed on trips?

  • Domestic Trips: We place applicants on trips  on a first-come first-served basis. Usually our trips fill up within a few minutes of when the application goes live on our website, so we recommend submitting your application as early as possible. 
  • International Trips: Within a few days of applying for an international trip, you'll receive an e-mail from Alternative Breaks with instructions for completing the short-answer phase of the application process. After reviewing your short answers, you'll be notified as to whether you've made it to the interview phase. After interviewing candidates, applicants will be notified as to whether they've been selected to participate.

How many people go on the trips?

  • There are usually 7-8 student participants, 1 staff advisor, and 2 student site leaders per trip.

Do you fly or drive?

  • It depends on the trip. All of our fall break trips drive and about half of our spring and winter break trips drive while the other half flies.

How much does it cost to go on an Alternative Break Trip?

  • Fall Break trip cost is $125.
  • Domestic Winter Break trip cost is $250.
  • International Winter Break trip cost is $400.
  • Domestic Spring Break trip cost is $250.
  • International Spring Break trip cost is $400.

What does the trip fee include?

  • The trip fee includes everything that you’ll need on your trip: food, transportation, housing, and one day to explore the city you’re volunteering in!

Where will I stay on an Alternative Break?

  • When determining housing for our groups, safety is our number one priority.  Common accommodations for groups include—but are not limited to—churches, retreat centers, volunteer houses, and hostels. 

Is financial aid available?

  • Yes, financial aid is available. Once you receive your trip placement email, respond to the e-mail and the recruitment chair will help to arrange financial aid for you.

What is AB's refund policy?

  • Fall Trip: Payment nonrefundable due to the short time frame between placement on trip and trip departure.
  • Winter Driving Trips: Payment will be half refunded up to six weeks before the trip departure date. After that, the payment is nonrefundable.
  • Winter Flying Trips: Payment nonrefundable because of logistics for international travel.
  • Spring Flying Trips: Payment is half refundable until the start date of Winter Break. After that date, Spring Flying Trips are nonrefundable due to logistics of air travel.
  • Spring Driving Trips: Payment is 50% refundable until six weeks before departure date. After that, Spring Driving Trips become nonrefundable.

Once I’m placed on a trip, what should I expect?

  • After you receive your trip placement email, your spot is not confirmed until you’ve submitted all of your participant forms and paid the trip fee. A few weeks prior to your trip, your Site Leaders will contact you about arranging pre-trip meetings where you’ll meet the other participants and site-leaders, discuss the work you’ll be doing, and receive information about trip logistics and what to pack.

What kind of volunteer work will I be doing?

  • You’ll be doing hands-on direct service work within a community. Some of the issues we focus on are community development, disaster recovery, education, hunger, and environmentalism. Check out the Trips page of our website for a full list of the trips we’ll be taking and the social issues we’ll be addressing.

What’s the best way to stay updated with application deadlines, information sessions, and everything else AB?

Who do I contact with any more questions?

Once I return to campus, how can I get more involved with Alternative Breaks the following year?

  • You can apply in March for a position on the Alternative Breaks Leadership Team. The Leadership Team consists of seven Executive Board members and 30-40 Site Leaders.  The selection process involves a written application and an interview.