I mentioned in a post last week detailing my trip to Chengdu, China that I traveled with Rustic Pathways, an organization geared toward providing teens with travel and service programs around the world during the summer season. There are dozens of travel organizations across the country that seek to organize adventure and service-oriented trips for high school aged kids, so I’m sure many of you are wondering why I chose the one that I did. To be entirely honest, I chose Rustic at the time because my friend liked it when she traveled with them, and that was reason enough for me. But simply saying what I just have wouldn’t exactly be a good way to convince others to travel with them, so I’ve compiled a list of why you should like them too.
1. The prices are reasonable. Compare Rustic with any other youth travel program and you’re going to find very similar rates. The prices of their trips include lodging, dining, and most recreational activities, but not airfare. It’s your job to arrange timely flights to the departure airport of choice, which I’ve found usually to be San Francisco, Newark or JFK. This makes it convenient, as you can shop around for the best flight deals to your departure destination. Trips that require flights within the destination country typically include internal airfare in the cost.
2. The reviews are great. In perusing reviews on gooverseas.com, I’ve only come across two that rated the program less than 8 out of 10 stars, and the majority of reviews have boasted a full 10/10 with comments saying they would recommend the trip to others. You really can’t beat reviews from people who have “been there and done that.” Think about it.
3. They offer incentives to come back. Does 50% off your next Rustic Pathways trip sound appeasing? After returning from a trip, the company will email you a month or so later if you’ve been chosen (and almost everyone is) as a star alumni. The title comes with a discount of 50% off your next year’s trip, which is a huge financial help.
4. They work with you. Rustic understands that it’s incredibly expensive to fly to places like Asia, so they work along side you to make sure you get your money’s worth out of your trip. They arrange almost all of the trips to begin and end on aligning days, that way you can connect two or more trips in similar locations. For example, you can book your first trip in Cambodia and make plans to get on a flight to China at the end to meet up with the next trip. I know people that have connected as many as four trips in one summer.
5. They make it memorable. By assigning a photographer to most of the trips, students go home with once in a lifetime memories and photos to accompany them. Over the duration of my own trip, our photographer took a little over 900 pictures- and he sent every one to each of us for free. (Note: not all trips are guaranteed a photographer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to work with your own camera!)
6. They offer a variety of options. If you’re a high schooler looking to travel abroad over the summer to volunteer, there are tons of trips that would meet your needs. But let’s say that you’ve done enough service for now and just want to go on an adventure. No problem. Rustic also offers trips that are geared towards those looking for an adrenaline rush. And that’s not all! The company also organizes shorter spring break trips, college service programs and gap years for those who just can’t seem to get enough traveling done.
So go ahead, do all your research, and make all your plans, but I assure you a trip with Rustic Pathways will be well worth your time and money.