Student travel with Rustic Pathways will change you. It will open your eyes and your heart. It will teach you to be a responsible traveller, not just a tourist. It will show you what it means to positively impact the communities you visit, and, in turn, the world. You’ll find inspiration, make lifelong friends and learn to see the world from a whole new perspective. Are you ready to make the memories you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life?
Since 1983, Rustic Pathways has been operating intentionally designed, transformative student-travel programs with impact at the core of the experience. Read on to explore all the exciting ways students can travel with us!
Click on any section to scroll directly to it.
Make this summer your best yet! Travel with Rustic over the January school holidays on an unforgettable adventure within Australia or Fiji. We’ve created these programs to fit within Coronavirus travel restrictions, so you can still have an awesome travel experience!
Who: Aussie students age 14-18. You’ll be travelling with other students from around the country.
What: Week-long, open-enrolment programs designed to offer you one-of-a-kind experiences not far from your own backyard. Experience Australia (Or Fiji) like never before! From rafting the Tully river or exploring the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef to lending a hand with native wildlife conservation, these programs are unforgettable!
When: January school holidays 2021. All the Aussie programs have 3 sessions running, so pick the dates that work best for you. You can even sign up for two different Summer Sessions back to back and go straight from one to the next!
Here are our Summer Sessions Programs Available in 2020:
Calling all animal lovers, future veterinarians and ecologists – this is your chance to lend a hand with native wildlife affected by the recent catastrophic bushfires. You’ll also get the ultimate backstage experience at Australia Zoo. Shadow zookeepers and help out with a variety of important tasks.
A sunny surf trip to the Sunshine Coast? Count us in! If you’ve ever dreamed of shredding some waves but haven’t yet learned to surf, your time has come! (Experienced surfers welcome, too!) On this program you’ll have the chance to surf some of the best breaks in SE Queensland. In between catching waves you’ll lend a hand with ongoing service projects that benefit the local communities you’ll be staying in. You’ll also spend a few nights on a local farm where you’ll sleep in swags, learn new skills and work with horses.
Experiencing the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef is something every Aussie should do! On this adventure through Far North Queensland you’ll spend two days snorkelling or diving on the reef. The rest of the time will be filled with exploring the Daintree Rainforest and adrenaline-filled activities like bungee jumping, mountain biking and whitewater rafting.
Are you ready for the ultimate Fijian adventure? White sand beaches, kava ceremonies, friendly locals and more await you on this Summer Session in Fiji! You’ll stay at our famous Eco-Lodge Service Base and help out with ongoing service projects that benefit the local community. Around the community service you’ll go island hopping, visit hot mud pools, go ziplining, and much more!
Spend an adventure-packed week road-tripping along the North Coast of NSW. When we say adventure-packed, we mean it! From sandboarding and 4-wheel-driving through sand dunes Mad-Max-style to swimming with wild dolphins, taking a survival skills course, swimming in waterfalls, riding camels on the beach, surfing, yoga and more! This will be a week you’ll never forget!
Which path will you choose? These programs are designed for slightly older students who are focusing on their next steps after high school. They are an awesome option for Alternative Schoolies, but also open to students just a bit older and younger than year 12’s. Travel with other Aussie students in this same exciting stage of life. Test yourself and push your limits with incredible experiences like a survivor competition on a remote, deserted island off the coast of Australia, rafting down the tallest commercially-raftable waterfall in the world or trekking through the Himalayas.
Who: Australian students age 17-19.
What: 1-2 week programs that will expand your horizons and give you the chance to explore your place in the world. Pathfinders programs incorporate some of the most highly impactful experiences we offer in each location, whether that be Australia, Cambodia, Nepal, Fiji, and New Zealand.
When: December & January School Holidays
New Zealand is a hotspot for adrenaline junkies, and you’re sure to get your fill on this incredible adventure! Zorb, hike, luge, bungee jump or skydive, go caving and raft down the world’s tallest commercially rafted waterfall! You’ll also learn firsthand about the ancient Maori culture and give back through service projects to restore tribal heritage areas. This will be a truly unforgettable adventure!
Imagine waking up to the sound of birds and opening your eyes to see a white sand beach extending down to crystal clear, turquoise water. The week stretching ahead is a blank canvas, and you’ll decide how you want to spend your days. The options are endless, from learning survival skills and snorkelling or kayaking to spearfishing, playing beach volleyball and getting to know all your fellow castaways. Get away from it all and have the time of your life on this remote, uninhabited island in the Great Barrier reef.
Spend the ultimate week living it up in Fiji! You’ll stay at our famous Eco-Lodge Service Base where you will spend time relaxing poolside under swaying palm trees and getting to know our amazing local staff. You’ll spend your days contributing to ongoing community service projects, exploring the iconic islands, zip lining through the rainforest, kayaking, snorkelling, and more!
This expedition will push you to explore your limits as you take a several day trek through the mighty Himalayas. Hiking in this part of the world and experiencing the majesty of these mountains is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Combine that with a whitewater rafting experience and also staying with a host family in a small local village while contributing to service projects. You will get a great feel for the magic and beauty of Nepal on this two week adventure!
Kick back and learn to live like a local in Fiji! The Highlands are a truly special place full of friendly villagers who you will get to know over the course of your stay. This is a side of Fiji that few visitors are lucky enough to see. You’ll lend a hand with some service projects we have ongoing in the region. Around service, visit towering waterfalls and hike remote trails. Before returning home, spend a day island hopping and enjoying the pristine beaches Fiji is famous for.
This service expedition is one of the most unique experiences offered by Rustic Pathways. You’ll live in homestays with families whose homes are permanently floating on Tonle Sap lake. Get an intimate look at this unique way of life. While here, you’ll help to repair and build new floating homes for the community. You’ll also learn about Cambodia’s more recent, horrific history of the genocide by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s. Finally, you’ll have the chance to visit world-famous Angkor Wat.
Rustic Pathways is a Registered Activity Provider (RAP) for the Duke of Edinburgh! We offer an open enrolment Residential Project program created to bring together students from across Australia who are working towards their Gold Award. We also offer Adventurous Journeys that help students complete the requirements for the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
Who: Australian students working toward their Gold Award
What: A 1-week program in SE Queensland. Students will lend a hand with a native wildlife injured in the bush fires and will also run a holiday day camp for children of low-income families in the Glass House Mountains.
When: September 28 - October 3, 2020
The Duke of Ed Residential Project requires participants to live with people who aren’t their usual companions in an unfamiliar environment, and to work towards a common goal. On this open-enrolment program, students come together from across Australia to our base in SE Queensland. There, they collaborate on projects that benefit the local community and wildlife. Help nurse wildlife affected by the bushfires back to health. Run a school holiday program for low income families. Through all of this, you’ll be building lasting friendships with the other participants!
These open enrolment programs are an incredible opportunity to travel with students from all over the world! Running during the USA summer break (June-August), Rustic Trips run in every single country where we operate programs. With dozens of programs tailored to all different interests, there’s a Rustic Trip to suit every traveller!
Who: Students age 14-18 from anywhere in the world
What: 1-3 week, adventure-filled service learning programs all over the world. You can also combine multiple programs to make a longer trip!
When: June through August
Across the mighty desert, over the mountains, and into the sea
A unique two-week adventure in India and Nepal
A two-week adventure uncovering the hidden gems of northern Vietnam
Service and exploration in the lush tropical paradise of Hawaii
The best attractions across four incredible countries
An exploration of Thailand’s rich yet fragile ecosystems and local cultural immersion
An action-packed service adventure on Australia’s east coast
Hike, surf, and camp on this epic California road trip
Rustic Pathways is proud to be one of the foremost gap year providers in the student travel industry! Our adventure travel and community service gap semesters run in Southeast Asia, Latin America or the South Pacific.Choose between an immersive Spanish language experience in Costa Rica, Peru and the Dominican Republic to a semester exploring all of what Laos, Cambodia and Thailand have to offer or an ocean-focused trip through Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
Our Gap Year Semesters will take you off the beaten track. They’ll give you access to experiences you would never have travelling on your own. These programs are for the traveller who wants to be more than just a tourist. Take the time between high school and university to explore the world and discover yourself along the way!
Who: Students age 18-22 from anywhere in the world.
What: Semester-long programs packed full of adventure activities, cultural immersion experiences and opportunities to give back to the communities you visit!
When: September to December, or February to April.
There are so many different ways to travel with us! Have a read through all the information above and/or visit the individual pages for Summer Sessions, Pathfinders, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Programs, Rustic Trips, and Gap Year. Once you’ve decided which of these travel options best suits you, explore the individual programs to find the perfect experience that’s available on dates that work for you. Once you’ve decided, click on the “Enrol Now” button and you’ll be walked through the simple enrolment process!
This is the period between when you enrol and when you head off on your Rustic program. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this time isn’t important. This is when you lay the groundwork for an incredible travel experience! We’ll be with you through this time helping with everything from what to pack to sharing interesting and important information about your destination. Getting the correct visas and immunisations will be your responsibility. Our amazing Personal Travel Advisors will be available throughout this time to support you in any way they can!
Set off on your adventure knowing that you are in safe hands and we will have everything covered. From the time your plane lands at your destination, our incredible program leaders will make sure you have an unforgettable experience!
Rustic Life is our ongoing education program for the Rustic Pathways community in Australia. By travelling with us you are automatically part of this group of incredible change makers! Our vision for Rustic Life is to help students translate the impact of their student travel experiences into their everyday lives. We support them to continue to positively impact lives and communities around the world even after they have returned home!
Travel changes everything. It’s a given that your travels will take you to new places, introduce you to people who live a life very different from your own and will give you unforgettable experiences. What’s hard to grasp until you experience it yourself is that these people, places and experiences will change you.
Students who travel on Rustic Pathways programs change in many ways. We measure the impact of our programs on our students through data collected before and immediately following their travels. From greater intercultural competence and self awareness to a sense of connection through shared humanity, students report that travel has a lasting impact. Travel will help you to be more open to new ideas and experiences and to be more independent. It will instill in you a desire to positively impact the world. It will make it possible for you to see situations from the perspectives of others, and gift you with a sense of wonderment at all the diversity and beauty this world holds. You can read more about how we evaluate student impact and our findings in our Annual Impact Report.
Travel is one of the most impactful steps you can take towards becoming the best version of you! You don’t have to take our word for it, you can hear it directly from some of our students in these blog posts:
How A Rustic Pathways Program Helped A Student Overcome Her Anxiety
How A Gap Year Prepared This Student For More Than Just University
How Travel Changed Everything: An Email From A Rustic Alum
How One Student Used A Travel Experience To Write An Essay That Got Him Into College
7,295 Miles of Gratitude: A Reflection From A Rustic Alum
And here are some studies conducted by third parties that show the impacts of travel on students:
A comprehensive, 2-year study conducted by the Student Youth Travel Association found that student travel has a profoundly positive effect on students’ personal development, as well as on their education and career.
Another study conducted by The Wagner Group that surveyed adults who reported having travelled on an education trip between ages 12-18 showed a significant increase in educational attainment and future success.
Given the current uncertainty with COVID and travel restrictions, we know people are hesitant to book travel right now. You can feel secure planning your travel with Rustic knowing that our travel guarantee is protecting you.To support Australian students, parents and families, our Australian office has made it risk-free to book a 2020/21 Summer Sessions, Duke of Ed or Pathfinders trip (“Program”). Cancel for any reason, any time up to 60 days prior to departure and receive a 100% refund. Within 30 days of departure, if a Participant cannot attend a Program due to current COVID-19 restrictions*, you’ll receive a 100% refund.
Our current COVID-19 cancellation policy for new bookings made after 01 July 2020 is:
*COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting a Participant from attending the Program include:
Further details on our cancellation policy, terms and conditions are provided at the time of booking. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any further information.
My experience on this trip was exciting, joyful, educational, fulfilling and inspiring all in one. From the onset, our small group clicked and that connection contributed to my enjoyment and the feeling of safety and comfort that endured for the length of the trip. We got to experience Cambodia through the lens of both a tourist and local; visiting sites such as the Killing Fields to contribute to our understanding of the country while also going off the beaten track to places such as Prek Toal. The Floating Village was my personal favourite, as we integrated ourselves into the quaint and simple lives of its citizens. Our service project, which involved the completion of a floating house was rewarding and inspired me to continue to seek out ways to provide service for others.
I will always remember how knowledgeable, insightful, and considerate the Rustic staff were and the amazing intimate and authentic experiences we had such as the Koli village, eating at peoples’ homes, and the scavenger hunt. This trip was exceptional, unforgettable, insightful, and rewarding.
Indescribable! Incredible! Once in a lifetime! We had the best Rustic leaders and the best group of students!
I’ll never forget feeling like the home stays in the highlands are actually our Fijian family and feeling so welcomed, loved and appreciated by everyone everywhere we went. My experience was absolutely amazing and it is something that I will remember and hold onto for the rest of my life.
The best week of my life. Words cannot do justice to this experience.
Truly unforgettable. I’m so glad I made myself go. It was definitely eye opening and I have a new appreciation for the life I have. I will never forget the bond we made with our leaders, friends and teachers as well as the connection to Fijian culture. The incredibly beautiful landscape is something I’m glad to have seen and helped protect. Overall the genuinely friendly, grateful and welcoming attitude I received is something I will keep close to me forever. I will definitely be recommending people to see the real side of Fiji… it is something I am so grateful to be able to have experienced.
My experience on the trip has been a life changing one, that I could never forget. My overall perspective on life has changed and I feel like a new person. I am so thankful to be able to have gone on this trip.
No, most students on our programs do not know anyone when they arrive. Some students do choose to travel with one or two friends to share the experience, but most students are coming to meet new people. Our programs provide a safe, welcoming, inclusive environment for students of many different backgrounds.
Don’t worry – you won’t really be on your own. Everyone else on the program will be in the same boat as you and you’ll quickly make friends. After our trips, students tell us that the other “strangers” on their program have become life-long friends. Think of this as an incredible opportunity to meet new people and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience shared with great new friends!
Students generally travel independently to and from their destination. Rustic can book your flights or you can arrange them yourself. Most airlines can assist with arranging an unaccompanied minor service if required. We do not have chaperones on flights within Australia.
Each group has a minimum of two Program Leaders who are experts in running trips for students. Our staff come from all over the world and our leadership teams are carefully designed to ensure students have the best experience possible. Our Program Leaders are highly-trained, certified in wilderness first aid and take safety very seriously.
The program includes all activities listed in the itinerary, accommodation, transport, meals, leaders and safety backup. The price does not include flights to get to/from your destination.
Absolutely. Contact us at email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch.
We’re offering a risk-free booking guarantee on our summer 2020/2021 programs! Cancel for any reason, any time, up to 60 days prior to departure and receive 100% cash back. We understand the current uncertainty on booking travel. If it gets to 60 days prior to departure and we can’t run the trip, you’ll receive 100% of your money back.
Yes! We’ve put together a useful guide to help you out with fundraising. Please contact us for a copy.