Mulit-Country Rustic Pathways Gap Year

Video and Photos

About

A gap year is not a one-kind-fits-all experience. That's why Rustic Pathways offers 3-month gap semesters and 1-month block programs ranging from group adventures to language study through homestay experiences.

You can choose where you want to travel and what you want to get out of it! Our gap year programs inspire growth, encourage openness, and help you develop global perspectives before taking the next step, wherever your path may lead.

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.45 Rating
based on 20 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 20
Default avatar
Zoe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cuba Summer Program: "Viva Cuba: Culture and Conservation"

In the summer of 2019, I went to the Dominican Republic on the “Life in the Bateyes” trip. Learning about Dominican and Haitian relations and how the sugar we buy is actually processed was truly eye opening. We visited and worked at a batey called Monte Coca. There we were welcomed with open arms by the whole community. We also learned about the lives of Haitian sugar cane workers. Working almost 15 hours a day, they get paid less than three dollars without healthcare and proper work attire, most of them being undocumented. Even faced with this difficulty, they were willing to talk to us and teach us how to cut sugar cane. Hearing everyone’s story was truly eye-opening and inspiring. This trip has taught me a lot about foreign relations and a different way of life.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
When we went to dinner in Trinidad, there was an option on the menu for canchánchara. Unfamiliar to this drink, I decided to get it and try something new. Now it is one of my favorite drinks that I want to try to recreate, without alcohol of course.
Default avatar
Naima
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic Pathways Gap Year Southeast Asia

Travelling with Rustic Pathways was easily the best experience of my life. I felt the happiest I have ever been and I saw best version of myself come to life! I experienced first hand how much I gain from helping others and the importance of doing good in the world, wherever that may be.

Leading up to the trip of course I was nervous but that was nothing in comparison to the excitement I was feeling! I had spoken to many Rustic staff prior to leaving and their enthusiasm and passion they had made me feel just as excited!

On my trip I travelled through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, all of which were incredible and eye opening in different ways! We learned about each countries history, values and beliefs, which allowed us to form a genuine appreciation for where we were. In Myanmar, we hiked through the beautiful Kalaw State and went to regions only a few thousand people have been! In Thailand we explored breathtaking beaches, became certified mahouts (elephant caretaker) and learned the principals of Buddhism. We zip lined through the jungles of Laos, and gave food to Monks during morning alms. I got to take a tuk-tuk through Angkor Wat and danced in the Mekong River with two little girls I met in a village during a service project. I was so lucky to see it all thanks to Rustic who made everything possible! From sleeping arrangements to transportation, we never had to worry about where we were going or how we were getting there, which ensured everything went smoothly.

Rustic Pathways finds the perfect balance between must see tourist attractions, and off the beaten path destinations not many people get to see. From the Grand Palace and busy tourist markets to remote temples and local food stands, you see it all thanks to the amazing staff! Local staff help you work through language barriers while providing insight and a different perspective that makes the trip truly incomparable! Additionally, your program leaders are expert and enthusiastic travellers and are extremely knowledgeable about the region you are in. From the history, to the food, to the appropriate clothing attire they got you covered! Trip leaders act as role models and offer unconditional support and always make you feel safe.

My favorite memory of the trip was when I was in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. We were staying in a local village painting a newly built school (done by previous Rustic groups!). It was during the Khmer New Year where people across the region celebrate with water fights that lasts three days!
One the second day of the celebration, a few friends and I were leaving the school to walk back to our host family's home when we saw a little girl wave for us to come over! We went to say hello and were greeted by 8 other kids from the village. They had set up a tub of water and handed us buckets and asked us to play with them! We ended up having a water fight for 45 minutes, all of which were spent laughing with our newfound friends! I especially remember when I put down my backpack that I had brought with me that day. I put in on the ground near the entrance to the yard when an elderly woman motioned for me to bring it to her so she could watch it for me and make sure it didn't get wet. I left that day feeling on top of the world. It felt so authentic and genuine and a memory that I will always hold close to my heart.

Something about these types of trips tend to bring out the best in people and you should know that Rustic friends are for life and the bonds you make will last forever! You will do things you never thought you would, but feel safe while doing it! And you will learn to find comfort in leaving your comfort zone! Within 2 months of my trip ending, my group had all already found a way to meet up with each other in Montreal, Canada! Regardless of where you choose to go, you will come home with a whole new perspective on life. You learn to look at life through a more positive lens and appreciate all that you have, and all you are capable of doing!

I cannot recommend Rustic Pathways enough! Happy travelling :)

Default avatar
Alexandra
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Southeast Asia Gap Year Semester

I had a great time on this three month trip to Southeast Asia! We visited Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The trip was great because we experienced a wide variety of activities, from service work in small rural villages to zip-lining through the rainforest. It was my first extended trip outside of the US and it was nice to be lead by confident leaders and local staff. By the end I was ready for more independent travel, but I think the trip prepared me well for my future endeavors.

Default avatar
Jenny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gap Review

The greatest decision of my life! Rustic trips are so unique in their content and character. We did things in the South Pacific that few people get to do. We stayed in an authentic Fijian village, skydived, learned how to save lives on an Australian beach, road tripped around New Zealand and had countless adventures along the way. This program is expensive, but for what you get it's actually rather cheap! If you tried to do everything we did on your own it would cost much more than doing it with Rustic group discounts and loyalty discounts. The Rustic experience wasn't like any other group trips I've done, it felt like a family. We all supported each other and genuinely cared about each other. We had conversations about life and traveling and school and adventure and we all grew as people. I've changed as a person from my experience in ways that I hadn't expected. I'm excited to go to college this year and have a new outlook on life that I've gained from this experience and to have more perspective on the world and its people than my classmates. Taking a gap year is a choice I will never regret and I highly recommend it to anyone who is unsure about the future after high school. There are so many options out there for post high school education, don't overlook the ones that take place in a Fijian village or on an Australian beach. Those classrooms are by far the most effective!

What would you improve about this program?
One month in each country would be nice!
Default avatar
Camila
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing experience

Before going on my gap semester I was a little nervous of getting out of my comfort zone, especially when it came to Southeast Asia! Looking back, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. With Rustic I visited places that I would not be able to point out on a map. Doing service in the villages was incredible, living like the locals made me aware of many people's reality. We are so used to our comfortable lives we sometimes forget those around us. When working in the villages, we were able to make connections with the locals. I remember in one village our homestay father called Su would greet us by name every morning. He would also come during dinner with his English-Thai dictionary, eager to learn. Overall, Southeast Asia is a great destination. The people, FOOD, places, and culture are like nothing you have ever experience, and Rustic Pathways really helps you make the most of it.

Default avatar
Katharine
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic Pathways South Pacific Gap Year

I went on this trip with a lot of expectation which I think is natural. Although I do would not say that my expectations were necessarily exceeded, I did learn more about myself and the world than I ever have before in my life. My experience in Fiji was one of my first real exposures to poverty. This seriously impacted the way I see my life at home and how the lifestyle I was living before may not have been beneficial to other people. My time in Fiji living in the villages and working with families was incredibly humbling and absolutely provided me with perpspective that I wouldn't have orherwise. New Zealand changed my life in an entirely different way. I realized the kind of lifestyle I want to pursue and fell in love with the country and its jaw dropping scenery. Australia brought new adventures and a whole new set of skills. From ocean lifesaving to surfing to sailing, I left feeling more competent and proud of the achievements I had made. The absolute best part of this trip was the leaders. At first I resented the fact that I had any sort of supervision but this was quickly replaced by gratefulness for their kindness, humor and insight on so many issues. I constantly felt safe and at ease because of these leaders but they always challenged me to try harder and push myself out of my comfort zone. After I came home from this trip, I had the courage to travel solo to Nepal for three months. I absolutely would not have been able to do this with out all I learned on my rustic trip.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be nice if it were a bit cheaper!
Default avatar
Nozomi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing experience

I joined the Rustic Pathways because i had some extra months of freedom before entering a Japanese university after graduating a high school in the states. I have always loved learning about new cultures and exchanging my thoughts with people who had different perspectives and backgrounds, so when I heard about the program from my friend who went to Fiji the year before, I knew this was kind of thing I wanted.

The month I spent in Fiji literally changed my life for sure, through so many interactions with the locals, program participants and staffs.
I think the program was supportive and at the same time gave us some freedom and chances to explore in the environment more than I expected. There were some specific rules that we had to follow for our safety which was needed, but I loved how it really depended on us of how deeply connected we get with the locals, especially during the week of the home stay. The relation I built up during the program is something i would like to cherish forever. I am still connected with the members of the rustic on fb and one of them even traveled all the way Japan to see me! I now have so many travel buddies who would help me find more adventures in our lives.

The rustic pathways led me experience so many things I couldn't have experienced by myself and through all the things I experienced, I learned to be always fearless. Now I think that being scared or nervous of something is just a waste of time, just give it a try, give it your best of what you can do, and see if it works! I won't even be able to fail without trying.

Default avatar
Lathram
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Bula, Kia'Ora, G'Day

The three months I spent with Rustic Pathways in the South Pacific were the most memorable three months of my life thus far. I learned more about myself and the world that we live in more so than I would have ever been able to learn in a classroom at college this year.
Taking a gap year was an amazing decision for me and I would encourage everyone to think about it. I already knew how amazing Rustic was through an earlier trip to Ghana.

We started out in Fiji and for me, that was my favorite experience in all the countries we visited. The Fijian culture has so much to offer to anyone who enters their country. Their idea of community is completely different than ours and they welcome you with open arms. My favorite part of Fiji was definitely travelling to Nasivikoso in the Highlands.

Next we went to New Zealand and there I learned to push myself farther than I ever had. We did a lot of physical activities in NZ that I had never done before and that alone was a challenge. My favorite moment in NZ was when we hiked to the top of Mt. Roy.

In Australia it was all about skills. I learned how to tie knots, to sail, to save a person's life in the middle of the ocean, to surf and so much more. Australia was a different experience than the two previous countries but still just as rewarding.

I have pictures up at lathramb.vsco.com if you want to see my experiences and I would encourage anyone to work with Rustic and consider this gap semester!