Rustic Pathways Gap Year

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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.

  • South Pacific Service and Ocean Skills: Earn three outdoor certifications during this fast-paced, 3-month, guided adventure program in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Spanish Immersion and Service: Improve your Spanish through interactive courses and homestay experiences in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Cuba.
  • Golden Lands and World Heritage: Explore remote villages and sprawling markets in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
  • Rustic Pathways Gap Blocks: Travel for a single month in one of our Gap Block programs in East Africa, Southeast Asia, or the South Pacific.

Questions & Answers


based on 19 reviews
  • Housing 8.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 16 - 19 of 19
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Amazing Program and Amazing Trip

I have nothing but great things to say about the company and locations they work in. The program is well developed with adventure, community service and site seeing. I would recommend this location or any other trip with Rustic, I have done two others besides the Fiji one and was equally impressed. It is a great opportunity to travel in a safe organized environment while also seeing more than the touristy bits of a location.

How can this program be improved?
I would say that sometimes the online itinerary can make you think you will be doing more than you actually will be. Maybe the wording of it should be more "this could happen or you could go here" but not make it seem so guaranteed.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Fiji days were spent hard at work constructing better schools for the children or in total relaxation snorkeling 3 times a day and having local staff scale coconuts for you to drink. A genuine life style with constantly positive people who are rich and full of life and wonder. You will find your nights filled with laughter surrounding a Kava bowl with interested locals whose voices ring in harmony as they sing along to a guitar. The local staff made me already make plans too come back and see them again in life.

New Zealand is filled with adrenaline pumping action whether it be 5 hours spent caving, or jumping off of buildings, planes, and bridges. The food is as fresh as it gets and all organic. The markets were always so fun to explore after you built up a hunger from the action earlier in the day.

Australia is all about the locals showing you their home country with pride. Singing along to Australian folk songs featuring local instruments was one of my favorite things on car rides towards the beach. Getting an Australian perspective, personality, and accent to teach you the Australian way couldn't have been more awesome of an introduction to this great country.

The South Pacific gap semester with Rustic Pathways was unmistakably one of the best trips of my life. Every moment was filled with laughter, adventure, and a shared genuine interest in life and each other by the leaders, local staff, and students. Life long friendships were forged throughout three countries that I will definitely be visiting again in life due to my experience and the unforgettable people along the way.

How can this program be improved?
No program is perfect and I think with this one I occasionally wanted a little more free time and some down days, however , thinking back I wouldn't want to give up one moment to sleep in or pass up on any opportunity.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I participated in two programs in Laos. The first being Mystical Caves and Shamans, the second was Sticky Rice.

This program was incredible. I cannot stress it enough. It opened my eyes to the world around us. We stayed in the base house where we were sleeping on mats under mosquito nets; I still miss my mosquito net... Every morning we would wake up and after breakfast begin work on our service project. During my trip our service project was building a volleyball court for the village. I definitely enjoyed experiencing building something from scratch. As we went to the river to gather rocks and sand so we could make concrete, we were required to push the tractor back up the hill because the road was too slippery. The laughs exchanged were definitely a highlight. After lunch we would do an activity such as teaching kids, visiting a cave, seeing a shaman, going to a waterfall, etc.
I would definitely recommend this trip to all students looking for a unique way to experience Laos in its true beauty. And I will probably do this program again because it was so extremely amazing.

This program is for students who are looking for a more touristy experience in Laos.
We flew into the city Luang Prabang where we stayed for three nights doing things like visiting temples, monks, waterfalls, markets, etc. Then we took a three hour drive to a village called Nong Khiaw where we stayed two nights. There we kayaked, hiked to a waterfall, did service work (painting a school and teaching children), and swam in the river.
This program is not as Rustic as Mystical Caves and Shamans, however still enjoyable.
We stayed in hotels the entire time and had the luxury of western toilets the entire trip.
Though I would not do this program again due to its lack of Rustic-ness, it was still an enjoyable program.

In a nutshell, Laos was the most incredible country I have ever visited. I do plan on returning. The programs I chose have opened my eyes to the world around me. I am so fortunate to have chosen these programs.(:

How can this program be improved?
Mystical Caves and Shamans: Nothing. It really was perfect.

Sticky Rice: More rustic-ness and more service.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rustic Pathways Laos

I did the elephant program in Laos along with the " Wonders and Riches of Southeast Asia". Both of these were very different trips and I liked them for different reasons. I have been back to Laos on various Rustic Pathways trips over the last three years and loved each of them. Rustic has a smaller program in Laos, which allows for smaller groups of students and more focused goals: a key aspect for positive experiences.
The local staff are warm, fun, and knowledgeable. The programs give you a taste of everything. From fun and shopping in Laung Prabang, to riding elephants in the Mekong River, and to riding boats four hours to a far off village. They offer a plethora of experiences for any type of traveler.

How can this program be improved?
Would love to experience more of the rural side of Laos, but this was due to the trips I chose. They offer "Come with Nothing" that will take you to those far off places for the experienced travelers.
Yes, I recommend this program


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Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways to one of many exotic locations.

We take students on unique, rewarding, and safe programs to some of the world's friendliest and fascinating countries. Immerse yourself in a new culture, work on...