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! Every semester offers unique advantages, and we’re happy to help you decide which is ideal for you.

  • Service and Exploration: for those looking for a group-oriented experience, explore multiple countries within a region and take part in meaningful service projects along the way.
  • Spanish Language Immersion: perfect if you want to become fluent in Spanish, live with families in a home stay, and gain essential backpacking skills.
  • Rustic Internships: for go-getters who want to gain practical, professional skills working with an organization in our partner countries.

Questions & Answers


based on 17 reviews
  • Housing 8.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 17 of 17
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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
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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


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About Rustic Pathways

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...