How Rustic Taught Me to Find the Joy in the Simple Moments of Life

How Rustic Taught Me to Find the Joy in the Simple Moments of Life

Linnea Martin

Peru | Spring to the Sacred Valley 2017

Fiji | Intro to Community Service 2017

Linnea is a current junior at the University of Colorado Boulder studying International Affairs and Education.

All photos have been provided by Linnea. Read her story below!


In April of 2017, I was fortunate enough to attend the Sacred Valley Service trip in Peru. In July of that same year, I embarked on my second trip with Rustic: Intro to Community Service in Fiji.

It was during both of these experiences traveling with Rustic that I first felt the enchanting, inspiring, and outright joyous feelings of unity and togetherness; specifically among the group of students and leaders that I was fortunate enough to be traveling with, but also when it came to the specific communities I had the privilege of visiting and the people that I met along the way.

Feeling like you belong and being among people that appreciate and embrace your authentic self is often a difficult thing to come by in the sometimes awkward and uncertain period of life that is your teenage years. My experiences with Rustic Pathways gifted me with the space to feel like myself, learn new things about the world outside my comfortable bubble, and make lasting connections along the way with places and people that continue to have an impact on me to this day.

I can honestly say that I consider my experiences with Rustic Pathways to be defining moments of my adolescent experience, that went on to ultimately help me discover what it is that I am truly passionate about. The true value of the opportunity to be led, quite literally around the world, by such knowledgeable, respectful, and interesting Rustic program leaders and immerse myself within a foreign environment with other individuals from all over the world is something that is difficult to put into words; but, for the sake of this reflection, I’ll try my best.

The amazing thing about Rustic trips is that they push you out of your comfort zone in a way in which I had never experienced before. On each trip, there is often limited or no access to Wi-Fi, an entirely new group of people to get to know, and a brand-new environment to get accustomed to. From my own personal experience, when the usual crutch of a phone, Internet, or the safety of familiar surroundings is taken away, the real magic starts to happen! The real growth. And also, the real fun.

Traveling with Rustic allows you to rediscover a sort of child-like joy and relish in the simple moments of life, without even realizing the authentic and compelling growth that is taking place within you along the way. During both of my trips, I truly felt as though everyone was just happy to be around each other and genuinely grateful to not only experience such a culturally rich and immersive adventure, but also to have the opportunity to give back to the communities that we were visiting in whatever way we could.

It has been almost four years since I have traveled with Rustic Pathways, and after all this time, I think it’s the little moments that have stuck with me the most. Singing songs while sitting around a fire pit under the stars in the Sacred Valley of Peru, waking up at 6am to watch the sunrise at the Eco-lodge in Fiji, sharing favorite moments from the trip while sitting in an empty pool on the rooftop of our hotel in Peru, and countless more are memories of simple joys that I will forever hold close to my heart.

Each moment of each outing, service project, and activity was meaningful and significant in its own unique way. The worldly knowledge and welcoming nature of both the Rustic leaders and individuals within the communities we visited was unmatched, and something that I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to be in the presence of and learn from.

Traveling abroad with Rustic taught me at a young age the importance of cross-cultural respect and the timeless value of making an effort to build relationships with those that are different from us.

As a result of traveling to both Fiji and Peru with Rustic Pathways, I learned both the importance of being a culturally, environmentally, and socially responsible traveler. The examples set by each individual involved with Rustic went on to set a real foundation for how I view and approach traveling to this day.

My time with Rustic helped to both inspire and reveal a curiosity and passion for travel, cross-cultural immersion, community development, and environmental sustainability that I did not know I had. The time that I was lucky enough to spend in Fiji and Peru equipped me with the confidence and zealous curiosity to go on to pursue a degree in International Affairs and Education at the University of Colorado Boulder.

When I decided to venture across the country to attend college, I was definitely apprehensive. One might even say that I was scared. But hey, I figured that if I could successfully hold the attention of and teach a lesson to a class of a dozen kindergarteners in Fiji, climb the 1,600 steps up to Machu Picchu, or form meaningful and lasting friendships over the course of a week with people that were previously complete strangers to me; I could probably figure out college.

The lessons that I learned from the extraordinary travel experiences I had with Rustic truly did help equip me with the confidence and knowledge that I do, in fact, have the ability to handle any obstacle that life throws my way. For helping me gain that confidence and countless other lessons and skills, I am forever grateful for Rustic Pathways.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in Peru and Fiji, or view more Alumni Stories here