International SOS

  • International SOS is a world-leading provider of medical assistance, international healthcare, security services and outsourced customer care. For more than 25 years, they have been helping their clients manage the health and safety risks facing their international travelers, expatriates, and global workforce.

    Everyday millions of people put their trust in International SOS to help them wherever they live or travel. At the core of the service is a comprehensive, members-only website ( and more than 27 assistance centers around the world, staffed by multilingual professionals. With 35 International SOS clinics and a fleet of air ambulances, members are assured of the very best routine or emergency medical assistance wherever they go.

  • International SOS is not an insurance company. However, many insurance companies across the globe use International SOS to provide medical assistance due to their global presence.
    They are a 24-hour medical assistance company having 27 assistance centers in different countries and also 35 clinics. Once a call is received by any of the assistance centers, the call is directed to their in-house doctors who would determine the nature of request and provide assistance in-terms of advice, referrals, arranging appointments, activating ambulances, alerting the emergency staff if required, arranging hotel/ home visits, arranging bed-side nursing and monitoring the medical condition.

    The worldwide network of providers is appropriately credentialed by medical staff prior to any referral. International SOS also has signed agreements with many of these providers and is able to provide guarantee of payments on behalf of our clients. Additionally, they have dedicated air ambulances across the globe to move patients to centers of better care as and when required.

  • Yes, all participants on Rustic Pathways programs must have comprehensive medical insurance coverage.  International SOS, is not a medical insurance provider and does not cover the cost of medical treatment before, during, or after participation on a program.  If necessary, International SOS can guarantee payment to prevent delays in care, but are not responsible for the actual cost of care.

  • International SOS is not a travel insurance company and you may want to consider a travel insurance provider during the duration of your program. While International SOS provides many of the same assistance services as travel insurance providers, they do not cover program costs, airline tickets or other associated costs of canceling one’s program. You may decide the addition of a travel insurance policy makes sense to insure the costs otherwise not covered by your medical insurance company or International SOS.

  • Rustic Pathways believes that participants and their families must be informed about the locations they are traveling to and determine if the experience is appropriate for them. International SOS should be used prior to traveling to help provide important information. Use your International SOS membership number to log into to access important information, such as vaccination requirements, passport and visa requirements, quality of health care, advice on prevalent diseases, personal and driving safety information, hygiene: quality of food and water, culture and customs, currency, weather and what clothes to take, compatibility of electrical items, and personal safety advice. You can also call International SOS with simple medical or travel related questions.

  • Generally speaking, you should not need to contact International SOS during travel. International SOS is part of Rustic Pathways emergency response system. When health or security concerns occur on a program, our staff often contact an International SOS alarm center for assistance in determining appropriate response. Rustic Pathways will also always endeavor to contact parents and involve them in the decision making process. Often parents speak directly with an International SOS physician and Rustic Pathways staff member to ensure fully informed decisions.

    In case of a family emergency, participant’s family members should contact Rustic Pathways via our 24-hour emergency number – not International SOS. This number will be sent to you prior to travel.

  • International SOS assistance centers are 24/7/365 call centers staffed by doctors and nurses, security experts, multi-lingual coordinators, and logistics support personnel. This allows them to respond rapidly to any type of emergency or call for assistance.

  • In case of emergency, International SOS can guarantee and pay up-front costs associated with your medical care to ensure you receive immediate treatment. Rustic Pathways must approve this, and all clients will be responsible for the final cost of any and all medical bills.  At times, International SOS can arrange a guarantee of payment from your company’s insurance provider for medical fees and expenses.

  • No, your membership is already active. Simply carry the card in your wallet at all times while traveling.  Whenever you need assistance, contact one of the phone numbers listed on the back of the card. For those with Smartphones, including Blackberry, Android and iPhone, you can also download the International SOS Assistance App, simply go to or your App store.

  • No, however it is a good idea to always carry your membership card with you since it includes the telephone numbers of the three major worldwide International SOS assistance centers and the  membership number. Their website ( includes necessary contact information, although members can receive service more promptly if they have their membership number handy.

  • International SOS assists you with replacing important travel documents (e.g. passport, credit cards). If you have a change in plans they can advise you on how to extend your visa or get further vaccinations. International SOS can refer you to a lawyer or interpreter, or help replace lost tickets (they do not make routine travel arrangements).

  • International SOS can be accessed at anytime to help coordinate emergency evacuations. If you are in an area where adequate medical facilities are not available, International SOS will obtain approval from Rustic Pathways to evacuate you to a medical facility capable of providing the required care. A physician supervises evacuations, and when necessary, a medical specialist or nurse will accompany you during the evacuation. An air ambulance will be used when required.

  • Under Rustic Pathways’ Emergency Medical Service, International SOS will pay for medically related evacuations and/or repatriation expenses incurred while members are travelling outside their country of residence. International SOS maintains the right to determine if an evacuation is medically necessary and covered under their membership, although when possible, International SOS will inform us prior to initiating an evacuation if the costs are covered. In cases where an evacuation is requested and not covered under their membership, International SOS may assist in arranging and executing services on a fee for service basis. Evacuation costs not covered in our membership include, but are not limited to, evacuations caused by security related issues, natural disaster, high-risk activities, pre-existing conditions, mental health, unlawful acts, or self inflicted injury or illness. Please go to to ensure you understand the exemptions and limitations of this service.

Travel Questions

  • In most cases, chaperoned international flights leave from hub airports within the United States. We require our students to arrive at their hub airport at least four hours before the flight. In the weeks before students leave and just prior to departure, we will send detailed airport information and flight times to parents.

    In some cases, we also arrange the domestic flights to and from our hub airports.  Visit the Travel Information page for the country you are interested in for more information on how our flights work.

  • Yes, Rustic Pathways flight leaders escort our international flights from each gateway airport. We also have staff in these airports to ensure safe travel. On certain routes outside of the United States, students may not be escorted, but they are checked in for their flight by our staff and again met by staff at their arrival airport. Once your child arrives safely, you will receive a safe arrival email from us within 24 hours. After this email, no news is good news!

  • If you are beginning and ending your travels in North America, Rustic Pathways will handle your international ticketing. We purchase blocks of seats to ensure that all students travel on the same chaperoned airplane. For specific countries of travel, we also handle domestic ticketing within the United States for our students.

  • No, international airfare is an additional cost. You can find airfare estimates by visiting our Travel Information pages.

  • After leading trips for over 30 years, we have found this is the safest and most orderly way to operate. We can control ticketing, routing changes, and have a chaperone onboard. There have been times in the past when parents ticketed their children to San Jose, California instead of San José, Costa Rica by mistake, and our group tickets minimize some of these wrinkles.

  • Some of our airlines allow students to earn miles while others unfortunately do not. Your Personal Travel Advisor will be able to provide you with that information upon request. For the airlines that do accept frequent flyer information, please present your information at the check-in counter for your flight. We are unable to add the information to your ticket in advance.

  • Visas depend on both your nationality and the particular country you will be visiting. It is ultimately your responsibility to make sure you meet the entry and exit requirements for each country; however, Rustic Pathways partners with G3 Visas and Passports, a well-known visa service provider, to help make this process easier. We will provide you with more information once you’ve enrolled.

  • Yes! Many Rustic Pathways students choose the exciting option of combining multiple programs during a single trip. While many of our programs are designed to connect easily, others take a bit of coordinating. If it’s possible, we’ll make it happen! Contact us if you have any specific connectivity questions about our programs.

Administrative Questions

  • Rustic Pathways accepts payments by secure electronic check (ACH payment), check, money order, or wire transfer. Specific options depend upon the country in which you bank. Payment details will be included with your Welcome Letter and Invoice or your Personal Travel Advisor can answer any additional questions. For more information, click here.

  • Credit card processors charge a premium for transactions associated with travel services. In an effort to reduce the costs that we pass through to our clients, we are no longer accepting credit cards as payment for program or flight costs.

    This is a decision that we did not make lightly and we understand the inconvenience this may cause you, but the significant cost savings will allow us to minimize program and flight price increases while continuing to invest in top tier program leaders and our community development initiatives.

  • NOTE: As your day of travel approaches, we may require that payments be made on a shorter installment plan. This may be necessary in order for us to make all required travel arrangements (such as flights and accommodations).

    At the time of enrollment, you will have the option of selecting to pay in full or to pay in installments.

    Payments in full: an estimate of your full itinerary cost will be provided to you during the enrollment process. Depending upon your program selection you may be required to pay additional costs for international airfare after your enrollment has been processed. You will be sent a Welcome Letter and Invoice within 2-3 business days of your submission. Any further costs will be reflected on your invoice along with your payment due dates.

    Should you choose to pay in installments, your invoice will be split into two equal installments of 50%. Your first payment is due within 15 days of enrollment. Your second and final payment is due no later than 90 days prior to the departure of your program. All installment plans will be assessed a 3% service charge based upon the total invoiced amount.

    Payment for any applicable enrollment fees, optional Trip Cancellation Waiver elections, and Trip Mate travel insurance enrollments is due at the time of enrollment.

  • If you would like to change to a different program after you have signed up, simply fill out a revision request at Revisions incur a $100 fee up until 30 days before your trip. If you enrolled through one of our discount promotions, please see your specific program rules.

    Refunds for program cancellations are issued on a sliding scale based on how soon the start date is. We recommend you purchase our Optional Cancellation Waiver for maximum refund. The cancellation schedule for your particular trip should be included on your invoice.

    Please read our Cancellation Policy for more information.

  • We are in the process of trying to reduce fees, but please see below for a list of fees that may be incurred.

    • Application Fee: Regular $100; Late Season (after February 28th): $200
    • International SOS Travel Assistance Membership: $69 (click here for more information)
    • Transportation / Special Arrangements Fee: $135 or more each way – On programs where students must arrange their own airfare, if students do not arrive or depart within the designated timeframe, a fee of $135 each way will be assessed.
    • Administration Fee: $100 for revisions when requested after issuance of your original invoice; $150 for revisions when the request is received less than 30 days prior to the departure date.
    • Travel Coordination Fee: $150 when you book your own airfare for Costa Rica or Peru. Please see our policy regarding doing your own airfare.
    • Airline Ticket Change Fees: Vary depending on airline
    • Late Payment Fee: $50
    • Late Form Fee: $50
    • Returned Check Fee: $25
    • Non-USD Check Bank Fee: $10
  • There are two forms that are required for all students traveling on a Rustic Pathways program, and one that is strongly recommended.

    • Our online medical form will need to be completed as soon as possible, so our staff can screen your student to make sure they can be safely accommodated on the program they have chosen. A unique link for your student will be supplied to you in your Welcome Letter.
    • Our Participant Enrollment Agreement (PEA) will need to be signed by at least one parent/guardian and your student.
    • Strongly Recommended: The Consent to Travel Statement can be found here.

    Additionally, certain programs have required forms specifically related to activities offered on that program. A list of programs and the required forms for participation can be found here.

General Questions

  • Our programs are designed for positive and level-headed students with interests in experiential learning and travel. Our programs are not suitable for students with conduct disorders, chemical dependencies, an inability to work constructively in team environments or follow instructions, or an unwillingness to behave in a culturally sensitive manner.

  • Rustic Pathways students come from all over the the world. Approximately 80 percent of our students are American, and we are thrilled to welcome more and more international students each year, with students from more than 60 countries so far!

  • This really varies for each program and session date. If you are curious about a particular program, give us a call and we can help guide you!

  • No, most Rustic Pathways students do not know anyone before they arrive. Some students do choose to travel with a friend, but either way, you will have an incredible Rustic experience.

  • With so many choices, it can be overwhelming to choose a program. However, we’ve put together this helpful video series to help you find the right program for you!

  • All our staff members will have a minimum certification of First Aid and CPR, while many of our programs will include staff members with higher certifications, such as Wilderness First Responder, EMT, Surf Lifeguard, and more depending on the needs of the program.

  • Rustic Pathways Personal Travel Advisors are always available to work with you to meet your needs. Whether you have special dietary needs, hope to combine programs, or just want more details about a program, we are here to talk.

    If you live in the United States, call us at 800.321.4353.

    If you live outside the United States, call us at +1 440.975.9691.

    Or email us at

Questions Before Departure

  • As a leader in our industry, Rustic Pathways takes the health and wellbeing of our students extremely seriously. We have comprehensive risk management and crisis response systems and go to great lengths to educate and train our leaders in first aid. In fact, nearly all of our full-time operations staff are certified as Wilderness First Responders. To compliment these efforts, we are partnered with International SOS, one of the world’s leading providers of medical and travel assistance services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access toInternational SOS services through Rustic Pathways’ membership. Click here for more information on the services provided by International SOS.

  • Be an informed traveler! We are here to help with this but legally cannot provide direct medical advice on vaccinations and inoculations. However, we suggest you visit this page for up to date information. Additionally, we provide you with an included membership to International SOS, our partner for global emergency and medical services, when you participate in our programs. This is a great resource for specific regional information and travel consultation. You should review these websites, consult with your local travel clinic, and discuss your travel plans with your physician prior to travel. Be aware that some immunizations involve a series of inoculations or medications, so don’t put this off for the last minute.

  • Rustic Pathways requires that all students have international medical insurance coverage for the duration of their travels. In the event of injury or illness, we will take care of your student’s well-being; however, the family is responsible for all expenses incurred for  medical treatment and services received. Students should carry their insurance information while traveling on Rustic Pathways programs.

    We partner with Trip Mate to offer our families with an optional Travel Protection Plan (which includes primary medical coverage) for those who choose to purchase it. To learn more about the Plan and to view the Plan Document, visit:

  • Visas depend on both your nationality and the particular country you will be visiting. It is ultimately your responsibility to make sure you meet the entry and exit requirements for each country, but we are here to help.  Rustic Pathways partners with G3 Visas and Passports to make this process as easy as possible.  More information about acquiring visas with the help of G3 will be sent to you upon your enrollment.

  • Once your child arrives safely at his or her destination, you will receive a safe arrival email from us within 24 hours. After this email, no news is good news.

    Generally we suggest, that students try to unplug from technology and connect with their program experience. Programs vary on remoteness, but most provide the opportunity for your child to email or otherwise contact you. We suggest working out these expectations with your child before the trip starts.

  • Each of our programs has a packing list online.

Contact Us

Whether you’re interested in traveling with Rustic Pathways or you are already enrolled, please feel free to get in touch.

Within the U.S. 1.800.321.4353

Outside the U.S. 1.440.975.9691


Financial Aid

Rustic Pathways is committed to making life-changing opportunities available to students worldwide. Click here if you’re interested in learning more about our financial aid options.

You can also download our Fundraising Guide.