Active Safety Alerts

  • Starting on March 24-25th, flights to the United States and United Kingdom that depart from select Middle East and Northern Africa airports will no longer accept large electronics within carry-on luggage (list of airports provided below). Large electronic items include laptops, tablets, Kindles, and other similarly sized devices. Cellular and smart phones will continue to be accepted within carry-on bags. Any non-approved devices must be secured in checked luggage during travel. Necessary medical devices will be allowed to remain in a passenger’s possession after being screened.

    All information received to date suggests the restriction is a preventative measure based on a gradual trend and not indicative of a change in traveler safety. Confirming this, the U.S. & U.K. State Departments, in addition to HX Global, have given no indication that international travel is less safe for travelers nor have there been any changes in travel advisories or warnings. Airports supporting the electronics restriction include:

    • Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) in Amman, Jordan
    • Cairo International Airport (CAI) in Cairo, Egypt
    • Ataturk International Airport (IST) in Istanbul, Turkey
    • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    • King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    • Kuwait International Airport (KWI) in Kuwait City, Kuwait
    • Mohammed V Airport (CMN) in Casablanca, Morocco
    • Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, Qatar
    • Dubai International Airport (DXB) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    • Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

    What can I do if traveling from an affected area to the U.S. or U.K.?

    • Back-up any stored files that are housed on your laptop, tablet, or other device. Consider uploading to an external drive or cloud-based storage location such as Dropbox, iCloud, or other prior to packing the device within your checked bag.
    • Power down your electronic device prior to packing into your luggage.
    • When packing your device in your checked bag, be sure to secure and protect it. Put it in a protective case or use clothing or other materials around it for protection and place in the middle of your belongings. Avoid placing the device against the outside perimeters of your checked bag to avoid accidental damage as your bag is handled by the airlines.
    • Arrive early at the airport. Give yourself extra time to check in for your flight and clear security screening areas since heightened security measures are in place.

    Please contact Rustic Pathways or your airline with questions or concerns to ensure you remain compliant with these regulations.

Our Safety Policies

Philosophy of Risk

Rustic Pathways understands that risk is an inherent part of our programs. We visit remote destinations, expose our groups to unfamiliar surroundings, and encourage personal growth and development through new experiences. We also understand that each traveler is an individual with his or her own distinctive perspective and limitations. Whether trying new foods, summiting a mountain peak, or exploring undeveloped areas, Rustic Pathways believes risk management is a fundamental component for positive transformations. Our passion and commitment to safeguarding our students and staff is driven by strong leadership and executed successfully throughout our ground teams and partners.

Our Approach to Risk Management

Risk management is a process that involves an ongoing commitment to identifying and assessing risks, developing actions to reduce their occurrence or severity, and implementing adjustments as situations change. Rustic Pathways adheres to this lifecycle throughout all aspects of our business and formulates management plans to mitigate risk through prevention and to guide our critical response team when needed. Our operational risk management commitment occurs on three distinctive levels: company-wide, country management, and program operations.

1) Company-Wide

At the company-wide level, Rustic Pathways employs a Safety and Risk Management Director to oversee the development and implementation of the Company Risk Management Plan and the Critical Incident Protocols. This director is also charged with reviewing all Country Risk Management Plans (CRMP’s), Program Risk Management Plans (PRMP’s), and Natural Disaster Plans. Moreover, the Safety and Risk Management Director is responsible for coordinating and conducting activity and accommodation safety audits, reviewing incident reports, ensuring medical and mental health screening meets or exceeds industry standards, and providing Country Directors with the support needed to manage local risk and safety initiatives. This director remains active in the risk management profession to ensure Rustic Pathways maintains its leading role in industry safety and best practices.

2) Country Management

The next layer of risk management occurs at the individual country level and is overseen by each of our full-time Country Directors. Our Country Directors, in conjunction with our country management teams, develop Country Risk Management Plans, Program Risk Management Plans, and Natural Disaster Plans. These plans evaluate potential risks, identify precautionary measures, detail management procedures, and provide contingency or evacuation strategies for each region and program offered. Country Directors are also charged with developing an intelligence network to monitor on-the-ground conditions by utilizing local staff knowledge, international reporting agencies, and the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Country Directors also oversee the hiring and training of local staff based on company-wide requirements for quality and professionalism. These include, but are not limited to, background checks, age requirements, medical certifications, and in-country training workshops specific to risk management and safety. Our Country Directors and Human Resources Department also employ our flight leaders who staff our international group flights originating from the United States to our destination countries.

3) Program Operations

On a third and critical level, risk management occurs on each of our programs through the leadership and professionalism of our program leaders. During training, our program leaders gain a thorough understanding of the Program Risk Management Plans for the trips they will be leading including specific Critical Incident Protocols to guide their actions if an incident was to occur. Staff members are trained to ensure students remain compliant with the Rustic Pathways Student Pledge, which outlines the rules governing student behavior on programs. Staff also conducts in-person medical screenings with all students at the beginning of their program to understand individual needs. If an illness or incident occurs, program leaders submit documented reports, which are reviewed by their Country Director and the Safety and Risk Management Director. In doing so, Rustic Pathways maintains a three-tiered approach allowing effective communication sharing from bottom to top of the organizational chart.

Student and Parent Responsibilities

Our students and parents also have a role in maintaining the safety of our programs. We rely on our students to understand and comply with the rules of our programs and follow their program leaders’ instructions. Our Student Pledge is distributed to all students after their enrollment is accepted and is reviewed again in detail at the beginning of each program. We expect and rely on parents and students to fully and accurately complete our forms before the program — in particular, any medical or mental health information that can influence a student’s enjoyment or that of their fellow travelers. Information from our medical forms is kept private and used to properly screen students to ensure students are placed on an appropriate program.

Dave Dennis, Safety and Risk Management Director

Dave has a master’s degree in risk management and more than 20 years of experience in the adventure and student travel industry. Prior to joining us, he owned a consulting firm that specialized in implementing risk management and emergency response programs for both domestic and global tour operators. He works with our operations team and local country leadership to ensure quality and consistency of all Rustic Pathways’ programs worldwide.