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Michelle Michal's Employee Profile

Personal Travel Advisor

Michelle Michal - Personal Travel Advisor for Rustic Pathways

What have your own international travels entailed? 

My first ever international trip was my high school graduation gift to myself of traveling to Mexico with my best friend. Four years later, another graduation gift to myself was a trip to Italy to visit family living there! Fast forward a couple years and I’ve traveled to Costa Rica a couple times, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Ireland, and Tanzania (and thought to myself when I landed ‘oh my gosh, how is this my life?!’). Most recently I’ve traveled to England and France on my honeymoon and I can’t wait to see where I go next! I’m also a huge fan of traveling domestically and hope that 2020 will bring me to some new and exciting places that the US has to offer – there’s so much beauty in our backyard and I hope to explore as much of it as possible!

How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways? 

I was previously working as an event planner and winery manager and was looking for a more impactful career move. Throughout high school I had done summer volunteer trips with a local organization to different cities around the states and saw firsthand how life changing trips like that can be for a high school student. So, when I heard about an opening with Rustic Pathways through a friend, I jumped at it and haven’t looked back in 7 years.

Have you traveled with other RP employees? What was your experience like? Numerous times – and always incredible. My first time was actually by accident when I was planning a trip to Costa Rica to visit some local staff and another co-worker of mine was traveling there at the same time too! So, we spent almost 3 weeks together traveling through Costa Rica with our local staff members and words can’t describe how wonderful it was! I’ve also traveled to some co-worker’s hometown of New Orleans and they housed me and showed me around their beautiful city and helped me fall in love with NOLA. There are many other times I’ve travelled with co-workers, or met up with them, internationally and domestically, and each of those times was just as wonderful and special as the one before it.

Why do you view travel as an essential part of every education? 

Because I saw firsthand with my own experiences in high school that leaving the community you know, even for a short amount of time, will open your eyes to a world full of so many wonderful exciting things. I also struggled with figuring out who I was and what I wanted (as many people do in high school) and taking these trips let me meet so many new people, learn about different ways of helping communities in need, and seeing how just one person can help make a difference to someone. There’s so much to learn, see, and experience, so any chance you get – get out there and explore, near and far.

What is some of your best advice for incoming participants? 

Be open and push yourself. Be open to the unknown, to the uncomfortable moments of meeting new people, being in an unknown area, eating something you’ve never eaten before, doing something you’ve never done before. Just be ready to experience everything that comes with traveling to a new part of the world! Know that so many of your peers are in the same boat as you – nervous about being with new people, a bit scared to be so far from home, but still really excited! Embrace it all and you won’t be sorry.