An immersive travel experience for your teen doesn’t need to break the bank. Choose from 20 Rustic Pathways programs for less than $2,500 in seven countries that include spring break, summer programs, in addition to programs designed for college students.
Whether your teen is a service buff or adrenaline junkie, future doctor or future conservationist, or just looking to hone their Spanish skills, we have a perfect program for them.
Check out Rustic’s 20 programs for less than $2,500:
Spend a week at our Volcano and Rainforest Service Base outside of La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Get introduced to tico culture and service in rural communities. Participate in a variety of projects, including improving schools, planting trees, and teaching English. Visit natural hot springs, zip line, and go whitewater rafting. Make friends with students from around the world on this popular base house program.
Paddle to the rural community of a local Bribri tribe, close to the border of Panama and only accessible by boat, to start to understand indigenous life in Costa Rica. Work with community members on small-scale development projects. Learn all about their unique culture and lifestyle, and enjoy artisanal chocolate. During your adventure, you’ll also experience the whitewater of the Pacuare River and learn to surf.
Attend four hours of class instruction each day taught by native Spanish speakers before adventuring in and around Turrialba. Live with a local family during a unique homestay experience that will enhance your language immersion and provide an inside look at daily tico life. This program’s balance of daily Spanish classes, conversational opportunities, and exciting activities is the perfect combination of education and adventure.
This program is designed especially for students who are passionate about turtle conservation and want to embrace the authentic and rustic park ranger lifestyle! Live at an actual park ranger station, take cold showers, and work alongside the rangers to protect this incredible species. Take walks along the beach at high tide to track sea turtle behavior. When not working hard, zip line, surf, and enjoy the beautiful beach views and sunsets.
Learn to surf or take your skills to the next level during this one-week, spring break program. Live at our base house and soak in the laid-back culture of beach town life. When you’re not surfing, work directly with local families helping to improve their homes and standard of living. You’ll also have the chance to go whitewater rafting!
Youth Empowerment Project (NEW!)
Partner with Fundación el Futuro es de Todos, an organization dedicated to providing access to sustainable income to youth with mental disabilities through vocational skills development. Work alongside this organization to support build a vocational skills training farm donated by the National Institute of Agrarian Development. After participating in service, explore the lush ecological diversity of Costa Rica with a hike through Juan Castro Blanco National Park and a heart-racing zip line adventure through the rainforest canopy.
Swim in the turquoise water and relax on the white sand beaches of the Dominican coast. Work alongside the welcoming Dominican community on infrastructure and water quality improvements while immersing yourself in island culture. Hike to pristine waterfalls hidden within the country’s mountains. Enjoy the laid-back and welcoming nature of small-town life.
Explore mangroves, reef formations, and marine wildlife at Los Haitises National Park and Samaná peninsula. Get your hands dirty as you work on ecological restoration projects and learn from experts and communities about the efforts to maintain the extensive biodiversity of the region. Swim in hidden caverns to see ancient Taino cave paintings, and soak up the sun on some of the island’s most beautiful beaches.
Spend your spring break helping communities in the Dominican Republic, assisting local volunteers with mangrove restoration, beach cleanups, and other community service initiatives. Learn from experts about efforts to maintain the extensive biodiversity of the region. After service, take a horseback ride to Las Galeras beach, discover ancient Taino paintings in hidden caves, and visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Santo Domingo.
Leave the resorts and tourist destinations behind and travel into the heart of the Dominican Republic to the bateyes, underserved communities of predominantly Haitian sugarcane workers. Work on meaningful service projects designed to institute lasting improvements in these communities. Then travel to Bayahibe to reflect on your time in the bateyes amid the turquoise waters and white sand beaches that have made the country one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
Travel to the heart of the Dominican Republic on this program that will allow you to live in harmony with nature, and experience life as locals live it in this diverse Caribbean island. Spend three days working on service projects, contributing to infrastructure and environmental initiatives. Head back south to the beaches near Juan Dolio and explore the colonial zone of Santo Domingo, where you’ll learn about the rich history of the country.
Work on a variety of community service projects while staying at our beautiful Eco-Lodge Service Base in Fiji. From tutoring at a local school to working on small construction projects, you’ll have the ability to do a range of service work. Get to know Fijian culture through our local staff who will teach you about the country’s history, perform a traditional dance, and show you how to cook delicious local food.
Spring to Fiji is a chance to experience the magic of Fiji in one action-packed week. Get a taste of what Fiji has to offer through a combination of service projects and daily adventures. Zip-line, kayak, and island hop with our happy-go-lucky staff then spend some time helping the community with education and infrastructure-based projects. You’ll enjoy the laid back, relaxed pace of island life with plenty of time to lounge in the sun and share laughs with your fellow Rustic travelers. You’ll wish you had more than a week to enjoy incredible Fiji!
Explore Laos and all the wonders it has to offer! Visit ancient Buddhist caves, hike to the top of a waterfall, and participate in a traditional Lao cooking class. Spend a few days at the Lao Elephant Conservation Center where you’ll learn all about these magnificent creatures including their diets, how to assess their health, and proper communication techniques.
Trade in a typical spring break at the beach for a meaningful service experience in the heart of the Sacred Valley. Contribute to a potable water project in a rural community while immersing yourself into life in the Andes. Round out your Peruvian adventures with an unforgettable trip to Machu Picchu. Camp in a rural community, create bonds with community members, and have an incredible spring break in the Peruvian Andes.
Discover hidden valleys, stunning scenery, and rural villages on the spring break version for college students. Rooted in service, this program partners with local communities on sustainable projects designed to address economic development, public health, and educational needs. Camp in a rural community, create bonds with community members, and have an incredible spring break in the Peruvian Andes.
Delve into the warm culture of rural northeastern Thailand as you participate in eight meaningful service projects designed to benefit students, the elderly, and families in your host village and the surrounding communities. Find your second home at the Ricefields Service Base in Udon Thani, where you’ll learn about Buddhism, cook tasty Thai food, and soak up local culture.
Live with students from Karen hill tribe villages at the Rustic Pathways Children’s Home in northwestern Thailand. Form close bonds with these students as you help them with their English and learn about their lives. Participate in English language enrichment activities at the elementary school down the street where you’ll find the students eager to learn. After service, ride bikes through the rice paddies, try new Thai snacks at the market in town, or just relax and take in this gorgeous setting.
Explore Thailand, from top to bottom on this whirlwind touring expedition. Delve into Buddhism in some of Thailand’s most famous temples, and venture into holy caves and jungles along the way. Enjoy a healing Thai massage, shop in funky local markets, and gain an appreciation for Thailand’s diversity and beauty. Build new lifelong friendships during this week of non-stop action and adventure.
Spend your spring break helping to rebuild a historic American city. Damages from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 can still be seen throughout New Orleans. Work with local organizations to rebuild homes and participate in initiatives to help locals regain their sense of community. After work, explore the French Quarter, try some spicy jambalaya, snack on beignets, and relax and unwind as you listen to live jazz. This program will give you an appreciation for the unique culture of New Orleans and teach you what it takes to rebuild a home.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been updated to reflect new programs for 2019.
If you still haven’t identified the right fit for your teen, request a call from one of our global travel experts who can help you identify the perfect program!
Jack has spent his professional career as a writer and editor. Before joining Rustic, he worked as a journalist in Kansas and Colorado, taught English in Swaziland, and transitioned to marketing roles in the Boston and New York startup worlds. Jack is excited to channel his love of storytelling and his appreciation for education as Rustic’s Content Production Manager. When not working, Jack is either watching baseball or planning his next adventure. Jack and his wife, Blythe, live in Brooklyn.