How to be Rustic
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How to be Rustic

Being rustic is being your authentic self, putting cliques and stereotypes aside, trying new foods (and toilets!), and having an absolute blast while doing so. Being rustic is not being afraid to get dirty. It’s laughing until your face hurts. It’s putting down your phone and taking in the most stunning views with a mental picture. It’s giving 200% during service work. It’s recognizing that every culture has something to teach. Being rustic is being you in the best way possible.

Whether you’re a Rustic Rookie or a well-traveled veteran, our How to be Rustic Tips will help you prepare for your upcoming trip.

P.S. Don’t let the out-of-order numbers fool you! There are 9 How to be Rustic Tips. If you’re a Rustic alum and have a great tip we haven’t included, comment below or tweet @rusticpathways using #howtoberustic.

Tip #12: Pack Light

Remember, you’re only going away for a week or two, you don’t need to bring everything! Pack clothes that you can layer, re-wear, and get dirty. You’re traveling to a remote, rural community where and immersing yourself in local life, not jetting off to Paris Fashion Week.

Expert travelers follow one cardinal rule whenever they pack for a new adventure: don’t bring anything you wouldn’t be okay ruining or loosing.

We know how stressful packing can be. That’s why we’ve put together comprehensive packing lists for each and every one of our program. Find them on the Packing List tab of the program  page on our website and commit to only putting those items into your luggage!

If you’re still debating whether or not to bring that extra suitcase filled with 50 pounds of snacks, we hope this graphic will clear things up for you. (P.S.—the answer is NO.)

Tip #47 Dress to Impress

Since we want to be culturally respectful in all the communities we visit and work, we ask that you leave your crop tops, short shorts, cut-off t-shirts, and shirts with questionable writing on them at home. Pack appropriate tops, bottoms, and your closed-toe shoes and come ready to work hard during service.

There is a 250% chance you will get dirty during service, so leave your favorite t-shirts and brand new sneakers behind. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, feel free to call or email your Personal Travel Advisor with specific questions!

Dreading shopping for your trip? Fear not; we’ve got you covered with Rustic Gear. All the essentials for your program in one place. Done and done.

Tip #59 No Short Shorts

In case Tip #47 wasn’t explicit enough. Don’t bring super short shorts on your Rustic trip! They are not culturally appropriate for the locations you are going to visit and your program leaders will make you change.

Tip #93 Water = Life

At Rustic Pathways, cool is measured by how old your Nalgene is and how many stickers you have on it. If you don’t have one yet, pick one up here and start practicing our mantra: water = life.

Drinking lots and lots of water is super important whenever you travel! Your program leaders will remind you to drink water during meals, breaks from service, on bus rides, before you go to bed–pretty much all the time. Staying hydrated is a key component to staying healthy during your trip and ensuring you can enjoy every minute of it!

Note: In locations where tap or running water is not drinkable, Rustic Pathways will always have large, jugs of bottled water from  which you can refill your water bottle.

Tip #15 Be a Globe Squatter

Oh the places you’ll go and the toilets you’ll see! Errr, squat upon.

Toilets are CRAZY different around the world!

The mark of a well-traveled person is not just how many stamps they have in their passport but the range of toilets they have used.

When you gotta go, you gotta go. At the end of the day a toilet is a toilet. Whether it’s “the throne” or “the hole,” don’t be intimidated. Everyone goes, it’s just a question of whether you’re sitting or squatting. Pack some tissues, embrace the new and different things about the country you’re going to visit, and get ready to be a globe trotter squatter!

Tip #31 Make Friends

Generally, most students travel solo on a Rustic Pathways programs. Some students, however, do come with friends or siblings.

The bottom line—no matter whether you travel alone or with a friend, you will make new friends on your program, it’s practically impossible not to. Come with an open mind and a positive attitude and you will be surprised at how quickly strangers turn into close friends.

Tip #43 Put It Away

What’s worse than choosing a bad Instagram filter?

Missing out on all the crazy, cool, incredible moments of your Rustic program because you were face down in your phone.

Your program leaders will remind you to put your phone away during specific activities, not because they want to be controlling, but because they want you to fully experience and appreciate your Rustic adventure. The spectacular sunset over the Himalayas in India s not going to wait while you post on Instagram, and the dolphin in Fiji isn’t going to do a second backflip because you were too busy texting and missed it the first time.

Keep your eyes and mind open and your phone out of sight—we promise there will be unexpected moments you won’t want to miss.

Tip #52 Don’t Save the World

Prepare yourself to make a meaningful contribution this summer, engage with locals, and learn more about the bigger, global issue to which the service project relates. Then, channel your passion for positive change as a Development Ambassador for the Rustic Pathways Foundation when you return home and get involved in other initiates through our Foundation and Alumni Association.

Solving global challenges is complicated. It takes a lot of time and a lot of people. That’s why Rustic Pathways is committed to developing long-term relationships with our communities and local partners—we’ve been working with members of Fiji’s Nasivikoso village for more than 20 years!

Tip #80 Try it, You’ll Like it

Trying new foods is one of the best parts about traveling! So even if it seems weird to eat that or it looks strange, go on and take a few bites. These brave students even ate tarantulas while they were in Cambodia!

About the Author

Scott Ingram

Scott is the Director of Admissions at Rustic Pathways. He has spent the last 15 years in the student travel and experiential education world. Before helping families find the perfect Rustic Pathways program, he led gap year programs that took students around the world and spent three years teaching English in Japan.