Our Secret to Crafting Transformational Travel Experiences
All Articles

Our Secret to Crafting Transformational Travel Experiences

There are a lot of ways a Rustic Pathways program adds value to your students’ education. When traveling with Rustic Pathways, you can select from a menu of incredible and welcoming countries, from immersive experiences, community-driven service projects, and the world’s most breathtaking sites. But I’ve seen other travel websites—I know this sounds very similar to what many other companies offer, so I won’t waste time.

Our Secret to Transformational Travel Experiences

Instead, I will let you in on a little secret—the formula for a transformational travel experience, the reason you should travel with Rustic Pathways.

It’s our program leaders.

It seems simple. Find good people, run good trips. But I can promise you, there’s a lot more that goes into it.

Each year, we spend four months interviewing, vetting, and challenging program leader applicants. To be considered for a program leader position, you have to meet our baseline qualifications: experience working with students, international travel, facilitating discussion-based learning, and managing day-to-day logistics. To be hired as a program leader takes so much more.

You can learn more about our exceptional program leaders and their backgrounds here.

How We Choose Our Program Leaders

We hire for passion. Each of our program leaders deeply believes in our mission, vision, and values and is committed to creating a world where travel is an accepted part of every student’s education.

We hire for excellence. Our program leaders maintain excellence under pressure and the ever-changing conditions inherent to travel. They’re as adept at easing a student’s homesickness as they are at working with local partners to organize the day’s service project activities, or corralling students through the world’s busiest airports.

We hire for humanity. An appreciation for diversity in cultures and experiences is at the core of what we do. Our program leaders are eager to learn from one another, to collaborate, and work together as a team. They understand and acknowledge different perspectives, and encourage our students to do the same.

We hire for skill. They speak Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, French, Hindi, Khmer, Lao, Malayalam, Mandarin Chinese, Mongolian, Swahili, Thai, Tibetan, and Vietnamese. They are teachers, coaches, outdoor educators, marine biologists, sociologists, and leaders in international development. They are surfers, dancers, hikers, and sportsmen. They are professional videographers, photographers, and artists.

We hire for adaptability. Travelers know best-laid plans never work. Rustic Pathways program leaders prepare for this, adjusting to whatever comes their way. Even more impressive, they do so within the cultural bounds of their current location – cross-cultural communication is their forte.

We hire for bravery. The bravery to read a situation, assess risk, and exercise prudence. Sometimes that means canceling a planned hike because the weather conditions are unsafe. Other times it means recognizing when a student is in personal danger. These are people who know how to make the right call when they need to, even when it’s a tough decision.

As we prepare for each new travel season, we are always excited to welcome a fresh cohort of exceptional program leaders who are ready to create outstanding learning experiences for our students. Their passion, expertise, and dedication are the foundation of the transformational travel experiences we provide.

To learn more about our program leaders and the tried-and-true process we use to select and train them, visit the following pages:

About the Author

Lauren Anderson

Program Staffing and Training Director

Lauren joined Rustic Pathways in 2008 after graduating from Emory University. She spent her first six years in Costa Rica overseeing our operations and seasonal staff. Lauren then formed our Alumni Association where she developed programs for continuing student involvement. She now uses her extensive skill set to continue to improve the hiring and training of all program leaders across the globe. Lauren lives in Chicago, travels often, and enjoys maintaining her Spanish fluency.