Seven of the Best Service Travel Programs
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Seven of the Best Service Travel Programs

Service travel programs give students a chance to really immerse themselves in another culture, interacting with locals and learning about their way of life. It can be an eye-opening experience – one that provides much-needed service but also greater cross-cultural understanding.

To consider your options, here is a list of seven of Rustic’s top service travel programs that work perfectly for students with different interests:

 Come with Nothing: The Rustic Expedition – Thailand

This program is one of the most immersive and extensive service programs Rustic offers. Students travel to remote areas of Thailand with nothing more than a carry-on-size bag. Students stay with villagers and work alongside them on projects ranging from language enrichment to construction and farming.

The program spans 25 days and includes a total of 60 hours of service. It is designed for students who really want to get out of their comfort zones and understand how people in developing regions of the world live. It is a life-changing and unforgettable experience for students, and only two spots remain right now for this program.

Sun, Sand, and International Service – Fiji

This program also offers an extensive 60 hours of volunteer experience, but in this case it spans across 16 days and the students stay in an Eco-Lodge facility. The teens travel to local communities near the lodge to partake in service projects that may include tutoring students in English or working on home-building projects. When they are not working, the students have ample opportunity to enjoy various adventure activities in Fiji, such as snorkeling or surfing.

For students who have less than 16 days to commit, the Intro to Community Service program is similar, but it is a nine day program.

Culture and the Crater – Tanzania

This program gives students a chance to go on safari with an added service benefit. Students work to improve living conditions and infrastructure in rural Tanzania during 50 hours of service work. The teens also spend time in an education exchange project with local students.

When the Rustic students aren’t busy with service, they learn about Tanzania’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribe – the Hadzabe. They also go on a safari to see African animals, such as lions, elephants and rhinos.

Rustic Pathways Community Service in Tanzania

Sacred Valley Service – Peru

This popular program includes 40 hours of service in Peru’s Sacred Valley where students work on sustainable projects including improvements to water infrastructure. When they are not working, the students go white water rafting, mountain biking and hiking and visit the famous Machu Picchu site. Along the way, the students have much time to enjoy the stunning landscape in the region.

Education service


Turtle Conservation – Costa Rica

This is one of Rustic’s most sought-after programs. It is great for animal lovers and those interested in conservation. It is also only a 9-day program with 30 service hours, so it can help newer travelers get their feet wet before trying longer trips. During this program, the students learn about threatened turtle species and do projects to save them from poachers and other threats.

Public Health in the Caribbean – Dominican Republic

This program is perfect for students considering careers in the medical field. Students work alongside health care professionals on public health projects and earn their Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications.

They also work on infrastructure projects to improve sanitation in underserved communities, and learn about healthcare challenges in these regions. The students use what they’ve learned to conduct health workshops for local school children. As the trip winds down, they have time to reflect on one of the island’s beautiful beaches and tour the historic capital of Santo Domingo.

Hawaii Service 

This trip is perfect for students who want to see one of the most scenic states in the U.S., while also learning about environmental conservation. The students spend 30 hours working on projects designed to protect Hawaii’s natural resources. Along the way, they visit Volcanoes National Park, hike through different climate zones, and enjoy both black and white sand beaches.

Aside from these programs, there are several other ones that also allow students to explore service work. For a complete list, please visit our service program page or contact one of our Global Advisors for more information.

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Content Writer

Mary is a Content Writer at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.