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An Expert Answers the Top Pre-Travel Frequently Asked Questions
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An Expert Answers the Top Pre-Travel Frequently Asked Questions

We wanted to share answers to top questions from Rustic Pathways families. Use these as you prepare for your upcoming program.

If you have a question that isn’t addressed below, review Get Ready for Your Rustic Pathways Trip or get in touch with your Personal Travel Advisor.  Or leave a question in the comments below and we’ll provide the answer.

What is My Rustic Portal and how do I access it?

Your My Rustic Portal contains important information regarding your specific trip, including your trip packing list, information about the country you’re traveling to, and other pre-travel resources. You can also find your Personal Travel Advisor’s (PTA) contact info in your Portal.

The link to your portal can be found in your Welcome Letter. Once you click that link, you’ll need the traveler’s birth date and pin number (also found in your Welcome Letter). If you can’t find your Welcome Letter, give us a call and we can have your Personal Travel Advisor resend it.

What about vaccinations and OTC meds?

Students are welcome to bring over the counter medications, but we ask that you include this in your medical forms, so our staff is aware. Required vaccination information will be sent from your Personal Travel Advisor. For more info, check out our travel vaccinations page, which includes links to CDC recommendations for each Rustic Pathways travel destination. You can also talk to your doctor or visit a travel medical clinic.

What about shorts, leggings, pants, and swimsuits?

As many of our programs take place in small villages and more conservative areas, we want to be respectful of those communities by wearing appropriate clothing. Basketball or hiking shorts are typically an acceptable length. Running shorts and leggings are not appropriate in many of these areas, so if in doubt, bring an extra set of capris instead. Some of our programs include time in or near the ocean, during which students are welcome to wear swimsuits of their choice.

Check out this guide to packing culturally-appropriate and comfortable clothing. Also, review these packing tips from Rustic staff and Rustic alumni.

What about phones? Phones as cameras? Can phones be charged on programs?

Students find having a cellphone helpful during travel days, especially if they need to call or text the airport coordinator to find the group when they arrive in one of our hub airports. However, once students arrive in country we want to encourage them to be as “disconnected” as possible so they’re able to fully immerse themselves in the experience and be present. There will be specific times when Program Leaders will ask students not to use their phones (during service activities, group discussions, and meals). You can read more about our cell phone policy for students and parents.

You can certainly use a phone as a camera, but often we find students tempted to post to Snapchat, Instagram, etc. A different type of camera can help with this temptation. Because there are times when phones will not be allowed, we recommend bringing along another camera if you are interested in capturing those moments.

Students can charge phones (and other electronics) during most program, but please note that if your program is more remote, access to electricity may be limited. Also, make sure to research whether your destination country requires an adapter for your electronics.

What about accommodations and activities on programs?

This is a common question with a varied answer. Our programs include a variety of accommodations including homestays, guesthouses, hotels, camping, etc. We recommend reading through the itinerary and FAQs on your program page to get a better idea about where you will be staying throughout the itinerary.

When will my t-shirt arrive? What happens if it’s the wrong size?

Your t-shirt will arrive in your pre-departure package at least one week before your departure date. If you’ve received the wrong size, contact your Personal Travel Advisor and they can provide instructions to return the shirt and we’ll send you the correct size.

What about spending money? How much should I bring and in what currency? Credit card, debit card, cash?

You can find out how much spending money to bring in the FAQs on your program page. Every program will provide students with ample opportunity to convert USD into local currency. Depending on the program, credit cards and debit cards may be useful as a backup, but in some countries, ATMs are unreliable so we recommend always bringing some cash with you.

How big of a bag can you bring?  How many bags?

As a rule, we suggest packing light! Once you’re fully packed, take a critical look at everything you’ve included and try to remove the items you don’t really need. We recommend a backpack or duffel with shoulder straps—bags with wheels may be useful in an airport but are less useful on dirt, gravel or cobbled walkways. You’ll need to carry your own bags, so one checked bag and one small carry on is usually perfect. One of our favorites is a Patagonia 60L duffel bag, which you can find at our Rustic Gear site, along with many other useful travel accessories.

Interested in traveling next year? Request a copy of our free spring break and summer programs catalog today!

About the Author

Scott Ingram