Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.
Experience another side of the Dominican Republic during this intensive service learning spring break program. You’ll leave the resorts and tourist destinations behind as you travel into the heart of the country to the bateyes, underserved communities of predominantly Haitian sugarcane workers. Here you’ll find that though resources are in short supply, there is a generous sense of community. 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.
Arrive at Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) in Santo Domingo where your Rustic Pathways staff will be awaiting you outside the arrivals hall after customs. Once the group has arrived, take a 1-hour bus ride to our volunteer center in the province of San Pedro de Macoris. This is an area surrounded by sugar cane fields, and home to the batey communities we will be working with. In the evening we will have a discussion in order to learn about the service projects we will work on, the organizations we will partner with, the communities we will visit, and the nuances of Dominican culture.
After breakfast, you will head over to one of our partner communities. This is an area surrounded by over 236,000 acres of sugar cane fields, and home to the batey communities with whom you will be working. These communities often lack the most basic of necessities such as running water, electricity, or access to public education. They also contain some of the lowest standards of living in the country. You will learn about our projects in the area and about the batey. Get to know the projects and the needs of the community, and engage with the local kids with some games. After lunch back at the base, you will take a tour of one of the vast cane fields. You will have the opportunity to learn about the sugar cane process from the local workers. Try some fresh sugar cane. After dinner the group will join for a discussion on these batey communities, their history, the issues affecting the area, and how everyone feels after the first day. You will then watch a documentary about the bateyes, which will help put things into context.
For the next two days we will work on our service projects in the bateyes. The day will consist of breakfast with the group at the base house followed by a morning of service projects that will involve work on our on going projects with batey Monte Coca and other projects. We are working to renovate homes in Monte Coca and work will consist of mixing of cement, and other manual construction work. Student may also contribute to other projects such as English classes, agricultural work, educational workshops, and facilitation of activities for the local children. After service we will take part in a few activities that could include a trip to the beach, a visit to a collection of caves, or some time to play with local kids. In the evenings we will lead discussions about the issues affecting the area and the different projects, and watch a documentary that provides excellent context on the bateyes. One evening, we will also welcome a guest speaker from the ASCALA organization, which runs the volunteer center, and works to ensure the rights of the local sugar cane workers. You will have the chance to speak with one of their lawyers, and ask specific questions about the issues affecting the area.
Continue work on the service projects following the same schedule. After four days of service you will really get to see all the progress you’ve made. In the evening, we will have a final discussion, around a bon fire, on what you’ve learned and accomplished during your time here. Get ready to head to the beach tomorrow!
Have an early breakfast, say goodbye to your new friends, and head toward the beach town of Bayahibe. Arrive in time to drop your bags off at the hotel, grab your bathing suit, sunscreen, and head over the dock to board your catamaran. Take a catamaran tour to Isla Saona, stopping along the way to check out different snorkeling spots, and enjoy various beaches. Return in time for dinner, and some time to reflect on your last week.
Spend your last morning at the beach, and then head back to the capital after lunch for a tour of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the first university, cathedral and hospital in the Americas. Take a tour of the walled city and learn about the deep history of the first European settlement in the Americas. After touring the Colonial Zone, head over to a special dinner and dance show at a typical Dominican restaurant.
Have your last Dominican breakfast and say one last goodbye to the Dominican Republic. Catch an early flight home from SDQ.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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Students will depart from Miches for Santo Domingo on Tuesday afternoon. They will spend that night in Santo Domingo at a hotel near the airport. Students transferring to other program in Latin America can catch a flight to Costa Rica or Peru on Tuesday evening. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will join their new trip on Wednesday morning.
Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 30-day tourist visa upon entry into the Dominican Republic, for the cost of $10. STUDENTS MUST HAVE $10 UPON ENTRY TO PAY FOR THE TOURIST CARD.
Yes. All flights between the USA and the Dominican Republic will have a flight leader starting in New York. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as New York. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica and Peru will not be escorted.
The direct flight from New York to Santo Domingo takes approximately 3-4 hours.
During this trip, students will visit the provinces of Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, Hato Mayor, and El Seibo.
Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, and/or Life Guards.
Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.
Rustic Pathways uses purified bottled water on all Dominican Republic Programs. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
None. The Dominican Republic uses the same voltage as US outlets.
This program takes place in a few locations in Santo Domingo and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic. Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day with occasional rain showers, and lows in the 70s and 80s at night.
During their time in the Dominican Republic, students will stay in a few different places. In Santo Domingo, we will stay at a hotel near the airport. In San Pedro de Macoris students stay in a facility used to house volunteers. It has dorm-style rooms with bunk beds, bathrooms, a communal kitchen/dining area that we will use for meals, and a balcony space used for evening activities. In Miches, students will stay in a hotel.
Students will be eating traditional Dominican food prepared by a local chef in San Pedro. Breakfast may include plantains or toast with eggs, fruits and cereal. Lunch and dinner will be typical Dominican dishes, which consists of rice, beans, salad and a meat/seafood dish or veggie dishes.
The bathrooms located at the volunteer facilities are shared with other Rustic Pathways students of the same gender, and have running water and American style toilets. Showers are rustic and hot water is not always available. Bathrooms shared with one or two other students in the hotels do have hot water.
Students will have limited to no access to Internet during the program. We will facilitate at least one call a week to parents.
Students should pack enough clothes and personal items to last through the program. Laundry may be available at some of the hotels, at an extra cost.
There are typically more girls than boys, however the exact numbers vary from week to week.
No flushing toilet paper down the toilet. Students cannot drink tap water.
There is minimal travel on this program. The longest bus ride students will experience is between 2 and 3 hours.
Students travel between sites and locations via small private buses.
While there is an inherent risk in travel, we control that risk very well. All of our programs are run in locations that we feel comfortable traveling to with students. Students will be supervised by our staff from the moment of the arrival in the Dominican Republic Airport. Students are never left alone in any place and the communities we are working with are very responsible.
All staff have at least first aid and CPR certifications, and some are also Wilderness First Responders. We employ local staff that know the areas that we visit well.
We have risk management plans in place for all of our programs, and close relations with local communities. We hire local staff that know the lay of the land, and can spot risky situations. We monitor weather, crime, and government notices, and also have a partnership with HX Global. We keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going in the country.
Parents should consult the CDC website and HX Global for information on Malaria and Dengue, which are both present in the Dominican Republic.
Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the HX Global and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
HX Global is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to HX Global benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.
As a member you will have access to HX Global’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our HX Global webpage.
From our facilities in the bateyes, the nearest clinic is about 20 minutes away, and the nearest hospital about 40 minutes away. In Miches, the nearest clinic is 10 minutes away, and the nearest hospital is about 40 minutes away.
Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning, as this is not a diet commonly encountered in the Dominican Republic. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.
Students should expect to encounter moderate mosquitoes, as the DR can be buggy at times, particularly in the evening and at night. Students should bring repellent with DEET and may wish to wear light long sleeved shirts and pants.
Personal gifts, Internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
The majority of costs associated with the program are included. Students should also have extra allowance money if they wish to buy souvenirs or purchase additional snacks from the local grocery store. US $100 per week is recommended.
Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.
Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. We are partnering with batey communities on the improvement of homes, construction of latrines, improvement of community gardens and facilities, and education projects.
Rain Jacket and work gloves.
This program does not include formal Spanish language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Spanish with people from the communities as well as with our local staff. Local children in the Bateyes are especially eager to help Rustic Pathways students with their conversational Spanish.
A batey (pronounced buh-tay) is a community that is located in the sugar cane fields where migrant sugar cane workers live. Traditionally these migrant workers are Haitians, and many bateyes have become permanent residences for sugar cane workers.
On this program, students will explore themes of immigration, poverty, human rights, and socioeconomic disparities within the country.
In the bateyes, Spanish and Haitian Creole are spoken. Most people speak little, if any English. Students typically do not have a problem with the language barrier, as locals are happy to practice English and teach students Spanish. Our program leaders are also bilingual and help translate for students.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it can be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.
The small town in the province of San Pedro de Macoris, where much of the country’s sugar cane is produced, and home to the communities we work with.
A quiet beach town, where you will relax and enjoy the local culture.