Student Travel Programs in the Americas

Student Travel Programs in the Americas

Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala and the United States

We’ve operated for years and even decades in many of the countries where we offer student travel programs. And in each of those countries, our dedicated full-time staff ensure students have safe and enriching experiences with Rustic Pathways.

What Are the Most Popular Teen Travel Destinations in the Americas 

Countries like Costa Rica and Peru are near the top of the list for teen travel. Both nations are renowned for their biodiversity. That makes them perfect spots for teens interested in environmental sustainability and animal conservation. Plus, the landscapes provide the ideal setting for adventure activities.

You can zipline, white water raft and climb cliffs in areas teeming with wildlife. The views alone during these activities make them worthwhile. But you’ll also get your adrenaline pumping as you traverse the stunning natural landscapes.

There also many man-made wonders in the Americas as well. If you like history, destinations like Peru and Guatemala have many historical artifacts. You can visit Inca or Mayan ruins in these nations.

U.S. students who like to stick closer to home often opt for adventures in Hawaii or Alaska. These states offer a mixture of nature, adventure and local culture.

These aren’t the only options. Overall, the Americas includes 35 nations with a diversity of languages and cultures.

English and Spanish are the most common official languages across the two continents. But Portuguese is spoken in Brazil, Dutch in Aruba and Suriname, and French in Haiti, Canada and French Guiana. Plus, Creole is also an official language in Haiti and there are several indigenous tongues that are national languages, such as Quechua in Peru and Bolivia.

Rustic Pathways students check out the views at a glacial lake in Peru.

Rustic Pathways students check out the views at a glacial lake in Peru.

Costa Rica, Peru, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala and the United States

The Camaronal Wildlife Rescue in Costa Rica, Machu Picchu in Peru, Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii  – There are so many things to see in the Americas.

Rustic Pathways currently has programs in Costa Rica, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii and Alaska. Our summer travel programs to Ecuador will return soon. Likewise, we have a program in Guatemala designed for students who participate in the Climate Leaders Fellowship. And we have a program in Puerto Rico for school groups.

Featured Programs in Costa Rica
Perfect start to service adventures
Age 14-18
$2,495 plus Airfare
Perfect intro for young adventurers
Age 12-13
$3,295 plus Airfare
Hands-on work to save sea turtles...
Age 14-17
$2,895 plus Airfare
Catch waves and make an impact
Age 14-18
$3,495 plus Airfare
Featured Programs in the United States
Island splendor and eco-service
Age 14-18
Tropical service & exploration
Age 14-18
Epic wilderness, glaciers & wildlife
Age 14-18
Featured Programs in the Dominican Republic
Tropical island eco-conservation
Age 15-18
$5,595 plus Airfare
Tropical vibes and fun work
Age 13-16
$2,595 plus Airfare
Featured Programs in Peru
Service and immersion in the Andes
Age 14-18
$4,195 plus Airfare
Adventure from peaks to jungle
Age 14-18
$5,895 plus Airfare

What to Expect While Traveling in the Americas

Geography – Biodiverse Lands

The continents of North and South America cover nearly 30% of the world’s land area. The far north region stretches halfway around the world from Greenland to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Overall, Canada is the largest country in the Americas, followed by the United States and Brazil. The smallest nation is the island country of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

São Paulo is the most populated city with about 12 million people. That number only includes residents within the city limits. New York and Mexico City have millions of more living in the wider metropolitan areas. Overall, about two thirds of the population in the Americas live in the United States, Brazil, and Mexico.

North America is divided into five areas by topography:

  • West Region- This part of the continent has parallel mountain ranges called Cordilleras. This includes the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre. It also has notable desert regions.
  • Great Plains – This area has been called a breadbasket because of its fertile soil.
  • Canadian Shield – This region has rocky flat plateaus and tundra areas where low temperatures create permafrost.
  • Eastern Region – Some of North America’s older mountain ranges are in the east, including the Appalachians. The east also has coastal plain areas with wetlands.
  • Caribbean – This region in the Caribbean Sea includes thousands of islands and cays. It’s known for its coral reefs.
A Rustic Pathways student does reef restoration work in the Dominican Republic.

A Rustic Pathways student does reef restoration work in the Dominican Republic. Credit: Rustic Pathways

South America is divided into three regions by topography:

  • Mountains & Highlands – This area includes the world’s largest mountain range – the Andes. It also includes highlands areas with low mountains and plateaus.
  • River Basins – The Amazon rainforest is in this region. It also includes areas along the Orinoco and Paraná Rivers.
  • Coastal Plains – These regions along the coast are very dry.

Hot Landmarks – The Most Famous Locations

The Americas are dotted with many well-known destinations. On the environmental front, this includes the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Amazon rainforest in South America, Denali National Park in Alaska, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

On the manmade front, many people travel to the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru, the Mayan ruins at Tikal in Guatemala, and the National Monument and Mall in Washington D.C.

Machu Picchu - Victoria Tadewald

Rustic Pathways students enjoy a visit to Machu Picchu in Peru.

And there is so much more. There are 70 World Heritage sites in South America and 97 in North America. You could spend years traveling the two continents and still find new hidden treasures.

Climate – Extreme Differences

The climate varies dramatically across the two continents. In the north there’s arctic tundra, while Central and South America have tropical rainforests. The abandoned village of Snag in Yukon, Canada is considered the coldest place on Earth. It’s lowest recorded temperature was -62.7 degrees Celsius or -80.6 degrees Fahrenheit. People who once lived there said it was so cold your breath would freeze in the air as ice crystals and fall to the ground.

Sound also carries farther in the cold temperatures. Former residents said they could eavesdrop on conversations if they wanted since sounds would carry for miles.

On the flip side, the Americas also have a place with the highest recorded air temperature. In 1913 Death Valley in California reached 56.7°C  or 134.1°F.

There are a couple of places that beat Death Valley for the highest recorded surface temperature. They are the Lut Desert in Iran and the Sonoran Desert along the Mexican-U.S. border. The recorded surface temperatures in these spots reached 80.8°C or 177.4°F.

Luckily, most spots in the Americas don’t have such extremes. Most of North America has a temperate climate that makes the winters cold and the summer warm. But the variance is not unpleasant.

The weather is beautiful in Hawaii, making it a hot spot for teen travel.

The weather is beautiful in Hawaii, making it a hot spot for teen travel. Aloha Service, Summer 2019
2019 © Steve Boyle

South America has similar temperate zones, along with large tropical zones where the weather is warm and rainy.

A Melting Pot of Food

The United States is sometimes called a melting pot, and that certainly affects the food choices. International dishes are on the menu across the country.

With international travel, other nations in the Americas also have expanded food options. But in many smaller countries you can expect more traditional dishes.

A delicious meal in Peru
Credit: Rustic Pathways

Latin American countries often have rice and beans as staples during mealtime. How they’re prepared varies. You may find more refried beans in one country and black beans in another, and different sauces may be used.

There also are certain cultural specialties you may only find in specific locations. For example, you’ll likely see guinea pig or cuy on the menu in Peru. But that’s less likely to be a staple elsewhere.

Want to learn more?

Click on the country map below to learn more about our operations and teams in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Peru.

Need help choosing a program?

If you would like to discuss program options with an expert, click below to schedule a call with a Rustic Pathways Global Program Advisor. This team of travel experts has worked in a variety of capacities with Rustic, from running programs to leading our in-country operations. They love working with families to identify the right student travel program.