Flights and Travel

Flights and Travel

When you enroll in a Rustic Pathways Student Travel program, you’ll have the option to select a chaperoned group flight arranged by Rustic Pathways (if traveling from the United States to an international destination), or you can choose to book your own airfare.

This information applies for travel on our spring break and summer programs as seen here. If you are traveling with your school, please refer to the organizing teacher at your school for airfare details.

Chaperoned Group Flights

Our chaperoned group flights are really the beginning of the travel experience for many students.

  • Make new friends before even leaving the US
  • We take care of all the hassles of flights
  • Extra security with a chaperone on each international flight

It’s where they meet and start to develop friendships that morph into multi-year travel buddies. Chaperoned group flights are also the most convenient way to travel – we handle all your flight details, including booking, trouble-shooting ticket changes, and day-of-travel flight delays / cancellations.

Our team greets students at the airport, flies with them to their destination country (and on their return flight home), helps them navigate customs and immigration, and finds their baggage.

Students on chaperoned group flights are still required to arrange their own travel to one of our gateway airports where their international flights depart. Those could include Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Miami International Airport (MIA), John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York, or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), depending on your program destination.

Any applicable airfare and taxes are estimates and may fluctuate as we finalize airline contracts. Checked luggage fees are included in the airfare cost. Should any of these costs change, we will notify you immediately.

Most parents choose to book chaperoned flights for their children.

Self-Managed Airfare

Families are encouraged to fly on our chaperoned group flight, and most do however, it is possible to book your own child’s flights directly. Please note, that because Rustic is not involved in the purchase of self-managed airfare, these flights will not be chaperoned by Rustic Pathways Staff and we will not be able to assist with any flight delays, cancellations, or additional costs associated with those changes.

Self-Managed Airfare Arrival & Departure Times

If you select the self-managed airfare option, we will provide you with Arrival Windows for your student to arrive and depart the destination airport. If your student’s travel falls outside of the times we provide you will incur additional charges.

Beginning Travel Outside of the United States

Students beginning their program from outside the United States are responsible for booking their own airfare and confirming the travel information with Rustic Pathways. Or they may choose to join one of our chaperoned group flights departing from one of our gateway airports in the United States if that is convenient with their travel arrangements.

Please note that should you book your own airfare, these flights will not be chaperoned by Rustic Pathways staff, but we’ll clearly identify the staff member who will meet your child after they arrive in country. It’s important that you contact us for information relating to the preferred arrival and departure times for your program. If special pick-up and drop-off arrangements outside these time frames are required, an out of window fee will be assessed each way. Please call our office at +1 440.975.9691 for more information.

Traveling Within the United States

Students traveling on Rustic Pathways programs in the United States are responsible for arranging their own travel to and from their program(s) within specified arrival and departure windows.

Traveling During Spring Break

Students traveling on Rustic Pathways Spring Break programs are also responsible for booking their own flights.

More Questions about Flights?
Read our Flights and Travel FAQs

Unaccompanied Minor Policies

Many airlines classify children of a certain age who are traveling without an adult as “unaccompanied minors,” and have strict policies about how these children must be supervised on the airplane and in the airport. Airlines assess fees if a child is classified as an unaccompanied minor (fees and ages vary depending on the airline).

The unaccompanied minor process is designed to ensure our younger travelers have a great and comfortable experience. While parents are responsible for making all unaccompanied minor arrangements for their child’s round-trip flights and for paying any applicable airline fees, Rustic Pathways is here to help make this process easier for you.

Rustic Pathways provides an Airport Coordinator to meet and greet students at their gate when their flight arrives at the domestic gateway airport. Parents should add their domestic flight info in their My Rustic Portal (which you’ll gain access to after enrolling) so we can schedule our staff to meet your child. We will provide parents with the name, address, and phone number of that staff member at least one week before their child’s departure date to include their contact information on the airline paperwork. If parents want to complete their Unaccompanied Minor paperwork before we send the exact contact information, they can list “Rustic Pathways” as the pickup person until they can provide the airline with the staff member’s name.

NOTE: Parents MUST update the airline with the exact contact information of their Unaccompanied Minor Coordinator prior to the domestic flight because the airline will only release their child to the exact person listed on the paperwork.

Additional Flight Information

Chaperoned Group Flights Costs

The price of chaperoned group flights includes the cost of Rustic Pathways Flight Leaders to accompany all students on their round trip flight as well as the cost of employing Rustic Pathways Airport Coordinators at our gateway airports to help students connect with their group and Flight Leaders before their international flights. Employing Airport Coordinators and Flight Leaders ensures that all students remain accounted for and are safely escorted out of and back into the United States before and after their program.

Rustic Pathways chaperoned group flight tickets are nonrefundable. Airline tickets that permit changes will have an associated fee incurred by the specific carrier. In most cases, seat assignments are given at check-in. If you have a specific seat or meal request, we will do our best to accommodate you.  Please contact your personal travel advisor with your request.

Late-Season Bookings

Seats on our chaperoned group flight are not a guarantee, they are available on a first come first served basis. If you are enrolling after March 30th and would like to be added please call us at +1 440-975-9691 to ensure we have seats available.

Please apply for your summer program as early as possible to avoid higher airfare costs. Late-season applicants must complete all of the necessary paperwork prior to the start of their departure date.

Communicating With Your Child During Travel

high school students waiting for a flight for a summer travel program at the airport

Safe Arrival Emails

When students depart their homes and begin journeys with Rustic Pathways, we understand how eager families are to receive notice of their child’s safe arrival. Within 24 hours of reaching their program destination, parents will receive an email confirming their child’s safe arrival in country. You’ll also receive emails throughout the trip with short updates about your child’s group.

If the student is connecting multiple trips, parents may not necessarily receive a safe arrival email each time their child transfers between programs.

The Benefits of Disconnecting

Rustic restricts cell phone use on programs to select times of day, usually before breakfast or after that evening’s activities. During the day, students are allowed to use their phones as cameras, but will be asked to keep them put away during meals, program activities, community service, and discussions.

(Because there is a wide variety of cellular service and / or Wi-Fi on our programs, you’ll receive clearer expectations about connectivity as your departure nears.)

To help prepare students and their parents for these times of limited connectivity, we ask that they discuss the importance of disconnecting before their program. Doing so will allow students to really engage with their program and get the most from their travel experience.

Read more:
Why You Should Disconnect When Traveling Abroad
What Happened When I Put Down my Cellphone During my Rustic Trip
An Open Letter to Parents About Cell Phones