Explore the incredibly diverse landscape of California and visit locations that are among the most beautiful in the United States. From stunning mountains to delightful beaches, the Golden State is home to limitless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Visit impressive tufa towers at Mono Lake. Camp in the world-renowned Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite National Park—ending each evening by sharing meals and stories around the campfire. Participate in restoration and conservation in these beloved areas. Then head west and up the coast along historic U.S. Highway 1 through Big Sur, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. Explore the incredible natural wonders found across California and leave with an experience you’ll dream about forever.
Students love the camaraderie of camping under the stars and sharing stories around a campfire!
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!
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 25-30 Liter is ideal as this will also be the daypack you use during most daily activities.
- ID or Passport (if applicable)
- Photocopy of passport
- Visa documentation (if applicable)
- Refillable Water bottle – Required
- Book and/or journal
- Change of clothes
- Hiking boots – water resistant and must have ankle support
- Consent to Travel form
- Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
A 50-75 liter backpack or duffel is recommended, large enough to fit all your clothes and gear. Suitcases/wheeled bags are not suitable on this program. Students will not need to carry bags great distances but will be packing and moving every couple of days, so traveling light is key.
Key Points to Remember
- You will be carrying your bag throughout the program so bring only what you need and be prepared to wear clothes multiple times throughout the trip!
- Non-cotton layers are vital to ensuring your warmth and comfort, as cotton does not insulate or dry quickly if wet — bring some synthetic blends in addition to cotton.
- Mid/Heavyweight Socks (2-3) – merino wool socks are best
- Lightweight socks (5-7) – merino wool socks are best as they’ll keep your feet warm when wet and get stinky less quickly
- Underwear (15)
- Shorts (2 pairs)
- Mid-layer bottoms such as leggings (1-2)
- Hiking pants (1-2)
- Jeans (1)
- T-Shirts (8-10)
- Tank Tops (2)
- Mid-Layer tops (1-2)
- Mid-weight jacket (a light weight puffy jacket or warm fleece is ideal – temps can get into the 40s F at night)
- Waterproof/rain jacket
- Sandals (flip flops)
- Sandals that strap to feet (Chacos or Tevas)
- Hat with brim/visor
- Warm hat
- Quick dry towel (2) – one for beach, one for bathing
- Bathing suit
Toiletries – unscented and biodegradable products are highly recommended (Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
- Body wash
- Face wash
- Reef-safe sunscreen (oxybenzone-free), SPF 30+
- Lip sun protection, SPF 30+
- Bug spray
- Feminine hygiene products
- Contacts and solution (if applicable)
- Wet Wipes
- Sleeping bag (0-20°F / -18 to -6°C) – compact backpacking bags are ideal
- Headlamp with extra batteries