Mystery Trip

Mystery Trip

The best adventures lie in the unknown.

Imagine not knowing where your travels will take you this summer—until arriving at the airport for your flight.

When you sign up for Rustic’s Mystery Trip, you’ll get a Patagonia duffel bag in the mail filled with subtle hints about your upcoming adventure and a packing list about a month before you leave. That’s it.

Even when you arrive in country, mystery looms. There’s no itinerary. Instead, you’ll wake to clues each morning and your group must decipher them to unravel that day’s adventure.

Join Rustic’s fifth Mystery Trip and explore iconic sites, discover the remote villages of some of our most beloved staff members, and blaze a trail for future students by exploring destinations we haven’t visited. Are you willing to take the leap?

2024 Departure Dates Coming in Fall 2023

Program Profile
Program Profile

Wall Street Journal: Why Even Control Freaks Are Opting for ‘Surprise Vacations’

The Wall Street Journal featured Rustic Pathways in a recent story about the growing popularity of mystery trips.

“Shanna Bober, a 17-year-old high school junior from Boca Raton, Fla., signed on for a guided mystery trip with Rustic Pathways last summer. She had to fight the urge to scour images on the company’s website for clues as to where she was headed. “It was hard,” she said, “But it was actually more rewarding. Learning everything there, in the moment, was so much cooler.”

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!
Consider no checked bag. We strongly recommend that you consider packing only a carry-on size bag. This prevents your luggage getting lost or separated from you, keeps your bag manageable, and helps you be more mobile on your travel day.
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.

Important Notes About Your Luggage

Try your best to pack light. Everything should fit into one checked bag and one carry-on since you will be moving around and will be traveling by car, bus, foot, etc. A medium sized duffle bag or a backpacking backpack work best. We strongly recommend that you do not use wheeled bags as they are unwieldy and take up lots of space. There are also very few paved surfaces in country that you can wheel them on.