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Off the Map: Mongolia

Off the Map: Mongolia

Journey from the central Mongolian lowlands to the rugged mountains of the country’s wild west. Leave modern devices at home as you explore untamed regions and trek through the countryside. Glimpse an ancient way of life traveling from ger to ger across Mongolia’s arid steppe without the luxuries of electricity, running water, or paved roads. From Kazakh eagle hunting to Tuva throat singing, the nomadic herders of Mongolia maintain traditions that date back to before the empire of Chinggis Khaan. In remote western Mongolia, help a local NGO that offers herding families nutritional guidance, educational opportunities, and improved infrastructure. This is a challenging experience—an adventurous spirit, positive attitude, and keen sense of exploration are required.

Students love learning about the way of life for tribal Mongolians! 

2023 Departure Dates Coming Soon

Students love our programs in Mongolia!
Program Profile
Program Profile

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 not packing shorts, which are not appropriate for Mongolia, bringing weather appropriate clothes, 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.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

A school backpack or similar sized bag is ideal.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Outlet power converter
  • Consent to Travel Letter (for students under 19, recommended by the US State Dept but not required)
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
  • Copy of flight information
Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.


  • Non-cotton socks (4-6)
  • Underwear (10-12)
  • Bras (3-4) (athletic-style recommended)
  • Non-cotton base layers/long underwear
  • Pants/capris (2-4) – zip-off pants are recommended
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long service shorts
  • T-shirts (3-5)
  • Long sleeved shirt (1-2)
  • Fleece sweater
  • Pajamas
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Rain jacket
  • Waterproof pants (should fit over other pants)
  • Heavy fleece jacket
  • Micro puff down jacket (rated for cold temperatures)
  • Soft shell jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (one for sun and one for warmth)
  • Gloves


(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Oxybenzone-free sunscreen (reef-safe)
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray (with DEET)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Contacts and solution
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Bathing wipes (50-100 count)
  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Tissue packs


  • Sleeping bag (0-20 degrees)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Watch with alarm clock
  • Large Ziploc bags (4)
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags (2)
  • Rain cover for pack


  • Gifts for host family
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc)


Important Reminders
  • Students traveling on a U.S. passport will receive a free visa on arrival. Students traveling on any other passports may need to apply for a visa prior to travel. Remember to keep your letter of invitation and your international flight itineraries in your carry-on baggage.
  • Mongolia is quite a conservative country in dress. Students will be expected to keep their shoulders and knees covered during the entire trip.
  • Gifts for your host families – something simple like a T-shirt or small souvenir from home, a few pieces of candy for the family’s children, a coloring book/crayons, etc.
  • Electricity is scarce for a large part of this program. You might consider bringing a personal solar charger for camera batteries.
  • Reminder: The flight to Mongolia can involve several stops and plane changes. Be sure to pack everything important in your carry-on, in case your checked luggage gets delayed. This includes medications, travel documents, and phone chargers and battery packs.