Our comprehensive training programs, year-round presence in countries, rigorous safety standards, and continued commitment to evaluating our programs and vendors ensure your students’ health and safety during transformative travel experiences.
Active Safety Alerts
Rustic Pathways continually monitors a number of trusted international and local safety resources to stay informed of what is happening in the areas we operate. Should we have any alerts, safety concerns, or travel advisories specific for our travelers, we will post them here.
Rustic's Health and Safety Philosophy
Ensuring the safety of your student as they travel with Rustic Pathways is the most important thing we do. For 35 years, we’ve refined our safety and security protocols to become a leader among providers of teen travel programs.
We take students to remote destinations, expose them to unfamiliar surroundings, and encourage personal growth through exploration. When conducted responsibly, these experiences transform students in ways that are impossible to replicate inside the classroom, and for this reason, the health and safety measures we take are a fundamental part of our travel programs.
Health and Safety Measures
Food and Water
Rustic chefs and cooks prepare meals and can make necessary adjustments for specific dietary needs and allergies. Some meals will take place at trusted local restaurants. All water is bottled or purified.
Accommodation and Transportation
All participants stay at Rustic-owned base houses or carefully vetted hotels, guesthouses, camps, or with trusted homestay families. In-country vehicle transportation is provided by Rustic drivers or local vendors. Rustic performs annual safety checks on all company-owned vehicles and vendor transport companies.
Vendors and Partners
Rustic reviews all external service providers, including transportation, accommodation, and activity vendors, annually. Vendor business infrastructure, hiring and training processes, and emergency management systems are assessed to make sure they are reputable and safe.
Preparing for Your Trip
- Complete Rustic’s Medical and Emergency form, which includes relevant medical histories, medications, food allergies, and dietary restrictions and our Participant Screening Team relays that information to Country Teams.
- Ask your Program Coordinator any additional questions about your upcoming trip. They can also provide pre-trip support before you leave, including instructions for obtaining vaccinations and visas, and offering packing tips.
- Attend a pre-trip information session either in person or online to ask any last-minute questions about your trip.
During Your Trip
- Fly with your teacher or group leader to your destination country.
- Meet your expert Program Leaders, who will be with you around the clock to deliver your program experience, answer any questions, or provide any medical assistance.
- Students and their parents have 24 / 7 emergency support and access to services from International SOS.
Meet Rustc's Health and Safety Team
Dave has a master’s degree in risk management and more than 20 years of experience in the adventure and student travel industry. Prior to joining us, he owned a consulting firm that specialized in implementing risk management and emergency response programs for both domestic and global tour operators. He works with our operations team and local country leadership to ensure the quality and consistency of all Rustic Pathways’ programs worldwide. Dave lives in Colorado with his wife and children.
A graduate of St John’s University in Minnesota, Pete developed his first love of travel studying abroad in New Zealand and Australia. That experience kicked off an 18-year career in the travel industry. Pete has guided groups across the United States, Canada, the Yukon Territory and way up north to Alaska. Through this vast experience, he has focused his career on Risk and Safety. Pete and his wife continue to travel all over the world and currently live in New York with their two beautiful daughters.
Dr. Will Smith is a recognized leader in wilderness medicine who joined Rustic Pathways in 2015. Dr. Smith practices emergency medicine in Jackson, Wyoming, and is clinical faculty for the University of Washington School of Medicine, as well as the Medical Director for the National Park Service. Locally, he serves as the Co-Medical Director for Grand Teton National Park, Teton County Search & Rescue, Bridger Teton National Forest, and Jackson Hole Fire / EMS.
Dr. David Baker, a psychological consultant in Winter Park, Florida, joined Rustic in 2013. He provides management consulting with focus on relational and communications concerns, conflict management and personal and professional transitions. Dr. Baker also consults with individuals, couples and families in private psychotherapeutic practice. He currently teaches in the post-graduate certificate program at the Tampa Bay Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies. Dr. Baker holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in theology.
Ann joined Rustic in 2014. She has been in emergency medicine for 35 years and has been a professional EMT and Wilderness First Responder instructor for decades. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education in addition to having certifications in specialized emergency medicine. When not screening our student’s before their programs, Ann teaches for Wilderness Medical Associates and even picks up ambulance shifts to keep her skills sharp.
Additional Safety Information
Many Program Leaders have backgrounds in teaching, experiential education, or international development. All full-time leaders are Wilderness First Responders and seasonal staff are First Aid and CPR certified—at a minimum. All Program Leaders receive additional specialized training annually in country before each summer travel season begins.
Country Operations teams and the Safety Director create risk management plans. They include critical incident protocols and natural disaster plans. However, most incidents Rustic responds to involve minor illnesses common during international travel. Program Leaders manage these situations with the support of Country Operations teams.
If an incident is more serious, Country Operations works with Rustic’s Crisis Response Team to coordinate the appropriate action, which could include engaging International SOS. Rustic’s Safety Director, Medical Director, and Mental Health Director remain available to ensure that students, families, and other essential stakeholders are informed and supported throughout incidents.