Our leaders are the best. They are sticklers for safety, hygiene, good cooking and developing great group dynamics. They have experience working with young people and are highly skilled and deeply committed people. Most importantly, they have strong values: honesty, integrity, respect for the environment, and compassion for others. It is our understanding that The Road Less Traveled leaders are among the highest paid in the industry. The average age of our leaders is 26 years old. Each leader is selected personally by us for their ability to prevent and solve problems in the field, their commitment to environmental stewardship, their capacity to relate to and enjoy our young people, their language skills and travel experience, and their knowledge and love of the places we visit. Genuine, spirited, friendly, athletic, well-educated and well-traveled, our leaders are experts in wilderness adventure, service learning, culture, and language. All of our leaders are Wilderness First Responder certified.
The Road Less Traveled does ten days of leader training. We train on everything you can imagine, spending some time on “Hard Skills” and more time on “Soft Skills”. From country and trip specific health issues, extensive training on specific program logistics, health care protocols, group management, and sanitation guidelines to conflict resolution, behavior management, the stages of group development, leadership roles and responsibilities, flexibility in working with teens, patience, motivation and emotion, active listening and so much more.
It depends on the trip. Our maximum student to leader ratio is 8:1, with both male and female leaders represented on each program. More commonly, our student to leader ratio is 6:1 and can be as low as 2:1 while working with expert guides.
Road Less Traveled leaders, alumni, and their parents speak far more expressively about their experience on RLT than we ever could write here. For a reference list of families who have participated on a specific program or for an area-specific reference list, please call our office at 773-342-5200 or contact us.
There is so much more to safety than we can possibly write on a website or in our catalog. We encourage you to take the time to call us, ask the tough questions, get to know us, talk about our risk management practices and safety record and compare us to others. Everyone’s physical and emotional safety is our first priority and we have an exceptional safety record to prove it. The Road Less Traveled's philosophy is that wilderness medical training is serious business; therefore, ALL leaders are required to have advanced first-aid training in the form of WEMT (Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician), EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), or WFR (Wilderness First Responder) certification. All have CPR training, and many have Red Cross Lifeguard training. Leaders can consult with the directors any time of the day or night. We also have a doctor on call at all times and designated medical facilities and evacuation routes in each of the areas we travel. All groups carry either ground-to-air radios, phones (either cellular or satellite phones), and extensive first-aid kits that include epi-pens and antibiotics. Our medical protocols are reviewed annually by our Medical Director. Participants wear life jackets, safety harnesses, and helmets during all adventure activities. Specific safety protocols are in place for community service construction projects.
More safety information can be found by going to our Safety and Accreditation page.
You will be notified via email with the next steps of our admissions process once we receive your student's deposit. These next steps include a short participant interview, student references, and a health and medical form for your student.
Once our admissions team reviews your student's information they will send you a 'you're all set email'. As the program's start date gets closer, you will receive a link to a trip specific homepage for your student's trip. This homepage will have airfare information, packing lists, forms to be completed, and other details specific to the program.
Addtionally, you will receive a link to an online form to input your flight details and other important information.
If you have questions about the process please call our office to speak with someone from our admissions team 773-342-5200.
Students can bring a cell phone for communication on arrival and departure days only to coordinate meeting up with our leaders. Otherwise, students should leave all electronics (except for a camera) at home. Parents can expect an email from our office once the entire group has arrived at their destination. If your child is traveling within the US you can request that they call you from their cell phones once they've landed in their destination. Once they meet up with their group at the airport, their cell phones will be held by RLT leaders for the remainder of the trip.
We will do everything we can to have participants call home at least once at some point during the middle of the trip when it is convenient for the whole group to make calls. However, it will be hard to anticipate when to expect a phone call due to the inaccessibility of telephones in many of the areas we travel. Our Admissions Team will do their best to notify you 24 hours in advance of your student's call home.
Parents will receive emails, occasional phone calls from the office as well as social media updates about your child throughout the duration of the program. Communication might not be direct with your child but there will be plenty of photos, status updates and email stories to keep you informed about the group's activities while on the trip.
Over the summer, our office is available by phone 24 hours a day, and can communicate any messages to our trips in the field. Please feel free to pick up the phone and call us with any concerns.
Details on when to make your travel arrangements will be included in the trip specific information sent out during our admissions. Many of our trips that operate out of the country have accompanied, flights which enable our leaders and students to travel to and from the destination country (and in-country if applicable) together. Specifics on which trips have RLT leader accompanied flights, can be discussed by calling our office at 773-342-5200.
If you are enrolled on a program that has an in-country a flight, RLT will hold a seat in the traveler's name. Detailed instructions on finalizing the ticketing and purchasing of the held seat will come via email when the airline is ready to ticket each passenger
If you are enrolled on a program that has the option of flying to and from the destination with an RLT leader accompanying the flight, detailed information will be sent along as part of the trip specific homepage information.
We ask that families adhere to certain time parameters in order for the groups to gather and move directly from the airport to begin their trip, and directly from the accommodations to end their trip. For those trips that do not have a group flight, we can provide you with names of other participants coming from your general area (if any are enrolled) so that students who wish to can travel together on the same flights.
Absolutely! Our leaders will be waiting to greet your child at the destination city on arrival day. Depending on what trip they are enrolled on, students can expect to be met as they de-board their plane, immediately outside security, or occasionally at baggage claim. Our leaders will accompany your child to the airport on the day of departure, and remain in the airport until all planes have cleared the airspace. To ensure efficient coordination of arrivals and departures, we ask that you coordinate airline reservations with the RLT office. Please do not book airfare without contacting our office first.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations in order to participate, other than an updated Tetanus booster within the last 9 years. We follow the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for the overseas locations to which we travel. The decision to receive vaccinations and/or prophylaxis medication is an individual one, which should be made in close consultation with a travel health specialist and/or your personal Physician. Additional country-specific health information on the provinces/states visited on each program will be provided throughout the admissions process and by email.
Absolutely. We know that when students come without knowing anyone else, they have a better experience than when they come with a friend. We will occasionally allow friends or relatives to come on a program together, but only after a careful screening process and a specific conversation with the two applicants regarding our expectations of inclusive behavior. Our students come from all over the country (both coasts and everywhere in-between) as well as from all over the world. Our programs are carefully designed to foster group development and positive group dynamics and we work hard to ensure every student feels welcomed and included. We know that inclusion works, and exclusion and mutually exclusive relationships do not work. We expect everyone who joins us to be a positive contributing member of the group.
Yes -- your student can come with a friend, but please know, they will have a better experience if they come alone. Please note that no more than one pair of friends are allowed to travel together on each trip. This is on a first come first serve basis. If your student does decide to come with a friend, we will require they put as much energy into everyone else on the trip as they will their friend. We know that inclusion works and exclusion does not work, nor do mutually exclusive relationships. We expect everyone who joins us to be a positive contributing member of the group.
If you have questions please call our office to speak with someone from our admissions team 773.342.5200.
Plenty of good food, nutrition and fun are all a part of our shopping for, preparing and eating our meals together. Each group plans, buys, prepares, eats, and cleans up all meals together. With leader supervision, our students help prepare all meals. On our overseas trips, everyone is involved in the cooking. You will have the opportunity to experience local dishes and depending on where you may be on The Road, we may work with local cooks that help shop for, plan and cook meals. Vegetarians are welcome. Other special needs diets may be accommodated, but it is important to keep in mind that many meals at The Road Less Traveled are prepared in basic kitchens (or outdoors), and groceries are typically purchased from small stores that may have limited choices. Please call our office to discuss specifics.
RLT does not allow any modern technology on our programs. Free from cell phones, computers, and iPods students are free to focus on cultivating individual strengths in ways that build confidence and self-reliance.
Non cell phone cameras and GoPros are welcomed and the only exceptions to this technology rule. We want students to feel empowered to capture the beauty surrounding them.
We do want students to travel with their cell phones for arrival and departure days in case they need to connect with their leaders or family. Once the program begins our trip leaders will collect all personal electronics and return them at the end of the expedition.
We are very proud to say we are accredited by the American Camp Association – and have been since our first year of operation. Our ACA accreditation indicates we have voluntarily allowed our practices to be compared with over 300 standards established by professionals in the camp industry, and we have met or exceeded those standards. The Road Less Traveled is also members of the Camp Owners and Director's Association (CODA) and the Midwest Association of Independent Camps. For more information on our accreditation, as well as our certified B-Corp status, please visit our Safety and Accreditation page.
We are pleased that you have chosen The Road Less Traveled, and you should anticipate an exciting and memorable summer. We realize that even the most enthusiastic participants may experience anxiety about their trip, and we’d like to take this opportunity to address some of these issues.
Homesickness and anxiety are natural reactions to a new experience. The cure lies in our sensitivity to the situation and in clear communication between you, your child, and us. Some participants display their homesickness outwardly and share their concerns with our staff; others hide it and only tell their parents or peers. Should your child express these feelings to you while on their trip, it is important that you let us know. It is not uncommon for some participants, for one reason or another, to let their parents know (either during the mid-trip phone call home, or sometimes in a letter) that they are feeling homesick and/or unhappy. If you let us know that you are receiving unhappy reports, we can plan together and develop a course of action which will help your child feel more comfortable with this important developmental challenge. All children will, at one time or another, feel doubt, fear, homesickness, anger, etc. Our goal is to guide your child through these frustrating times and help him or her have an exceptional summer.
The leader of your child’s expedition will be calling you before your trip starts to talk with you and your child about the trip and to answer any questions that you may have. It is also a chance for our leaders to gain a sense of who your child is and what you all hope and expect to get out of the summer. Please feel free to discuss any concerns with the trip leader at this time; a well-informed leader is that much more equipped to work with your child’s specific needs during the program.
Since our founding, RLT has endeavored to make our programs available to all, no matter their financial situation. If you have a passion to participate, we are happy to work with you to help make an RLT summer a real possibility. Please contact Ashley Castellanos via email, including your home city and state, current grade, as well as the name of your school, to find out more and to determine if you qualify to apply. Some of our funding is made possible through Geography Of Hope.