We know that preparing for a big trip abroad can leave you with a lot of questions. Dive into some that past travelers have asked, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if there are any questions we missed.
Global Routes draws students from all over North America and the world seeking adventure, genuine cross-cultural immersion, and personal growth. Our participants are looking for something more authentic than a teen-tour and more culturally engaging than strictly wilderness or adventure programs. Global Routes participants return as more confident, directed, self-aware, and adventurous global citizens.
We expect you to have a positive attitude, demonstrate patience and flexibility in the face of the inherent challenges of group living in a foreign country, be sensitive to the cultures and customs of your host community, contribute to a positive group experience, and abide by the student contract you sign on the application. No previous construction or teaching experience is necessary.
Living conditions will vary throughout your program, but they will always be safe and comfortable. During orientation and final travel you stay with your group in family-run guesthouses or small hostels or hotels. During the homestay portion of your program, your entire group will stay in one village where you and a partner live in a simple and rustic home, constructed of wood or cement block. Host families are selected for their warmth and friendliness, though their homes may not have electricity or indoor plumbing.
Your leaders are possibly the best part of your program! We pride ourselves on having fantastic leadership, selected for their professionalism, cross-cultural experience, educational background, leadership skills, and empathy.
In each destination we have in-country staff who identify potential communities and interview and select each host family. Prior to the start of your program, one of your leaders makes an additional pre-trip visit to your community to meet with village leaders, members of the project committee, and all host families. We go to new communities and work with new families nearly every year. This keeps the experience unique and special for communities and students alike.
You spend between 10 and 18 days on the service projects (40-100 hours total) and work between 5 and 8 hours each day. After the workday is over, you have a chance to develop your secondary projects, play soccer with local children, help prepare dinner with your host family, or simply enjoy some down-time to read, relax, and take it all in. Some evenings are spent meeting with your group to discuss the service projects or plan a community party. On the weekends, you and your group may have the chance to go to a nearby beach, hike to a waterfall, accompany your family to the local market, or attend a dance in a neighboring community.
We present all students with a certificate noting the number of completed community service hours. You will complete anywhere between 40 and 100 community service hours, depending on your program. Each school determines whether or not Global Routes service hours meet their requirements. We’re happy to communicate with your school service advisor ahead of time to answer any questions they may have about your service work.
Many of our students are vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions. We make every effort to accommodate dietary restrictions to ensure that each student is well-fed. There may be occasions when it is not possible to obtain a different meal or when hosts do not understand the dietary restriction and are therefore unable to prepare the meal accordingly. In these cases we ask you to be culturally sensitive, flexible, and patient as we work together to find a solution.
Most Global Routes programs require a passport. Once we receive your application and reserve a space for you in the program, we provide you access to a password-protected webpage designed specifically for your program. There, we post information about passports and visas, detailed packing lists, all necessary travel information, information about your leaders, and much more! We’re also always on hand to answer any questions you might have.
We take every precaution possible to ensure a safe and healthy experience. We provide you with a comprehensive list of immunization recommendations specific to your program to make certain that your preventive inoculations are up to date. Additionally, each of your leaders is certified in First Aid and CPR and travels with a well-stocked medical kit. If you have allergies which require special emergency medications such as Epi-Pens, please contact us and we’ll work out those details if necessary. Finally, we have highly competent medical contacts in each destination upon whom we can call for assistance when necessary.
Visit our Enroll page here in order to learn about enrolling in gap and summer programs. In order to guarantee your spot, you may need to submit a deposit.
Both summer and gap programs are structured similarly – orientation, service, and final travel – and have ample opportunities for travelers to build their global competencies, learn more about themselves, and engage in deep cross-cultural immersion. That said, there are some important differences.
Global Routes high school programs are available to students finishing 9th-12th grades, whereas gap programs are available to students who have finished 12th grade or are currently enrolled in university (ages 17-22). Our gap programs are longer (3 months versus 4-6 weeks) and tend to be smaller groups (12 versus 18 maximum). During the homestay, most gap students live independently with their host family, whereas our summer program students are in pairs or groups of three. Overall, there is a more independent focus on the gap/college and therefore more opportunities to establish your own routine and community through the implementation of the Teaching Internship.
We are a proud member of the Windsor Mountain community, with whom we share our headquarters as well as a long history. Back in the 1960s, when Windsor Mountain was known as Interlocken International Summer Camp, a program named Crossroads was developed to bring campers on cross-cultural exchange programs around the world. Over the past 50+ years, the exchange program has evolved such that it incorporates more destinations and a curriculum that focuses on community service as well as cultural exchange, and is now under the name of Global Routes. We maintain a close relationship with camp and every summer we are a part of daily camp life. Many of our students were campers at Windsor Mountain, and several of our leaders were once counselors.
We appreciate that cell phones can be helpful when meeting your leader or parent on travel days and therefore we permit the use of cell phones for communication on the first and last days of your program ONLY. Cell phone use is not allowed during the entire course of the program.
Global Routes stays in close contact with each program and receives updates every few days. We are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to our group leaders for the entire summer, and provide regular updates via email and blog posts to parents, guardians, and mentors back home. Additionally, students will have a few opportunities throughout the program to contact home by mail, email, and phone.
Whether Global Routes is the best fit for you or not, we’re here to help.