Every Girl Scout deserves a chance to see the world—whether it be to explore within her own neighborhood, around the city, or on the other side of the planet. We know planning trips can be a lot of work, so we’ve created this article just for troop leaders that outlines travel progression, planning resources, and exciting travel opportunities for your troop or individual Girl Scout.
Trip and Travel Progression
Volunteers without any travel experience probably aren’t ready to shepherd a group of 12+ Girl Scouts through an airport. Likewise, not all Girl Scouts will approach travel with the same comfort level or ability to follow rules while away. Troop leaders, troop volunteers, and Girl Scouts need to start with small, local trips to work their way up to advanced, national or international travel.
Every group is different and has unique experiences, but the following outlines the standard trip and travel progression for Girl Scouts. For a quicker, visual reference, download our Trip and Travel Progression Chart.Meeting-Time Trips
Appropriate for: All Girl Scout program grade levels
These mini-trips take place during a troop’s regular meeting time. The troop should start and end the at their regular meeting location and go to a point of interest that is within walking distance, a short car ride, or accessible via public transportation.
Appropriate for: All Girl Scout program grade levels
These simple, one-day excursions get girls away from their regular troop meeting place and last a few hours or more.
Appropriate for: All Girl Scout program grade levels
On simple overnight trips, Girl Scouts and volunteers can spend one to two nights at a point of interest. Points of interest examples include a Girl Scout facility or campsite, a nearby campground, or hotel.
3 nights are appropriate for: Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors
4+ nights are appropriate for: Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors
On extended overnight trips, Girl Scouts and volunteers can spend three or more nights at a point of interest. Points of interest can range anywhere from a nearby Girl Scout facility or campsite to across the continental United States.
Traveling within the United States gives your troop much more flexibility and options for travel! From the birthplace of Girl Scouts in Savannah, to National Parks, to cultural and historical sites, there is a domestic destination for every troop’s interest. Check out these location guides for sights, tips, and activities straight from the itineraries of troops who have visited! These troop-approved guides are just the start of your troop’s options.
Appropriate for: Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors
Travel to other countries or the United States territories is an option for Girl Scouts 11 years or older. Traveling to other countries opens many doors for them to broaden their cultural horizons and gain new perspectives.
Before your trip, immersing your troop in the culture of your point of interest can be a great way to get Girl Scouts excited and discover culturally relevant activities. You and your troop will also want to do an in-depth cultural exploration to make sure everyone is prepared (ex: understand the possibilities of language barriers, introduction to new cuisines, customs, etc.).
Please note: Some international locations may be on the travel warning list and are not recommended.
Planning for Trips and Travel
Planning for trips and travel is an opportunity for Girl Scouts to develop decision-making skills and work collaboratively with leaders and troop volunteers. Just remember, all trips should have an immediate purpose (such as complementing badges or learning new skills) and involve Girl Scouts in the planning process.Get Council Approval
Once the Girl Scout Travel Request Form has been approved, troop leaders should complete the Girl Scout Travel Approval Worksheet. This form, along with any accompanying documents, must be submitted to Girl Scouts River Valleys at least four weeks prior to departure.
For all other trips, regardless of length, the troop leader should complete the Travel Approval Worksheet. The worksheet is a helpful guide for troops to discuss and think through the details of trip planning. The completed worksheet, when left with an at-home contact, constitutes council approval of your trip.
You can use our Sample Budget Worksheet and Financial Agreement to estimate how much your trip will cost. From here, your troop can start setting goals for financing your trip!
Girl Scout and Family Contributions
There are many creative ways to finance trips and travel! Girl Scouts can make a personal contribution such as saved money from summer jobs, allowances, etc. Families (even extended relatives) can make contributions as well.
Travel plans can be great incentives for Girl Scouts to reach their Cookie Program and Snacks & Magazines sales goals. While Cookie Credits and Fall FUNds belong to individual troop members, some troops agree to use them to pay for troop activities, like traveling. They can be used for individual girl trips or troop trips. To apply Cookie Credits, Fall FUNds, or Juliette Program Credits to approved, extended trips, use the Cookie Credits, Fall FUNds, and Juliette Program Credit Reimbursement Form. These requests can take at least four weeks to process, so please plan your submission accordingly!
If the budget goal for a specific activity has not been met through product sales, troops may participate in additional money-earning projects outside of the Snacks & Magazines and Cookie sale seasons.
Your key resource for safety information is Safety Activity Checkpoints. Always review this document for general safety standards and activity-specific guidelines while planning activities and travel.
Sleeping arrangements are important to keeping Girl Scouts safe and to make everyone feel comfortable. Download our Sleeping Arrangement Guidelines to help minimize any unwanted behavior or feelings.
It’s important to keep families informed when making trip and travel plans. Families will expect thorough planning, the ability to provide input, and affordability. (Some may even be willing to help out with the planning process!)
Provide information in writing, get signed permission forms, have a parent meeting or two when planning longer trips, and discuss any sensitive issues such as expected behavior.
As departure nears, be sure to discuss expectations around being individually responsible for responding to communication.
For basic trips that are less than four hours drive, two nights or less, and not considered high-risk activities, the Annual Parent/Guardian Permission Slip is the only permission you need to collect. For all other trips and travel, the Troop Activity Parent/Guardian Permission Slip must be collected.
In additional to permission slips, you’ll need to collect any pertinent health information:
- Parents/guardians of Girl Scouts with medications must fill out the Medication Information Form, which documents medication information and permission to dispense.
- Parents/guardians of Girl Scouts with allergies must fill out the Allergy and Anaphylaxis Action Plan, which documents the type of allergy and outlines EpiPen® Auto-Injector usage.
Consider having Girl Scouts and volunteers complete a behavior contract. This gives everyone a chance to collaborate on expectations and to voice any concerns ahead of time. Download our Sample Participant Behavior Contract and make it your own!
There are several sponsored travel opportunities through Girl Scouts River Valleys and Girl Scouts of the USA.
The Destinations program brings individual Girl Scouts from across the nation on adventures across the United States and the world. Destinations programs fall into the following categories: international, outdoors, S.T.E.M. and life skills. Getaways are great for traveling with your troop and include a wide array of activities within the United States, such as Broadway shows, Girl Scout Jamborees, and national attractions.
Visit GirlScoutsRV.org/Travel to learn to more about these pre-organized trips.
Summary of Resources
- Trip and Travel Progression Chart – A visual chart outlining the standard trip and travel progression for Girl Scouts.
- Camp.GirlScoutsRV.org/Rentals – Girl Scouts can rent any of our camp properties and facilities for troop use.
- Girl Scout Travel Request Form – This form is required for extended overnight trips, international trips, regional trips, trips with multiple troops or service units, and high risk activities, and should be submitted at least six months prior to travel.
- Girl Scout Travel Approval Worksheet – All troops planning a troop trip or travel should complete this form. For trips requiring council approval, this form should be submitted at least four weeks prior to travel.
- Sample Budget Worksheet and Financial Agreement – This document will help you learn how much your trip will cost.
- Planning for Trip Safety Guide – A detailed guide on planning girl supervision, training Girl Scouts on the buddy system, dressing for outdoors, and creating emergency plans.
- Health, Safety, and Using Safety Activity Checkpoints – This article outlines how to use Safety Activity Checkpoints.
- Sleeping Arrangement Guidelines – This guide helps minimize any unwanted behavior or feelings around sleeping environments.
- Annual Parent/Guardian Permission Slip – This form must be collected for basic trips that are less than a four hour drive, two nights or less, and not considered high-risk activities.
- Troop Activity Parent/Guardian Permission Slip – Use this form for all trips where the Annual Parent/Guardian Permission Slip will not suffice.
- Medication Information Form – Parents/guardians of Girl Scouts with medications must document medication information and give permission to dispense.
- Allergy and Anaphylaxis Action Plan – Parents/guardians of Girl Scouts with allergies must documents allergy types.
- Sample Participant Behavior Contract – This optional contract gives everyone a chance to collaborate on travel expectations.
- Approved Bus Companies – Find companies that meet the standards of Girl Scouts River Valleys for transporting Girl Scouts for trips, activities, and events.
- GirlScoutsRV.org/Travel – Learn about pre-arranged travel opportunities through Girl Scouts River Valleys and Girl Scouts of the USA.
- Cookie Credits, Fall FUNds, and Juliette Program Credit Reimbursement Form – Complete this reimbursement form when using Cookie Credits, Fall FUNds, or Juliet Program Credits for council-approved travel fees.