Every girl deserves a chance to see the world—whether exploring her own neighborhood, city, or 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 which outlines travel progressions, planning resources, and exciting travel opportunities for your troop or individual Girl Scout.
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Trip and Travel Progression
Volunteers without any travel experience probably aren’t ready to shepherd a group of 12+ girls through an airport. Likewise, not all girls will approach travel with the same comfort level or ability to follow rules while away. Troop leaders, troop volunteers, and girls need to start with small, local trips and can 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.
Check out our approved activity, vendor, and field-trip opportunities for some ideas!
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. Check out our approved activity, vendor, and field-trip opportunities for some ideas!
Appropriate for: Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors
On simple overnight trips, girls 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, girls 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.
Travel within the United States offers many different cultural opportunities. Before your trip, immersing your troop in the culture of your point of interest can be a great way to get girls excited and discover culturally relevant activities.
Appropriate for: Seniors and Ambassadors
Travel to other countries or the United States territories is an option for girls 14 years or older. Traveling to other countries opens many doors for girls 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 girls excited and discover culturally relevant activities. You and your girls will also want to do an in-depth cultural exploration to make sure everyone is prepared. For example, it is important to understand the possibilities of language barriers, introduction to new cuisines, customs, and more!
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 girls 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 awards) and involve girls in the planning process.Get Council Approval
For extended overnight trips, international trips, regional trips, trips with multiple troops or service units, and activities with high risk, troop leaders must complete the Girl Scout Trip–Request to Plan Form for approval. This form is due once you and the girls have completed the initial planning process (where, when, etc.) or approximately three years to six months prior to the departure date.
The Planning Worksheet and all accompanying documents must be submitted to River Valleys at least 8 weeks prior to departure.
You can use our Sample Budget Worksheet and Financial Agreement to learn how much your trip will cost.
Girl and Family Contributions
There are many creative ways to finance trips and travel! Girls can make a personal contribution such as saved money from summer jobs, allowances, etc. Families (even extended relatives) can make contributions as well. Girls can ask family and friends to contribute to their trip fund instead of purchasing birthday or holiday gifts.
Travel plans can be incentives given for reaching Cookie Program and Snacks & Magazines sales goals. While Cookie Credits and Fall FUNds belong to individual girls, some troops agree to use them to pay for troop activities, like traveling. They can be used for individual girl trips or troop trips.
If the budget goal for a specific activity has not been met through product sales, girls may participate in additional money-earning projects.
For detailed information on money-earning activities, Cookie Credits, and Fall FUNds, see our Earning and Managing Troop Money article.
When taking girls on any trip, planning for safety is a priority. This includes thinking through everything from handling home-sickness, girl-to-adult ratios, creating a first-aid kit, to having an emergency contingency plan.
For a detailed guide on planning girl supervision, training girls on the buddy system, dressing for the outdoors, and creating emergency plans, download our Planning for Trip Safety Guide.
See our Health, Safety, and Using Safety-Wise article to plan in accordance with Safety-Wise and Safety Activity Checkpoints. Safety-Wise is our reference document which outlines safety standards for Girl Scouting activities, for detailed information on safety responsibilities, knowing how many volunteers you need, transportation, chaperone guidelines, preparing for accidents and emergencies, and more.
Sleep time can make girls and adults feel vulnerable and uncomfortable with their surroundings. 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 girls with medications must fill out the Medication Information Form, which documents medication information and permission to dispense.
- Parents/guardians of girls 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 girls 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, science, people, and apprenticeships. 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.
Additionally, local volunteers are working with Girl Scouts River Valleys to create the River Valleys Belize: Wildlife Adventure Tour in Summer 2019!
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 Trip–Request to Plan Form – This form is required three years to six months prior to extended overnight trips, international trips, regional trips, trips with multiple troops or service units, and high risk activities.
- Girl Scout Trip–Planning Worksheet – This form is required eight weeks prior to all trips and 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 girls on the buddy system, dressing for outdoors, and creating emergency plans.
- Health, Safety, and Using Safety-Wise – This article outlines how to use Safety-Wise and 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 four hours 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 girls with medications must document medication information and give permission to dispense.
- Allergy and Anaphylaxis Action Plan – Parents/guardians of girls with allergies must documents allergy types.
- Sample Participant Behavior Contract – This optional contract gives everyone a chance to collaborate on travel expectations.
- Activity Vendor Directory – Search for bus companies, horse stables, community service, and field-trip opportunities for your trips.
- GirlScoutsRV.org/Travel – Learn about pre-arranged travel opportunities through Girl Scouts River Valleys and Girl Scouts of the USA.