Council Troop Travel Guide
- Discuss travel opportunities and research ideas
- Choose a destination
- Develop a trip itinerary draft and state the purpose of the trip
- Submit the Intent to Travel form to the council contact person if your trip is 3 nights or more in length, or an international trip
- Research and choose lodging
- Research and choose transportation
- Rental contracts signed only by approved council staff (required)
- Certificates of insurance provided to council staff (required of all bus companies)
- Develop trip budget
- Plan and participate in troop money-earning activities, if needed; submit the Money-Earning Activity Form to your council contact
- Read applicable sections of Volunteer Essentials, Safety Activity Checkpoints, and Safety Guidelines
- Develop a troop travel agreement; collect signed copies from all girls and parents Create a packing list for the trip
- Collect signed Parent Permission Form and a Girl Scout Health History Form for all adults and girls
- Submit the Troop/Group Travel & High-Risk Form, with itinerary and roster, to council staff, if your trip is more than 3 nights in length or an international trip
- Purchase additional insurance, if needed (see the GSNWGL Troop Trips at-a-glance table in the appendix)
1. Girl Scout Leadership Experience
Choosing where to go and what to do is part of the fun for the girls! Throughout the planning stage, use the Girl Scout Leadership Experience processes:
- learning by doing
- cooperative learning
Support girls to work successfully in groups and accept the responsibilities of working together to make realistic, detailed plans well in advance. Even Daisies can brainstorm a list of ideas, Juniors can research admission fees and hours of operation, and Ambassadors can make airline reservations. Let the girls take on the leadership roles in planning and carrying out their trip!
2. Council Consent and Forms
Our council office needs to know of all troops/groups who are travelling in the name of Girl Scouts, when the trip involves an overnight stay that is not on GSNWGL property or camps, and or a trip that is more than three nights in length. Send the forms to our council in the requested time frame insures both adequate troop preparation and time for the proper insurance coverage to be obtained. The forms a leader fills out will provide the critical contact information needed in case of an emergency. In some cases, GSNWGL staff will be able to offer planning advice to some of the most common and popular destinations!
- For extended troop trips (3+ nights away or more), the Intent to Travel Form (see the appendix) is due three months prior to your trip. For international trips, the Intent to Travel Form is due one year prior to the trip.
- At least two weeks before your trip, complete the Troop/Group Travel & High-Risk Form (see the appendix) and submit to council staff.
3. Trip Planning and Preparation
The trip should be of interest to the girls and be appropriate for their age group. Through the planning process, the girls will practice developing plans, making arrangements, budgeting and handling money, accepting responsibility for personal conduct and safety, and evaluating and sharing their experience with others.
Regardless of the troop’s grade level, the basic steps to plan a trip never change! Every group starts with the same questions:
- Where are we going?
- Why are we going?
- When are we going?
- How will we get there?
- What will we do along the way?
- How much will it cost?
- How should we get ready?
Encourage the girls to learn as much as possible about the area where they will travel, including the people, language, culture, customs, food and activities they will be experiencing. Be culturally respectful travelers.
Each day’s schedule includes time for eating, sleeping, rest and relaxation, recreation and personal needs. Plans consider both drivers and passengers, and the mileage to be covered each day is reasonable for the terrain expected.
Check the Adult-to-Girl Ratio in Volunteer Essentials to plan for the correct number of adults present on the trip.
Get reservations for lodging and activities confirmed ahead of time, in writing.
The entire itinerary is known to adults, parents, your council and the emergency contact at home.
Leaving the routine of the troop meeting is exciting! Be sure to set expectations of behavior for your trip in advance. For example, younger girls should talk about what good behavior looks like in a children’s museum, or a fire station, or listening to a presentation. Older girls taking a longer trip together can talk about how to resolve conflicts that arise from living in close quarters for five days in a row.
Help the girls to understand their responsibilities as travelers. Everyone is briefed on appropriate conduct and safety precautions in public places, restrooms, escalators and elevators, as well as on stairs and while in transit: walking, biking, cars, buses, trains and airplanes. Travel responsibilities extend to being good guests, being open to new experiences and open to appreciating local customs and foods.
- When the group travels in uniform, all travelers should have a uniform and wear it correctly. Girls and adults are encouraged to be in uniform at World Centers and at other Girl Guide/Girl Scout activities and events.
- Be specific about what clothing and equipment to take and how to use and pack the equipment.
- Set individual limits on luggage and equipment! Each person should be able to carry her own belongings except when a special consideration, such as a disability, warrants an alternative plan.
- Leave all valuables at home!
Safety information should be referenced when preparing for any trip.
See Safety page for details.
How do I plan a trip that includes water activities?
Many water activities require a lifeguard or person certified in boating safety to be present. If the facility does not provide a staff person meeting these requirements, troops would be required to bring a lifeguard to accompany them. See the Swimming, Canoeing, Boating, Stand-up Paddleboard, or Surfing Safety Activity Checkpoints.
- One suggestion is to look for a hotel or water park where lifeguards are already present, so you don’t need to bring a lifeguard with you. Generally, pools with waterslide features have lifeguards. Always call ahead to confirm.
- In a pool setting, certified lifeguards may be 16 years old. In other settings, certified lifeguards should be 18 or older.
Where can I go horseback riding?
Horseback riding is considered a high-risk activity and is not recommended for girls below Junior level. Our Council has approved horseback riding stables that meet our insurance and safety standards, located on our Field Trip & Travel Partners page. These are the only facilities within our Council’s jurisdiction Girl Scout troops may utilize. Approved stables may be added or discontinued during the year due to a lapse in standards. Because each facility offers a different riding experience, we recommend you call each facility to find the one that best meets the needs and interests of your troop.
How do I organize girl and adult sleeping areas on my overnight trip?
It is not mandatory that an adult sleep in the same tent or cabin as the girls. If an adult female does share the sleeping area, there should always be two unrelated adult females present. Ensure the sleeping arrangement details are clearly explained in the parent/guardian permission slip.
- One suggestion in hotels is to have adjoining hotel rooms or a suite.
Can a Girl Scout travel by herself?
Girls can travel without a troop when they participate in destination, trips sponsored by Girl Scouts of the USA. The trips vary from local (Apostle Islands, Madison) to national (Savannah, Hollywood, New York) to international (Peru, China, London). There are also a number of apprenticeships available (photography, sailing)! Lastly, there are shorter destinations called getaways, which run for fewer days and are less expensive. Dates for getaways are open to work with your own schedule! These getaways might be perfect for your troop.