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Appendix 8.3: Travel and the Girl

Letting Girls Lead

Whether the trip is a day hike or a cross-country trek, the basic steps of trip planning are essentially the same. It’s true that as the locale gets farther away, the itinerary more complex, and the trip of greater duration, the details become richer and more complex, but planning every trip—from a day-long event to an international trek—starts by asking the following:

  • What do we hope to experience?
  • Who will we want to talk to and meet? What will we ask?
  • Where are we interested in going?
  • When are we all available to go?
  • Will everyone in our group be able to go?
  • Are there physical barriers that cannot be accommodated?
  • What are visiting hours and the need for advance reservations?
  • What are our options for getting there?
  • What’s the least and most this trip could cost?
  • What can we do now to get ourselves ready?
  • How will we earn the money?
  • What’s the availability of drinking water, restrooms, and eating places?
  • Where is emergency help available?
  • What safety factors must we consider?
  • What will we do as we travel?
  • What will we do when we get there?
  • How will we share the Take Action story?

As girls answer these questions, they begin the trip-planning process. In time, girls can make specific arrangements, attend to a myriad of details, create a budget and handle money, and accept responsibility for their personal conduct and safety. Later, after they’ve returned from an event or trip, girls also have the chance to evaluate their experiences and share them with others.

Tips for Girls Traveling Alone

If a Girl Scout Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador will be traveling alone during any part of a trip, use the opportunity to help her feel comfortable with and capable of being on her own. Always talk first with her parents to assess her maturity and ability to handle herself, and have them complete an emergency form. If she is flying, discuss the possibility of booking a nonstop flight to make her trip less stressful, and ask parents to contact the airline, which will make special arrangements for any unaccompanied minor. With the girl herself, develop a trip plan, discuss hotel security and safety, and talk about avoiding excess communication with strangers, not wearing a nametag, and avoiding exposing money or other items (such as smartphones, iPads, and iPods) that are attractive to pickpockets.

Staying Safe During the Trip

Be sure to discuss the following items with the girls and their parents before you leave on any trip (you may also want to put this information in writing and have girls sign it):

  • Who her buddy is—and how the buddy system works
  • What to do if she is separated from the group, whether by accident or because of a crime
  • What to do if she loses something significant: money, passport, luggage
  • How to report a crime
  • What to do if emergency help is needed
  • How to perform basic first-aid procedures
  • How to deal with a large crowd (if applicable)
  • What to do in the event of a crime
  • What behaviors you expect—and what consequences exist for not living up to those behaviors

Travel Security and Safety Tips

Share these safety tips with girls before you leave on any trip that involves a stay at a hotel, motel, hostel, or dormitory:

  • Always lock the door behind you, using the deadbolt and the chain or anchor.
  • Do not open the door for strangers; if hotel staff claims to be at the door, call the front desk to confirm.
  • Don’t mention or display your room number when in the presence of strangers.
  • Never leave jewelry, cameras, electronics, cash, or credit cards in your room.
  • Never leave luggage unattended in the hotel lobby (or in an airport or train or bus station).
  • When arriving at the hotel, locate emergency exits.
  • Keep a small flashlight on your bedside table, along with a small bag with your room key, wallet, passport, and cell phone. Take the flashlight and bag with you if you have to leave the room in an emergency.
  • If a fire alarm goes off, get out as quickly as possible. Don’t stop to pack your suitcase.
  • Before leaving your room, feel the door: If it is warm, do not open it. Stay in your room and stuff towels around the door. Call the hotel operator immediately. If the door is cool, proceed slowly out the door, looking for flames or smoke. Repeat these instructions for any door you encounter.
  • Contact the front desk to make sure girls’ rooms are cleared of any minibars or refrigerators. Also be sure the hotel doesn’t provide access to inappropriate movies on TVs and does not allow long-distance calls. Alert the hotel management that underage girls are staying in the hotel, and ask them to contact you if any girls are seen out of their rooms after bedtime.

Reengaging Girls

The end of this trip doesn’t have to be the end of a girls’ time with Girl Scouting. Some girls participate in Girl Scouting in all sorts of ways; others are excited only about travel. What lies ahead for them—and for you?

  • Girls who have never been involved in any other way besides travel may be looking for longer-term opportunities closer at home. Younger Cadettes may want to participate in resident camp, while Seniors and Ambassadors—as well as older Cadettes—will want to hear all about upcoming series and events at your council.
  • Girls who have traveled once tend to want to travel again. Be sure girls are aware that other travel opportunities, such as destinations, will exist for them in the years ahead. The great experiences they had on this trip may have prepared them for longer and more global trips in the future.
  • Girls may want to hear about the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards, which are opportunities for them to make a dramatic difference in their communities—and to have plenty to brag about with college admissions officers, too!

And what about you? If you’re ready for more opportunities to work with girls, be sure to let your council know how you’d like to be a part of girls’ lives in the future. Are you ready for a year-long volunteer opportunity with a troop? help organize a series or event? take another trip? The possibilities are endless.