Girl Scout travel is full of wonders: going to new places, seeing amazing historical sights, and experiencing cultures and languages different from our own. Travel can transform a Girl Scout’s world, and make her a confident and compassionate global citizen, and the adult and girl members of Girl Scouts of Northern California seem to know it—the travel bug has bitten our council, hard. Between troop travel, council trips, and our Destinations programs, many more troops and girls than ever are traveling within the United States and around the world.

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Once a girl has decided that she wants to see the world, there are a lot of questions and concerns that need answering before parents can make a decision. If you’re “wondering” about what her travel experience will be like, here are the 7 most-asked questions about Girl Scout travel, and answers based on my years of experience traveling with girls and troops.

I wonder if she is ready to travel on her own without me on a troop trip, Destinations event, or council trip?

You probably already know the answer, as this is a decision that is up to each family. If your girl has never travelled before, it may be easier for her to travel with her troop. This way she has familiar adults traveling with her and she has her troop-mates for company. If she chooses to travel independently through a council trip, she will meet her travel group for the first time at the airport, but this too can be an awesome opportunity to make new friends! Destinations travelers are truly independent and responsible for arranging their transportation to the event location, but she’ll be met at the event by other Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors, as well as friendly Girl Scout staff. No matter what kind of travel she chooses, she’ll be supported throughout her trip.

Pro Tip: Want to learn more about the three kinds of Girl Scout travel? Check out my other article on The Trailhead!

I wonder if it is safe?

Like all Girl Scout activities, safe travel depends on how prepared everyone is prior to departure, regardless of where they are going. Although you can never guarantee that nothing will happen on a travel experience, being prepared for all kinds of events can make sure your girls stay safe in any scenario. Make sure your girl always carries emergency contact information for home and for the event coordinators, and know that you should be easily accessible while your daughter is traveling.

On top of that, the vendors for the council trips and Destinations have all been vetted and approved by GSUSA, and will provide their travel and safety information to both you and your girl prior to departure.

I wonder what she will be doing on her trip?

Regardless of where they are going or who is organizing the trip, girls should research the places they will be traveling to and learn what they will be doing before they leave for their trip. This way, everyone will know what the itinerary is and be better prepared for the activities. Keep in mind that daily activities have the girls busy from morning to night, so keeping contact to a minimum will help her focus on all the fantastic adventures she is having.

I wonder why she hasn’t contacted me?

Establish a way to communicate if you feel it is necessary, but don’t assume something is wrong if you don’t hear anything. Because schedules can change quickly and time zones may be different, it may be hard to connect with your girl. If you don’t hear from her while she is gone, for the most part, be assured that everything is fine. If there is an emergency at home, and you need to contact your daughter, please contact the group leader, council, or trip organizer first so they can help with the situation, and connect you with your daughter. If it is news that could wait until she gets home, please wait. Let her enjoy her travel time.

I wonder if she will miss me while she is away?

Of course she will! At some point everyone misses home, but I’ve found that the girls are so involved with the new sights and experiences they are taking in that they don’t realize it until it is almost time to come home—and that’s a great thing! This means she gets to be excited about her trip and be really excited to see you when you meet her at the airport, bus stop, or train station. But don’t worry, we’ve got homesickness cures covered. A mom of one of the girls who traveled with me a couple years ago asked if it would be okay for her daughter to ask for a “mom hug” if she was missing home. We ended up doing group hugs because all the girls wanted to be included!

I wonder what impact this experience will have on her?

Based on previous travel experiences with girls, I can honestly tell you that the girl who leaves on her adventure will not be the same one who comes home. Every trip affects girls differently, no matter if they traveled together in the same group or independently. Everything they see, do, and learn makes a major impact on them, and they discover new and exciting things about themselves along the way. Their eyes are opened to the world around them. The hardest part of coming home is saying goodbye… not just to the new friends made and new opportunities experienced, but to the person your girl was when she started the journey. This kind of transformation is a spark for adventure, one that will keep burning as long as they have the desire to keep traveling.

I wonder what adventures are in store for the future?

Your girl will have a great time travelling, and this will set her and her friends up for more adventures down the road. Will they continue to embrace the opportunity to see and do new things, make new friends, or develop a love for new places? Will they look for opportunities to help others through their experiences in the world? Will they come home with stories to share and dreams of future travel, ready to pack the bags and go again? Knowing Girl Scouts, the answer is “all of the above”.

So whether she’s travelling with new friends or old, across city, state, or country borders, by land, air, or sea, your Girl Scout is guaranteed to have a magical and transformative experience. I wonder where she will want to go next?

What to do next:

Sandy NormanSandy Norman—Sandy has been a Girl Scout since 5th grade, during which she lived in Naples, Italy. She has been an Extended Troop Travel learning facilitator for 18 years and has loved helping other leaders learn how to travel with their troops! Sandy has also been leading council trips since 2010 and enjoys sharing her travel knowledge with GSNorCal girls and adults.

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