Debunking the Myth: You CAN Save for Travel!

Contributed by Global Action Volunteer Team Member (GAVT) Maureen Ewing

Maureen Ewing is a Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts with 12 years as a girl member and over 25 years as an adult volunteer. Maureen studied abroad for a full academic year at Nottingham University in the UK and did graduate studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, where she earned her Master’s Degree. She currently serves on the Global Action Volunteer Team and co-led a Destination to India (check out the blog series here!) and the WAGGGS World Centre Sangam this summer. Maureen believes that her travel experience as a Girl Scout helped form her into the independent and curious traveler she is today (30 countries and counting)!

As a Global Action Volunteer member, she hopes to grow the conversations and travel opportunities available to girls in this council. She’s been kind enough to share some tips and tricks on how to make your travel dreams happen without breaking the bank. Read on for her exclusive advice on budgeting and saving for your next adventure!

Ballin’ On A Budget

Written by Maureen Ewing

Over the past two decades, I’ve talked to many girls and women about traveling. One of the first questions I receive is always, “How do you afford it?” My response is always: I save for it.

Daydreaming about travel is fun, but making it happen can feel daunting. Life happens and sometimes it feels difficult to carve out the time and money to travel. Yet, you want to see the world. Planning a trip well, working and saving for it, means that when you take the trip, you’ll appreciate every day and every dollar.

Step 1: Choose the Trip

You’ve been daydreaming about traveling to a specific place for a long time, and it’s time to make the dream a reality. Answer a few key questions:

  • When do you want to go?
  • How long do you want to go?
  • How much can you afford?

Once you have a goal, you can begin to make it a reality. How much time can you take off work or school? Do you need to schedule it around holiday schedules or other people’s schedules?

The more in advance you plan, the more you can take advantage of travel deals and discounts.

Step 2: Do Your Research

Go to the library and check out all the travel guides you can find about where you’re going (yes, books are still relevant and very useful). Choose books that give suggestions appropriate for your budget. Go online and read all articles and blogs from other travelers about the location where you want to travel. Follow travel sites and hashtags on social media to see what other travelers are doing!

Make a list of all the things you want to do. Dream big! You won’t do everything, but you’ll understand the possibilities. Doing pre-trip research builds excitement for the trip, and your trip will be even better for it!

Poll your friends and family for their tips on travel. What did they enjoy on their trips? What would they do differently?

Pro Girl Scout tip: Check out our blog on researching your travels as a Gen Z!

Step 3: Make a Budget

Use books and online resources to find out how much plane tickets cost, the range of accommodation prices, the sights you want to see.

Make a preliminary budget that takes into account the big expenses you’ve researched: flights (and baggage costs), travel insurance, accommodation, food, local transit, sightseeing, souvenirs, etc.

Prepare for the unexpected costs in your budget:

  • Do you need to make any pre-trip purchases like new clothes, a new backpack, a portable charger for your phone, a new camera, etc. ?
  • If you are going out of the country, will you need to use your phone, and if so, what does your company charge?
  • What immunizations do you need?
  • Do you have a passport or does it need to be renewed (your passport must be valid for 6 months after you return from your trip)?
  • Do you need a travel Visa to visit this country (a special application process to visit the country)?
  • How much baggage allowance do you get on your flight?

Add a little padding to the budget in case there’s something you don’t want to miss, or something unexpected happens, like you miss your train.

With a preliminary budget, you can set realistic expectations for how much money you need to save and how quickly (or slowly) you can manage it. You’ll also be ready to jump on a cheap plane ticket and other not-to-miss-early-bird opportunities.

Step 4: Plan a Savings Schedule

When you know your budget, plan out how much money you need to have saved before the trip. There will be some pre-trip expenses you will need to buy in advance like flights or accommodations or tickets to that can’t-miss-show. You might buy your flights eight to twelve months before you leave to take advantage of a great deal, and you should prepare for that in your savings schedule.

How much ready cash do you want to have with you and available when you travel? Some trips may give you easy access to use your credit or debit cards, but some trips may take you places where you’ll need to have cash on hand.

You might open a special savings account or a special checking account at a different bank, that you will use only for travel. You can squirrel away your money in this account so it is out-of-sight of your day to day expenses.

If it’s for a Girl Scout trip, you can look up money-earning options. Check out this blog post for money-earning ideas and these FAQs!

Here are a couple examples of savings schedules:

  • If you know your trip will cost $2,500 and you have 12 months to save up for it, that would be about $208/month. You can then begin to plan how to save that money each month. Can you cut back on your regular expenses to cover that amount, or do you need to be creative in your fundraising?
  • Let’s say you want to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland in August because you want to visit the various festivals, take tours into the countryside, and attend a Highland Games. This timing will affect your budget because it’s high season and in a city. If you plan early, you can get cheaper flights and better deals on accommodation. You might decide to stay in a hostel or Airbnb to save money for the experiences. Taxis and Ubers can add up, so research the local transit options (trains, buses, trams) and figure out how to get around the city.
  • Let’s say you want to travel to Paris, France, and you want to go during spring break! You’ve got a tighter $1,500 budget and only one week to travel. European cities can often be cheap to fly to in the off-season, such as spring, and you’ve been following sites that track flight prices for you. You’ve been saving for six months, so you’re able to buy that amazing deal as soon as it pops up. You have much more money in your budget now to do more, maybe even splurge a little on a hotel or a Bed and Breakfast.

Dream it. Plan it. Travel!

Traveling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. There is always a new place to go, new people to meet, beautiful experiences to be had. There is always a reason not to go but don’t let money stand in your way. Start saving now so when you’re ready to go, you’re ready!

On the Global Action Volunteer Team, we believe travel opens up our minds and hearts and gives us fresh perspectives. If you can dream it, you can plan it, and you can afford to travel.

Which way to adventure?

Saving up for a big trip can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. With hard work (and maybe the help of a travel scholarship) your day-dreams can become reality. Special thanks to Maureen for her super-helpful advice!

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is a council committed to providing incredible opportunities for girls to experience the world. Whether you’re going on a weekend trip to Milwaukee, or a two-week adventure in England, the Girl Scouts have your back.

Are you interested in providing unforgettable travel experiences to Girl Scouts? Find out what it takes to join the Global Action Volunteer Team!

For more advice from our Global Action Volunteer Team Members, check out their other guest blog posts:
Who We Are Part 1Who We Are Part 2|Why You Should Try Backpacking|Daydreaming About Travel|A WAGGGS Adventure in Mexico|Guide to Safety While Traveling Research travel as a Gen Z|Girl Scouts Will Travel (Maureen’s other featured guest post!)

Visit our travel page for more information on where we’re headed this year and the next.

Guide to Planning a Girl Scout Troop Trip to Savannah, GA, Part 2

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

Savannah, Georgia: the Hostess City of the South. The birthplace of the Girl Scouts of the United States, and of the Founder, Juliette Gordon Low. Savannah is an oasis on the coast. It is a special place for Girl Scouts–– not only is it naturally beautiful, but it is a city flooded with history.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) took some amazing advice from leaders in the council who recently traveled with their troops to Savannah! We featured the first half of their recommendations, and now, we are sharing more of their tips and tricks!

Check out part one of this blog series to learn about accommodations, the JGL Birthplace, Girl Scout perks, sightseeing, and travel to, from, and around Savannah.

What You Need to Know

  1. Restaurants
  2. Savannah Favorites
  3. Money-earning advice
  4. Additional tips

Restaurants

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

There are many restaurants in Savannah, and the leaders have shared with us their tried-and-true favorites!

Savannah Favorites

Here are the activities that left the best impression on the leaders and Girl Scouts during their visits to Savannah:

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, the home where JGL was born and raised, is an obvious Girl Scout favorite! This home offers guided tours, pinning ceremonies, and has a Girl Scout shop. Check out the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Birthplace website for more information.

Tybee Island

Tybee Island has plenty of awesome things to do! The leaders’ favorites included are hitting the beach and taking a dolphin tour (there are two to choose from: Captain Mike’s and Captain Derek’s).

Kayaking Trips

There are plenty of opportunities to kayak in Savannah around the coast and in the waters of Skidaway Island State Park. Check out Savannah Canoe and Kayak tours or Moon River Kayak!

Ghost Tours of Savannah

Thrill-seeking Girl Scouts will definitely enjoy a ghost tour of this haunted city, and because it is one of Savannah’s most popular activities, there are plenty of ways to do this! You can also embark on a dark and spooky evening on a haunted nighttime narrated carriage tour!

Old Fort Jackson

History buffs will appreciate the Civil War era activities and daily cannon firings at the National Historic Landmark Old Fort Jackson.

Historic Trolley Ride

Like ghost tours, historic trolley tours are a definite favorite of Savannah visitors, so there are many ways to hitch a ride around town.

Money Earning Advice

Leaders suggest:

  • Putting your Cookie and Fall Product revenues toward the trip
  • Referring to our Funding your Girl Scout Travels blog series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
  • Planning this trip well in advance and calculating everything!
  • Not forgetting about possible Girl Scout discounts for Girl Scout activities!

Additional Tips 

  • Use PBnJ Tours or a local travel agent to help plan your trip.
  • Make the trip as girl-led as possible; give the girls options and help them curate their own experience.
  • Make sure to fill out your trip & travel forms well in advance.
  • Wear matching shirts every day to keep track of your girls.
  • Make reservations early, especially if you’re traveling in the summer.
  • It is a hot place, so make sure to drink plenty of water!
  • Plan ahead for lots of activities, but be ready to take breaks when the girls need it.
  • Do your research!
  • Get patches to commemorate the experience (some can be found at the JGL Birthplace store).
  • If your accommodation doesn’t provide breakfast, try buying it yourselves at a local grocery store to save some money.

Southern Comfort from GCNWI

Please note that we aren’t endorsing these places, but passing along advice from others. All places should be further researched to see if they fit your needs and wants!

We would like to thank these leaders for their wonderful advice! Check out the first part of this blog series to learn about where to stay, what to do, and why!

Check out our travel page for more opportunities!

Guide to Planning a Girl Scout Troop Trip to Savannah, GA: Part 1

Birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low

Savannah, Georgia, is the birthplace of Girl Scouts in the United States. GSUSA Founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was born and raised in Savannah, and in 1912, she started the first ever Girl Scout troop. The city is swathed in green, and is a magical place for Girl Scouts of any age! This southern city is waiting for you to explore it!

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) surveyed leaders who recently led their troops to Savannah for their advice, trip tips and more. We are here to share them with you all with the hopes you will use them to plan your own Savannah adventure. We hope this resource helps you plan your trip to Savannah! Stay tuned for more information as we continue this blog series!

What You Need To Know

  1. Accommodations
  2. Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
  3. Girl Scout perks and fun Girl Scout activities
  4. Non-Girl Scout sightseeing
  5. Travel to/from Savannah
  6. Travel around Savannah

Accommodations

Camp Low

Leaders have suggested the following possible accommodations for your troop:

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

JGL Birthplace

The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is the home where JGL was born and raised. She held many Girl Scout meetings here, too! This home offers guided tours, pinning ceremonies, and has a Girl Scout shop. Here are some tips to make your visit a great one:

  1. Make sure to book your visit early, as it is a popular attraction.
  2. Plan your pinning ceremony prior to attending.
  3. Read up on JGL before visiting.
  4. Don’t forget to wear your Girl Scout gear!
  5. Bring spending money for the gift shop.
  6. Remember, even if you use a tour group, you have to book this visit yourself.
  7. They also offer classes and workshops, so book those early!
  8. There is a Girl Scout discount; email in advance to receive this.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Birthplace website for more information.

Girl Scout Perks and Activities

First Headquarters plaque

Being a Girl Scout is awesome. Being a Girl Scout while visiting Savannah is even more awesome! There are many interesting things to do:

Non-Girl Scout Sightseeing

Tybee Island beach

Apart from the Girl Scout-related landmarks, there is plenty of going on in the beautiful city of Savannah:

Traveling to and from Savannah

There are multiple options for traveling to Savannah.

  • Some leaders suggested driving a van or an SUV–- by having your own vehicle, you have easy access around Savannah. One leader rented a 12-passenger van!
  • There are very few direct flights to Savannah from Chicago, but while flying saves you time, it is more expensive. Be prepared to have a layover if you choose to fly.

Traveling around Savannah

If you choose not to have your own car, you can

  • Take the public buses around the city
  • Take the hop-on hop-off trolley tour
  • Walk!

Note that parking can be tricky around Savannah, and is rarely free.

Southern Hospitality from GCNWI

Please note that as a council, we aren’t endorsing these places, but passing along advice from others. All places should be further researched to see if they fit your needs and wants!

We would like to thank these leaders for their wonderful advice! Stay tuned for another blog post featuring the rest of their advice on where to eat, Savannah favorites, money earning, and more!

Check out our travel page for more opportunities!

Girl Scouts Will Travel: Wyoming to India

Written by Maureen Ewing, Global Action Volunteer Team member
Destinations India trip hosted by Girl Scouts GCNWI, where Maureen was a chaperone.

A Wide Opportunity

In 1986, I was a nervous 7th grade Girl Scout Cadette applying to attend my first Wider Opportunity (now called Destinations). I completed my application and found three references. On interview day, I put on my Girl Scout uniform, was driven to the Girl Scout office, and nervously answered questions about why I wanted to attend National Center West in Wyoming to ride horses for two weeks.

Seven months later, I was boarding a plane for the first time, and by myself, hugging (and probably while crying) my family as I walked through the gate.

Needless to say, I loved this trip. For the next five years, I attended five Girl Scout Wider Opportunities. In 1987 and 1988, I traveled to Wyoming to ride horses. In 1989, I went to Topeka, KS for a volleyball camp at the University of Kansas. In 1990, I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In 1991, I studied marine biology in San Francisco.

A GCNWI Girl Scout exploring Yellowstone National Park.

Foundations for Curiosity

Girl Scouts gave me the foundation for a curiosity about the world and a love of travel. As an adult, I studied abroad in England at the University of Nottingham, and earned my Master’s degree from Rhodes University in South Africa. I have visited 29 countries and have lifelong friends around the world.

I have volunteered with the Girl Scouts since I left high school. I was in Campus Scouts in college, assisted with a Girl Guide troop for a year while I studied in South Africa, volunteered at events, and in 2007, I took a group of girls to the WAGGGS World Centre in Switzerland.

Since 2012, I have been volunteering with GSGCNWI on the Global Action Volunteer Team. Our team works to make sure that girls learn about global issues, and we share our love of travel to help inspire girls to see the world. Girl Scouts can still apply to Destinations (formerly called Wider Opportunities when I was a girl) for travel all over the world. It is an especially important time for girls to stay connected and educated about issues that affect girls around the world.

Destinations India trip hosted by Girl Scouts GCNWI.

New Adventures

One of my bucket list items has always been to visit the WAGGGS World Centre, Sangam, in Pune, India. This summer, I finally had that chance as a chaperone on the Destination to India trip. Over a few weeks, we visited Pune, Delhi, and Agra, where the Taj Mahal is.

The trip was for the girls, but I was beyond excited to experience a new country (the 30th country I’ve visited!) as they did.

To Infinity, and Beyond

We would like to thank Maureen Ewing for sharing her story with us! We hope this inspires other girls not only to venture out into this great wide world, but to continue their relationship with the Girl Scouts throughout their lives!

Check out our other contributions from the Global Action Volunteer Team!
Who We Are Part 1 | Who We Are Part 2 | Why You Should Try Backpacking | Study Abroad |Adventure in Mexico|Safety While Traveling|Traveling as a Gen Z-er

Check out our Adventure in India blog series, written by the girls on the trip!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Learn more how you can travel with the Girl Scouts by visiting our travel web-page or emailing Ashley Christensen.

Take Your Next Adventure with Girl Scouts Destinations!

Destinations for summer 2020 and 2021 are now open!

Girl Scout Destinations are the ultimate adventures for individual Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador girls! With different trips every year, there’s something for everyone. Pack your bags full of life-changing experiences and make friends from all over the country as you travel with Girl Scouts from different states.

Destinations require an application and reference form. There are two application rounds:

  • Round 1 Applications/References due December 1
  • Round 2 Applications/References due February 15

Adventure Is Out There

One parent of twin Girl Scouts that went to a horseback riding camp said of the application process, “When they told people that they were accepted into the camp, they were certain to include an explanation of the application process. There was something about applying and being accepted that was quite exciting for them.”

Joining one of these trips takes an independent spirit and for girls that “love being on their own,” as one parent put it.

Emily Jones, Girl Scout Senior, says of her trip to the Channel Islands: “Going on the Channel Islands Destinations trip has inspired me to travel the world and explore what is out there for me to see. I want to see the world, not just from photos, but in person.”

“[My experiences here] inspired me to want to find a profession that helps people in poverty or those experiencing violence,” stated Molly Sheridan, Girl Scout Ambassador, who traveled on a Destination to India in summer 2019.

“My journey made me see the world differently,” said Aubri Matthews, Girl Scout Cadette, of her Destinations trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Girl Scout Senior, Danielle Knudson, says, “After my Destinations trip, I want to try new things that might scare me. I want to find new activities to challenge myself.”

Ready to go?

If you’re wondering how to afford all of this travel, don’t fret! Travel Scholarships are available for girls who have been accepted onto a Girl Scout Destination.

Apply to start your next adventure with Girl Scouts Destinations!

Check out our blog series: How to Fund Your Girl Scout Travels!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Check out our featured posts about our council’s most recent Destination trip to India summer 2019!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Choose Your Own Adventure 2019: A Winter Recap!

An unknown adventure awaited eight Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors on winter 2019’s Choose Your Own Adventure trip! 

What is Choose Your Own Adventure?

Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) is a girl-led trip, planned and executed by Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts. The girls can plan to venture to places like o Milwaukee, WI; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; or Starved Rock, IL! Or if they’d like they can keep it close to home with a Chicago adventure!

Whatever a group chooses to do, this is their own girl-led adventure where they will practice budgeting, planning and personalizing their own 3-day trip!

In January 2019, girls had multiple options of travel destinations to choose from for their voyage, but their plans were thwarted by a snowstorm. Together at Camp Greene Wood, the girls met for a night of bonding, planning, and budgeting for their Midwest 3-day trip. Then, they hit the road for their girl-led adventure!

Read on to hear a first-hand account of from our Girl Scouts regarding their Illinois journey.

Girl Scouts Make Do

By Kelsey, Megan, and Anya

We had a couple of options of places to travel to on the trip; however, the weather foiled our plans, so we decided to stay in Naperville. On Friday night, we stayed over at camp, bonded, planned our activities together and decided what we wanted to do over the weekend.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we started our adventure by going snow tubing at the Blackwell Forest Preserve. It was very cold, but we had a lot of fun! After we went tubing, we went back to camp to pick-up our belongings and finalize our plans. We went to downtown Naperville and enjoyed lunch at Everdine’s Grilled Cheese. Afterwards, we explored downtown and had fun shopping and eating cookie dough. At night, we went to the Chicago Premium Outlets to shop and eat dinner.

We had so much fun on our first day of travel on the 2019 Girl Scouts Choose Your Own Adventure Trip! And while it wasn’t the initial trip we had in mind, we made the most of our time and had a blast exploring parts of the Chicago-land area we hadn’t been to!

Lasers and Laughs

By Lucy, Ava, and Adelina

Our second day was eventful! We did so many exciting activities. After breakfast, the group challenged each other to a couple rounds of laser tag. We played arcade games in between rounds and met other players!

After having a blast at laser tag, we ate a delicious lunch at Gemato’s Wood Pit BBQ. At first, we planned to swim at the Vaughan Aquatic Center in the afternoon, but after thinking it through as a group, we decided to go bowling instead. The bowling alley was packed with tons of people, but we had so much more fun than we expected! For dinner after bowling, we headed back to the hotel and ordered food for a fun “dinner-in-bed.”

Our last activity of the day was a super fun escape room. Half of our group did an Indiana Jones themed room, which gave them quite a scare! The other half of the group did a Sherlock Holmes themed room, and they escaped with 32 seconds remaining! After the escape rooms, we treated ourselves to some sweets at Baskin Robbins. To end our fun-filled day, we drove back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

American Ninja Girl Scout

By Calla and Rain

We had a lovely third day together. After waking up and starting our day, we headed downstairs for breakfast. Then, we headed to a place called Urban Air, where we jumped on trampolines, and made our way through a ropes course and an obstacle course that reminded us of American Ninja Warrior.

Later, we had lunch at Portillo’s together. After we finished lunch, we went to a movie theater and watched the new movie called A Dog’s Way Home. Finally, we made our way back to camp, where we parted ways and said goodbyes, then headed home with our parents and guardians.

Aspire to Adventure!

The world is your playground; where will you explore today? Where will you dream of conquering tomorrow?

Girl Scouts offers many travel opportunities to help girls to aspire to adventure. Whether it’s overnight camping trips, international voyages, or troop stay-cations, Girl Scouts are expanding their horizons.

Stay tuned to find out more about future Choose Your Own Adventure trips, and find out how you can explore the world with Girl Scouts!

Ready to Choose Your Own Adventure? You can sign-up for CYOA: Midwest and CYOA: Chicago Style! There is also a CYOA Resource Guide you can also include if you want, so troops can plan their own CYOA trip!

A Quest in Colorado!

Summer is the perfect time to experience the wonders of the great outdoors. This summer, GCNWI had two groups of adventurous Girl Scouts from around the council set off for a journey of horseback riding, hiking, archery, ropes courses, zip lining, climbing walls, and much more!

One of those Girl Scouts, Peyton Haepp, has graciously shared her story with us about the June trip! Read on for her contribution, and learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

Colorado Adventures

Contribution By Peyton Haepp

On June 22, I flew to Colorado with my Girl Scout troop and lots of other Girl Scouts from our council. This was my first big Girl Scout trip and I was so excited! When we arrived in Denver, we got on a bus and drove about 2 hours to Granby, CO and arrived at the Snow Mountain Ranch. We saw lots of snow on our drive, which was funny because it was summer!

Snow Mountain Ranch was beautiful. There were mountains surrounding the resort. We spent most of our first full day at the ranch exploring all the exciting things they had to offer. We participated in many different activities, like swimming, skating, volleyball, craft cabin and archery. 

My favorite activity on the trip was whitewater rafting with MAD Adventures. It was my first time whitewater rafting, and I was a little nervous, but my friend Megan and I still volunteered to be the lead paddlers in the front of our raft. I loved when we hit rough waters and as leaders, we loved being challenged to take charge of a difficult part of the trip! We ended our day taking in the beautiful scenery and singing Girl Scout songs.

Horsin’ Around

June 26 was my 11th birthday! My friends decorated my room and sang “Happy Birthday” to me at breakfast and lunch. We did some of my favorite things on my birthday: swimming, roller skating, volleyball, going to the craft cabin, eating a steak dinner, and horseback riding. It was one of my best birthdays ever!

Rocky Mountain National Park was also fun. The views of the mountains and animals were beautiful. We saw some elk as soon as we arrived and later while we were exploring, we saw a moose close-up. We took pictures at the Continental Divide and also had a mini snowball fight. It was really cool that we were wearing shorts while there was so much snow.

The last full day of our trip, we went summer tubing. It was so much fun! The first time, I went down alone on a single tube. The next few times, I went in a double tube with my friends Megan and Isabella. It was awesome!

Colorado was such an amazing trip. I had so much fun with my friends and I became closer with some of the girls on the trip. I’m so glad I was able to participate in such an amazing adventure. We made so many memories and really bonded.

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who is considering it. The trip meant so much to me. I faced fears, experienced many new adventures, made new friends and became closer with old friends. I’m looking forward to my next travel opportunity with Girl Scouts!

Joining the Fun!

GCNWI will be offering the Colorado trip again in 2021. If you’re interested in joining the trip, email Ashley Christensen, our council’s Travel Program Manager at achristensen@girlscoutsgcnwi.org

We are so happy to share Peyton’s story with the council! Traveling with the Girl Scouts offers endless possibilities for excitement. The world is your oyster–– get out there!

Learn more about how to travel as a Girl Scout on our travel webpage!

Girl Scout Adventure in India: Part 2

Girl Scouts from across the US recently spent two weeks adventuring in the gorgeous cities of Pune, Delhi, and Mumbai, India to connect with their sister Girl Guides (WAGGGS) and Girl Scouts. On the second half of their journey, the girls met with international community partners, tried out “laughing yoga”, and visited the Taj Majal!

Read the second part of their trip below, and find out how you can travel with the Girl Scouts!

International Connections

The girls had the incredible opportunity to visit one of Sangam’s community partners, MAHER, an organization whose work spans across India and aims at providing support, resources, and homes for women, children, the elderly, and the mentally ill, especially those who are victims of violence. During their visit, they learned about MAHER’s efforts in family reunification and social services for the disadvantaged.

One of their most moving experiences in India was their visit to another community organization, a cafe called Sheroes run by survivors of acid attacks. During their visit, they watched a documentary about the survivors, and the girls chose to donate to the cafe to help their efforts stopping acid attacks and limiting accessibility to acid.

Though learning about systemic violence is challenging and discomforting, it is imperative to the development of Girl Scouts to educate themselves on issues like these. Through their contributions and their conversations with the people at Sheroes and MAHER, the girls gained a deeper comprehension of the injustices towards women and children globally. By meeting with these organizations, the girls became empowered to take action and make their own contributions to struggling populations in their local and global community.

Explorations and Education

The cross-cultural ties continued as the girls completed the Pune Leadership Challenge, exploring different parts of the city and completing an assortment of quiz questions. The girls later celebrated with an Indian afternoon: they learned how to tie Sarees, paint henna, and play Indian games. For dinner, they had an Indian wedding feast, and finished off the evening with a dancing class. By honoring and participating in these diverse cultural traditions, the Girl Scouts were able to see the links between their world and the world abroad.

Along with these different impactful experiences, the girls embarked on several adventures: water-tower climbing, “laughing yoga,” and visits to the biggest Mosque in India—Taj-ul-Masjid, a beautiful tomb, and an exquisite Sikh Gurudwara (a Sikh place of worship).

On their last full day of sightseeing, the girls started their four-hour voyage to Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located. They visited the Red Fort, a cultural landmark surrounded by a deep moat, holding a multitude of palace-like buildings influenced by Persian and Islamic architecture. The Red Fort was partially designed by the man who built the Taj Majal. Their next stop was the Mehtab Bagh (“Moonlit Garden”), where the girls took pictures in front of the close-up view of the Taj Mahal.

Finally, the girls made it to the Taj Mahal, where they explored the beautiful wonder of the world and took several hundreds of pictures.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

The girls are back home, and we are so happy to share their experiences and photos with the Girl Scouts of Chicago and Northwestern Indiana.

We hope by sharing stories like these that more girls will be encouraged to explore this giant, beautiful world. We hope Girl Scouts continue to practice cultural empathy and appreciation. More importantly, we hope girls become inspired to take action and make positive contributions to the world, whether in their own neighborhood, or places far, far away.

Learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

Read Part 1 of their India Adventure on the blog now!

Girl Scout Adventure in India: Part 1

This summer, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts from across the U.S. embarked on an incredibly exciting voyage across the sea to India to visit Sangam, a center affiliated with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). From unexpected bus mishaps and interacting with locals, to riding rickshaws, these Girl Scouts experienced an unforgettable journey; one, they want to share with you all!

Read the story of their India trip below, then learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

The First Days

After two days of bonding and exploring in Chicago, the group hopped on a 16-hour flight to Mumbai, something none of the girls had experienced before! Once they landed, the girls boarded a bus to take them to Sangam. Even after their long flight, their trip didn’t come without additional challenges. On the way there, they realized the road was closed, but, just like the resourceful Girl Scouts they are, the girls decided to ride rickshaws through the neighborhoods in Pune to their destination.

Upon arriving in Pune, they tasted delicious food, met and interacted with the locals, then visited ancient temples and a Punjabi fabric market. The Girl Scouts also practiced yoga, embroidery, painting, and explored the vibrant city around them. The girls met with local Nivedita Guides—local area Girl Guides—together, they sang and danced; teaching the WAGGGS Girls the “Cotton Eye Joe” line dance and in-turn learning a traditional Bollywood dance.

Serving a Community Internationally

After visiting holy temples in Alandi and Tulapur, the girls traveled to an organization called Ishwari—a Sangam community partner. The girls worked with Ishwari to help local women create crafts like embroidery, cards, and food, in order to make money to support their families.

Why Travel?

Experiences like these are so important for Girl Scouts, not only because they get to see different parts of the world, but different parts of humanity. International travel and cross-cultural exchange is good for the soul!

Learn how you can travel with Girl Scouts!

The journey continues: Part 2 coming soon!

Related Travel Blogs

Dreaming About Travel

Best Ways to Research Your Girl Scout Trip in the Mind of Gen Z

Why You Should Try Backpacking on Your Next Travel Adventure!

Fund Your Girl Scout Travels

A WAGGGS Adventure in Mexico

By Kim DeWitt, Global Action Volunteer

Kim (top left) and her troop.

In November 1975, I had the opportunity to visit Our Cabaña, one of the WAGGGS (Girl Scouts is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centers located in Cuernavaca, Mexico. My fellow Girl Scouts at Mitten Bay Council (now Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan) planned out trip to the center established in 1957, about 50 miles outside of Mexico City. We were incredibly excited to not only venture out of the United States, but also to have the opportunity to meet Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world. Although I don’t remember everything about the trip, it certainly was an experience of a lifetime and began a lifelong interest in travel! 

Planning for Mexico

We started planning the trip a year earlier using funds we gained from many money-earning activities. We sold crafts we had made at a number of craft fairs; I especially remember decoupage soap – think I may still have a bar somewhere! We also hosted Sarah Coventry jewelry parties. The estimated cost of the trip was $462 (about $2,000 today) and as a troop, we collectively worked hard to achieve our goal of traveling to Mexico. 

By the time we were ready to leave, I was a sophomore in high school. We had planned our trip to take place during the school year so we all got to miss school.

For most of us, it was our first airplane trip. We flew to Mexico City and visited a number of the tourist sites, including the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, meaning the “Place of Flowers”. One of the more memorable sites was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was amazing to watch some of the parishioners crawl on their knees on the cobbled stone to the entry of the Basilica as a means of giving thanks. 

Learn more about My Cabaña

Hello Our Cabaña!

Then we were off to Cuernavaca. I remember Our Cabaña as having many flowers and great food. Trying the local cuisine, like pigeon, was a new and exciting experience—also delicious. During our time at Our Cabaña we met Girl Guides from other parts of the world including Mexico and El Salvador. We also volunteered at an orphanage. And we visited the city of Taxco, a city heavily associated with silver. We all bought souvenirs to take back home.

At the time, a trip to Mexico was quite unusual and we were in the newspaper several times before and after the trip. Back in 1975, it wasn’t that common to take an airplane trip out of the country (or in the US for that matter) especially for high school students. The fact that we were going to Mexico was a big deal especially in our smaller council in Michigan.  Amazingly, I had saved most of the mementos from the trip in a travel bag we received from the airline – a trip that truly was the experience of a lifetime. 

I encourage EVERY Girl Scout to travel to a new place with their troop or even on their own. Girl Scouts of GCNWI has amazing travel opportunities both nationally and internationally, and Girl Scouts USA has Destinations!—for those individual adventure seekers!

Kim and her fellow Cadettes at My Cabaña 1975

Travel with Girl Scouts

Learn more about the WAGGGS World Centres here, and more about how you can visit Our Cabana here.

GSGCNWI hosted a trip to Our Cabana in 2017; see more about our trip here.

Check out the GCNWI travel page for more information on how to plan your own trip or join a council-sponsored trip!