Trip Planning

Whether it is a trip across town, across your state, across the country, or across an ocean, basic trip planning is an important skill for the girls to learn. Remember that the most memorable trips are those in which the girls are the major decision makers for the trip. The current Junior Girl Scout Handbook has a good piece called T.A.P (Travel Action Plan) which can be utilized for any type of trip. The basic steps are outlined below:

  1. Brainstorm where you would like to go
  2. Decide where you will go
  3. Find out more about the place you would like to visit
  4. Prepare a trip budget
  5. Review Safety-Wise
  6. Develop a packing list for clothing and equipment needed
  7. Study maps of the area and develop a more detailed itinerary of how to get where and when
  8. Put your plans into action!

    And I will add another step:
  9. Evaluate your trip to help you on future trips!

Many councils have guidelines of who can travel where. This reflects the fact that progression is also a part of travel. For example, your Council may allow a Junior Girl Scout troop to travel say, across the state, but if these girls have never even been away from home before for even a simple overnight, this would not be a good plan. A typical progression for troop trips might be as follows (note that program levels are indicated but girls new to travel should start at the beginning regardless of what program level they are in):

  1. .A meeting time trip within your town
  2. .An all day trip within your town
  3. A one night overnight trip within your town.
  4. A day trip to a location outside your town but within a couple of hours of home
  5. A local weekend camping trip
  6. A long weekend trip (3-4 days) within your state boundaries
  7. Extended trips (1-2 weeks) within the continental U.S.
  8. Extended length trips including International travel

Check with your local council for their restrictions before approaching the girls with any travel plans. Most Councils also have a process in place for approving travel for troops so make sure you know what forms, permissions, etc. need to be obtained before attempting to travel.

To ensure a girl's readiness to participate in a long trip, a Statement of Commitment signed by the parent and the girl can be used. This should detail your expectations regarding the trip, finances, cancellations, as well as the girl's behavior. A sample Statement of Commitment is included here.

Brainstorm where you want to go

The first step in any trip is figuring out what the girls are interested in doing. The easiest means to do this, and one in which everyone's ideas are included, is called brainstorming. It is a common technique to accumulate many ideas in a short amount of time. One person is chosen as recorder (to record the items on paper or a board). One person is chosen as moderator (this is often the leader for younger girls). Once the topic is chosen to brainstorm (such as ideas of places to go), the moderator asks for ideas. Following are some guidelines:

Decide where you will go

Before deciding where to go, it is important to come up with a purpose for the trip. Is it just a fun day out? Are you working toward any recognitions that the trip would help you with? Are the girls interested in expanding their horizons with a new activity? Do they want to get a feeling for the Girl Scout roots? Any of these (and there are many more) would be appropriate purposes for going on a troop trip.

From the ideas arrived at through brainstorming, the girls are ready to make their decision. Sometimes it is helpful to list the pros and cons of each location to help the girls evaluate which they would like to do. Ask questions such as the following:

This might require some extra research before the final decision is made.

Try inviting someone who has been to the places you are contemplating to a troop meeting to tell about her trip. This is especially helpful if you are contemplating an extended trip to visit perhaps a World Centre or even Juliette Low's Birthplace. There is nothing that builds enthusiasm like other girls who have done what it is you are thinking about doing.

When all of the data is compiled, discuss the choices and then vote.

Find out more about the place you would like to visit

Some research may be done in the decision making process but after a location is agreed upon it is important for the girls to learn about the place they will visit. Girls can write to the local visitor's bureau or a Chamber of Commerce if they are visiting a city. National and State parks many times will send brochures if requested. Commercial tour books may also prove useful. And again, don't forget the ever important personal experience - if you haven't had someone in to talk yet, invite someone who knows about your destination!

Obtain maps of the areas you would like to visit. The advantage of this is twofold:

  1. Girls can learn valuable skills like navigation and map reading
  2. You are able to plan your itinerary better if you have a general idea of where things are located in relation to each other.

Prepare a trip budget

Many adults find this subject intimidating, let alone the girls! To get the girls thinking about all of the things that cost money on your trip, try the following first:

The Muffin Is Ready

Have the girls in teams brainstorm all of the things that go into making a muffin. For example, preheat oven, get out pans, shop for ingredients, etc.. Have each team write each step on a 3x5 card. Give each team a card that says "the Muffin is ready".Then, ask them to put their steps in order with "the Muffin is ready" being the last one.

Verbally ask for the steps and have each group volunteer. If a step is missed by one or both of the teams, ask "What about....?" Do this until all of the steps have been covered and the muffin is actually ready.

This exercise stresses the need to think of details. You can use this for any time you want the girls to be more organized in their thinking.

Now, have the girls list all of the components of the trip that will cost money (transportation, food, lodging, etc.). A Budget Worksheet may prove useful. The girls can cross out the items that don't apply. Next, they can estimate the cost of these items. A tour book may be necessary for entrance fees. A local coffee shop menu may help with food costs. If driving, a good lesson for the girls in math is to figure the cost of driving given the miles, the estimated miles per gallon for the vehicle used, and the cost for a gallon of gas. When all this is compiled, the girls will have completed their budget.

It is always a good idea to include a contingency amount in your budget. What if you get a flat tire on the way? What if the tour prices you were quoted were not quite accurate and you need to come up with some extra money? What if a girl gets sick? This is exactly what the contingency amount is designed to cover. Some people call it a slush fund. Whatever you call it, it makes life simpler in the case of an unexpected occurrence. A good rule of thumb is 10% of the overall budget. (A contingency for short day trips may not be necessary).

Budget FAQ

  1. Must the girls cover the adult costs for the trip (i.e., do the adults go free?)
    This is something you may want to discuss with your Council since it is often looked at differently in different Councils. There are two schools of thought. One is that the adults are required for the trip and therefore the girls should cover the adult cost in their budget. This may work if there are only the minimum number of adults going but what happens when there are additional adults? The other school of thought is that the adults are participating in the trip as well and the girls should not have to pay for their trip. Some people find that splitting the difference is what works for them - i.e., a portion of the adult's fee is paid for by the troop and the remaining portion is paid by that adult. Again, make sure you check with your Council for any policies that may be in place locally.
  2. What is a reasonable figure per day for meals?
    This depends entirely on whether it is figured for coffee shop/restaurant eating, fast food, or make it yourself. At $3 for breakfast, $5 for lunch, and $10 for dinner, you can generally eat at a modest restaurant. Special meals would generally not be covered at this price. I generally use $20-$25/day for food for teenagers (obviously younger girls would probably need less) if restaurant eating is anticipated.

Review Safety-Wise

As early as Junior age, the girls can start researching Safety-Wise themselves. All levels should be aware that permission slips are required of everyone for any trip. Sections are also provided in Safety-Wise for extended travel including trip camping and International travel. These sections should be reviewed where appropriate.

Develop a packing list for clothing and equipment needed

Once you decide where you are going and what your general activities will be you will be able to plan what clothing and equipment are needed. Be sure you consider the weather when choosing your clothing (layering being the best for travel). Here are some things to consider when packing for a trip:

  1. Pack light - remember that you will have to carry whatever you bring and you should bring only what is necessary.
  2. Remember to leave valuables at home.
  3. Label your luggage inside and out with your name and address.
  4. Bring the appropriate type of luggage for the type of trip (i.e., a duffel is more appropriate for camping whereas a travel pack or suitcase with wheels might prove more appropriate for an extended travel experience.)
  5. Pack liquids in plastic bottles and place in resealable plastic bags. Never fill them to the brim when air traveling.
  6. Make sure appropriate identification is carried. (check with your Council for their requirements regarding identification)
  7. When traveling with a group, make sure that each individual has all of their belongings clearly marked with their name. This is especially important for any matching attire.
  8. Practice packing before the trip. For younger girls, make sure that they also help pack their bags since it is they, and not their parents, who must find things as well as repack while on the trip.

Study maps of the area and develop a more detailed itinerary of how to get where and when

By studying maps, the girls can get a relative idea of where things are where they are going. This helps tremendously when trying to develop a more detailed itinerary. By taking preliminary trips walking (even if it is just around the neighborhood), the girls can get an idea of how long it might take to walk from Point A to Point B. If you will be using public transportation at your destination (buses, subways, etc.) try using that form of transportation locally to get an idea of how long that takes. this helps them when deciding on what to include in a day's itinerary. Make sure that adequate time is planned for resting as well. If everyone is tired, they will not enjoy the trip as well. Don't forget to bring copies of your itinerary as well as you maps when you travel. And make sure that the girls have practiced reading the map too!

Put your plans into action

Putting your plans into action includes making sure that all the reservations have been made, that everyone has done all of the preparation steps to be ready to travel, and that all items in the itinerary have been verified and re-checked.



Evaluate your trip to help you on future trips!

Evaluation can be a useful tool to aid on future endeavors. Ask the girls what was their favorite part of the trip - their least favorite. Ask them also what things they would change next time and why. Answers to these types of questions will aid you tremendously when planning your next trip.

For pointers on specific trips, try the following sites:

To Leader's Landing

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