Traveling abroad is a great way to learn about other cultures. For more than 60 years, Girl Scouts of the USA has offered girls international travel opportunities. Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low, a prolific traveler herself, provided financial assistance so that girls and young women from around the globe could attend world conferences. Her dedication to international understanding and travel inspired the creation of the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.
International travel gives girls the chance to make new friends, build leadership skills, and share ideas with women and girls globally. Every year Girl Scouts venture to international events through Girl Scout destinations (formerly called Wider Opportunities) a travel program for girls ages 14-17 (council sponsored trips may carry different age requirements). Contact your local Girl Scout council to find out how to apply or volunteer for destinations.
International Travel Safety
It is up to individual councils, girls, and parents/guardians to realistically assess each situation based on travel dates, comfort level, and current safety information. Girl Scouts of the USA relies on the United States Department of State for travel advisories and notifies councils about advisories to destinations.
- Submit Intent to Travel Form three to six months prior to travel.
- Travel insurance can be purchased from Mutual of Omaha. International Plan 3PI provides insurance for accident and sickness and travel assistance services.
- Consider buying travel insurance in case of flight cancellation, delays, or date changes.
- Register your group with the U.S. embassy in countries you plan to visit, provide a list of names and group itinerary.
- Research the country before visiting. Be prepared to experience cultural differences, local political considerations, and language barriers.
- Create an emergency plan with a phone tree for back home contacts and in-country contacts (e.g., number for the U.S. embassy, American Express, Red Cross), and a "lost plan" for each location you visit in case any group members get separated.
- Carry international calling cards that you can purchase in local shops, or buy a SIM card from a local phone service provider that you insert into your unlocked cell phone. U.S. cell phones must use the GSM standard to be able to work overseas, contact your phone provider to find out before you go.
- Adult chaperones bring:
- Two individually signed and notarized Permission to Travel with Minor forms for each girl signed by both parents (or guardians). If a single parent or guardian has custody, attach documentation stating the minor is in the sole custody of the signer of the Permission to Travel with Minor form.
- Health forms and insurance information and emergency contact information.
- First-aid kit including items such as Benadryl, Tylenol, anti-diarrhea medicine, stomach upsets and motion sickness medicines. Parents/guardians must indicate on the health forms which over-the-counter drugs girls are permitted to take.
- Medication for girls, unless a girl has physician or parental note to carry her own. This authorization may be needed in situations where home hospitality is given and the girl is away from the first-aider.
- Girls carry:
- A copy of her health form and insurance information.
- A copy of the group itinerary with all contact numbers.
- Citizenship documents or documentation of her legal status to reenter the United States. Check U.S. State Department for requirements for individual countries entry requirements.
- An international calling card.
- Personal medications to be administered in case of emergency, such as bee sting kits, asthma inhalers, etc. (Girls need a doctor's note to keep the medication with her at all times.)
- Before the trip, get everyone connected via social media so that the girls can get to know each other and share information about their destination. Include an adult who can answer questions.
- Discuss ways to be respectful and tolerant of other opinions and cultures.
- Write up an agreement of acceptable behavior, developed jointly by girls and adults, that everyone promises to abide by.
- Be sure a council contact is included in the notification plan in case of an emergency.
- Remember that the safety and security of girls and adults is your top priority.