Stories from our travelers

Traveling has a huge impact on Girl Scouts—but don’t just take our word for it. Read on to hear a few stories directly from our travelers. 

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Priya makes lasting connections in Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica was the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. I saw what can be thought to be the “unreal,” tasted things I didn’t even know were edible, and met people with an entirely different lifestyle.

Although the entire trip was a blast, the most impactful part for me was visiting the different schools and donating to the children...

 

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Priya makes lasting connections in Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica was the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. I saw what can be thought to be the “unreal,” tasted things I didn’t even know were edible, and met people with an entirely different lifestyle.

Although the entire trip was a blast, the most impactful part for me was visiting the different schools and donating to the children. Their innocence and kind-heartedness really made me put life in a different perspective. Many of the customs in Costa Rica were new to me and I had to get used to them. However, when I stepped foot on the school grounds, I immediately felt at home.

The first school we visited was a middle and high school. The students were beyond friendly. They told us about their studies, and we even taught each other a few words from our native languages. Because they were older, we were able to connect and relate to certain things. It was really nice to make a friend from a different country that I still remain in contact with today. It was so hard to say goodbye and I wish we didn’t have to leave.

The second school we visited was an elementary school. The kids were so adorable and warmhearted. They knew such little English, but they tried their best and that was all I could ask for. We each were partnered with a student, and I was chosen by a first grader named Victoria. I had taken Spanish classes for a while but I was nowhere near fluent, and although she was pretty advanced with English, the phrase “no te entiendo” (I do not understand you) was used a lot.

Speaking two different languages did not stop us from building a wonderful connection. Victoria loved school and her favorite subjects were math and science, which are mine too. Believe it or not, she reminded me a lot of myself: quiet at first, but extremely outgoing once you got to know her.

The elementary school wasn’t big and didn’t have the luxuries that we consider basic necessities here in America, such as new workbooks. Even though she is half my age, Victoria taught me something. She taught me that just because you don’t have everything, that doesn’t mean you can’t do everything. She may not remember me, but I will always remember Victoria and I will think of her every time I travel to a new place.

If I could go back and re-do the entire experience, I would without hesitation. If I could change anything, I’d thank Victoria for taking my hand and opening my eyes to what I see as a whole new world. 

 

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Troop Leaders Amy and Darcy empower their girls to take the lead

Amy and Darcy, co-Troop Leaders from Texas, always encourage their Girl Scouts to forge their own paths. So, when the troop expressed interest in going abroad, the women were determined to give their girls this opportunity, and to empower them to take the lead every step of the way...

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Troop Leaders Amy and Darcy empower their girls to take the lead

Amy and Darcy, co-Troop Leaders from Texas, always encourage their Girl Scouts to forge their own paths. So, when the troop expressed interest in going abroad, the women were determined to give their girls this opportunity, and to empower them to take the lead every step of the way.

To get things started, Amy and Darcy opened up the tour to their service unit. From there, they stepped back and let the girls dive in, organizing a vote to choose the destination and planning creative money-earning activities.

Their first money-earning idea stemmed from the girls’ love of Harry Potter: they wrote, designed, and delivered personalized Hogwarts acceptance letters to other students. Their idea was a huge success. They sold tons of letters—using social media to get the word out—and continued to gain orders for close to a year and a half.

Then, after realizing the demand for creative Harry Potter-themed gifts, the girls decided to plan an entire Hogwarts-inspired end-of-term feast. From Quidditch trials to potions classes, dueling lessons to Harry Potter trivia, the feast encompassed a full evening’s worth of activities.

Once abroad, the girls continued to take the lead. As a group, they decided where to eat and visit during free time. Adults were welcome to join, but they couldn’t influence the girls’ choices. Likewise, if a small problem or discrepancy arose, Amy left it up to the girls to figure it out. She knew this tour was an opportunity for them to grow and practice their independence.

“The girls got everything ready,” Amy explains. “And they ran the whole thing once we were there.”

By the end of the trip, Amy and Darcy had seen a marked growth in the girls’ confidence and their readiness to take on the world. Plus, many of them expressed excitement about studying abroad in college—a goal that had stemmed from this experience. And, while Amy and Darcy hope their older daughters continue to travel on their own, they have no intention of stopping their own adventures. They’re already planning tours to Belize and Peru for Darcy’s other troops—and from there, the options are limitless.

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Desiree’s whirlwind European adventure

Summer of 2017 marked a significant milestone for my Girl Scout Troop: our journey from London to Lucerne. Throughout our junior high years, we turned our childhood dream into a plan. We put our business skills to the test, saving up enough cookie and fundraiser money to help make our dream of travel possible for our senior year...

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Desiree’s whirlwind European adventure

Summer of 2017 marked a significant milestone for my Girl Scout Troop: our journey from London to Lucerne. Throughout our junior high years, we turned our childhood dream into a plan. We put our business skills to the test, saving up enough cookie and fundraiser money to help make our dream of travel possible for our senior year.

While abroad, we met amazing people from other Girl Scout troops from different states. Plus, our Tour Directors Roxy and Betsy made this trip an unforgettable experience for us!

Our first stop was London. Staring right up at Big Ben was so incredible and the London Eye was an attraction that cannot be missed. A boat ride on the Thames River cruise allowed us to see many different historic and famous buildings such as the Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel. An exciting moment for us was being present at Windsor Castle at the same time as Queen Elizabeth. We also enjoyed watching the guards marching up and down the castles, as well as the band walking along the roads. It was amazing to have been present in the same venue where so many historic royal events took place.

We then took the Eurostar train from London to Paris. The most beautiful iconic structure of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, was visible from almost everywhere in the city. A fun visit to Disneyland had us feeling like kids again, and standing on Point Zero, the stone that represents the very center of Paris, was just as exciting. We even got to visit the Palace of Versailles!

And talk about saving the best for last—our trip ended in Switzerland! The view from the hotel room was perfect and we woke up every morning listening to the goats and seeing the peaceful scenery of the mountains surrounding the valley—it felt like a fairytale. Our adventure hike to Our Chalet WAGGGS was a great way to appreciate nature. We also had the opportunity to visit Lucerne, another beautiful city that’s located on the lake and has awesome mountains in the background. There was some kind of festival or celebration in which we got to immerse ourselves with modern music, friendly people, and a variety of food and culture from all around the world. Not to mention, they really do have the best chocolates in the world! But, time flies when you are having fun, and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and fly back home.

London to Lucerne was truly a wonderful trip! We got to see so many historical and beautiful sights in what felt like such a short time. The whole experience was amazing, from our Tour Director to the lasting bonds we created together. This trip made me realize that there is more to the world than what we hear about. To travel is to live.

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Madelyn discovers a new perspective

My experience in Peru was much more than a vacation. I did a fair amount of sightseeing and shopping, but I also pushed my boundaries and stretched my comfort zone far more than I expected...

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Madelyn discovers a new perspective

My experience in Peru was much more than a vacation. I did a fair amount of sightseeing and shopping, but I also pushed my boundaries and stretched my comfort zone far more than I expected.

On our third to last day in Peru, my group was hiking through the Amazon rainforest with our guide, Victor. About an hour in, he stopped, picked up a large nut and cracked it open with a machete. Inside were four plump, wriggling larvae. He explained that the locals often eat these as snacks, and asked our group if anyone wanted to eat one. At this point in the trip, I had already tasted guinea pig and hiked to Machu Picchu, but I can’t say that the thought of eating live beetle larvae didn’t faze me. After a moment of thinking though, I concluded that I had nothing to lose; I might as well try it.

So, I nervously said yes. I held the larvae between my finger and thumb and, once everyone had gotten their camera out, quickly popped it in my mouth. Immediately the skin of the beetle popped and liquid filled my mouth. It tasted like almond and coconut water and I wanted another one.

While this experience did not completely change my perspective of the world, it did shift my view on how to travel. I realized that to truly experience another culture, you must let your guard down and suspend judgement. In the United States, eating guinea pig and live beetle larvae is considered gross, but in Peru, it is simply part of life.

Throughout my tour, I was presented with opportunities to grow. I played soccer with local children, chatted with rural Peruvians in Spanish, and bartered for food in markets—but it was up to me to seize those moments and learn from them. While I would have also enjoyed simply going to the national monuments and museums, I learned so much through connecting with the local people and making an effort to understand and embrace their culture.

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Cassandra's trip of "first" (but not "lasts")

After traveling to Ecuador this summer, I am no longer afraid to step outside my comfort zone. Before this trip, I wasn’t the type of person to be daring and try new things. I would’ve never thought that it would come to the point where I would be willing to try new foods in a foreign country.

During our trip in Ecuador, a local delicacy, guinea pig, was brought up a few times. When it was mentioned I would think, “no, that just isn’t for me.” But when the guinea pig was offered to me, I found myself trying it...

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Cassandra’s trip of “firsts” (but not “lasts”)

After traveling to Ecuador this summer, I am no longer afraid to step outside my comfort zone. Before this trip, I wasn’t the type of person to be daring and try new things. I would’ve never thought that it would come to the point where I would be willing to try new foods in a foreign country.

During our trip in Ecuador, a local delicacy, guinea pig, was brought up a few times. When it was mentioned I would think, “no, that just isn’t for me.” But when the guinea pig was offered to me, I found myself trying it.

I have been taking Spanish classes for over ten years. I knew when registering for the trip that Ecuador’s primary language was Spanish, but we would have our Tour Directors help us with any communication. I was hesitant to try to speak with people in Spanish because I was afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. When not communicating inside of my group, I found myself using more and more Spanish as the trip went on. I even got to play games and talk with some of the locals during my trip.

Before this trip I hadn’t gone snorkeling. When given the opportunity to try snorkeling, I was beyond excited. The only problem was that there were some black sea urchins at the bottom so I could not put my feet down. This small fact made me hesitant to try it, but I knew that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t let pass me by. I snorkeled and saw so many beautiful creatures. We were able to swim with sea lions, a sea turtle, a ray, and many varieties of fish.

Before this trip, I had never seen an active volcano, walked on the equator, or felt the gravitation pull. I am glad to have made these amazing memories and to have stepped outside of my comfort zone.

 

 

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Kamryn learns how to make the most out of every journey

How would you like to go on a trip halfway around the world, with a whole bunch of strangers, and be in a country where they possibly don’t even speak your language? I know, it sounds pretty scary. Well, let me tell you something: My tour was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I was lucky enough to go on a trip and embark on a journey that so many people may never have the chance to discover. I learned about new cultures, history, and a life outside of my own, without the boring classroom. I saw sights ranging from the Eiffel Tower to the amazing Mona Lisa.

Now, this seems a bit more interesting, doesn’t it? But before you become an outstanding globetrotter, let me give you a few tips...

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Kamryn learns how to make the most out of every journey

How would you like to go on a trip halfway around the world, with a whole bunch of strangers, and be in a country where they possibly don’t even speak your language? I know, it sounds pretty scary. Well, let me tell you something: My tour was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I was lucky enough to go on a trip and embark on a journey that so many people may never have the chance to discover. I learned about new cultures, history, and a life outside of my own, without the boring classroom. I saw sights ranging from the Eiffel Tower to the amazing Mona Lisa. Now, this seems a bit more interesting, doesn’t it? But before you become an outstanding globetrotter, let me give you a few tips.

 

1. Go with the flow

Plans can’t predict the future. These trips take at least 6 months to plan. But, even after the extensive amount of work put into the agenda, there’s almost always an unexpected change of plans. There could be a safety hazard, a public transportation system could shut down, or a location could close due to a recent event. Your Tour Director is a pro and they will always have a plan B. The last thing you want is to have a bump in the road become the reason for a meltdown. Did I say keep calm and carry on? Yes!

 

2. Always be prepared

“Always be prepared” is the Girl Scout motto. And you are definitely a Girl Scout, so travel like one! You should always pack what you need now and what you will need later. Keep these basic preparations in mind:

  • Charge your electronics. 
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. 
  • Prep outfits the night before. 
  • Bring toiletries with you for extra-long days. 

 

3. Try new things!

You are taking a journey that people can only dream of. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to see Big Ben in London or the Sydney Opera House in Australia, one thing you must do is try, try, and try some more. The worst feeling is coming back home knowing that you possibly squandered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Try new foods, try new traditions, and learn something that you will you use for the rest of your life.

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Shannon discovers the importance of global citizenship

On my trip to Germany, I was amazed by the number of things I learned. From the people to the multitude of exciting foods, the breathtaking nature to the historic monuments, it opened my eyes to the amazing world around me.

Reading about it just couldn’t do it justice—it could never compare to being in the moment and experiencing it for myself. Because of my experiences and the fact that I was pushed out of my comfort zone, I gained newfound confidence in myself and my abilities...

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Shannon discovers the importance of global citizenship

On my trip to Germany, I was amazed by the number of things I learned. From the people to the multitude of exciting foods, the breathtaking nature to the historic monuments, it opened my eyes to the amazing world around me.

Reading about it just couldn’t do it justice—it could never compare to being in the moment and experiencing it for myself. Because of my experiences and the fact that I was pushed out of my comfort zone, I gained newfound confidence in myself and my abilities.

Something I’ve realized through my trip is that our world is shrinking; we have a global economy, and international travel is essential to helping girls realize all the opportunities available to them. It’s necessary to see how they can fit into the world around them. Even if they never choose to live or work outside of the United States, experiencing other cultures through international travel can make them unique in their own career within the U.S. It allows them to see how problems we face are addressed in other countries, giving them the knowledge to view local issues with a new worldly perspective and with new solutions.

For example, to reduce the amount of emissions from cars in large German cities, there are bike paths everywhere, and the bike routes are actually made to be quicker than driving a car due to the lack of traffic and stoplights. In Freiburg, I was amazed by the amount of recycling—because the citizens separate their trash and waste daily into several groups, they’re able to reduce the amount of waste that gets incinerated and increase the amount that gets recycled or reused.

Furthermore, international travel allows young people to find commonalities with others around them, no matter their age or location. They can share their experiences with one another from around the globe and grow closer as a result. It makes them more interesting individuals and allows them to connect with more people. Because of my travel experience, I now view social media in a different light; it’s a necessary tool to connect people. In fact, I’m now able to stay in touch through social media with girls living in the U.K. whom we had met while visiting Our Chalet.

International travel allows a person to dream bigger than they had before. It allows them to set bolder goals and work towards them with a newfound passion. I admit, it made me appreciate a lot of things we take for granted in the U.S., such as free public restrooms, but it certainly increased my desire to learn more and seek out similar experiences. I’m so glad I had this experience, and I highly recommend that other girls push their limits and take the leap to travel internationally. I know that if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity and the knowledge and friends I gained from it.

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Lily’s life-changing experience in Germany

Going to Germany was a dream come true. Really, I've been wanting to go to Germany since I knew I could fly across the Atlantic Ocean. When I was given the opportunity to go on the first Girl Scout STEM tour, I immediately took it. Traveling the world, seeing international STEM advancements, and making new friends? Those are all some of my favorite things.

Everyone on the trip was so kind and caring; it felt like a small family. Coming from a relatively small council and an extremely tight-knit troop, it was surreal to meet all these new people...

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Lily’s life-changing experience in Germany

Going to Germany was a dream come true. Really, I've been wanting to go to Germany since I knew I could fly across the Atlantic Ocean. When I was given the opportunity to go on the first Girl Scout STEM tour, I immediately took it. Traveling the world, seeing international STEM advancements, and making new friends? Those are all some of my favorite things.

Everyone on the trip was so kind and caring; it felt like a small family. Coming from a relatively small council and an extremely tight-knit troop, it was surreal to meet all these new people.

My favorite part was when we could go off for lunch in the city, relaxing and just spending time with each other. I think my favorite part was going to the Biosphere in Entlebuch, Switzerland. There were so many different things we did there: we walked on a bog, inspected carnivorous plants that were similar to Venus flytraps, and walked through mud made out of the same thing that retained water under the bog. We also got very close to animals that most of us had never seen in real life before, such as cows, chickens, lambs, and pigs. We were all so excited to see them that we just couldn't help but squeal a little bit. I may sound like I'm joking, but really, we were squealing, and I'm sure it was very loud.

It wasn't just the girls that made the trip great, or even the fact that we were touring Germany. I learned Group Leaders and Tour Directors are a big part of what can influence the tour. Luckily, I had some of the best Group Leaders ever. They were from my council, so I'm a little biased because I knew them from personal experiences and other EF tours. An EF representative also came with us. Her name is Kayden, and she's one of the coolest people I've ever met. We had met up with her in Boston's airport when the entire group met in Boston as a gateway. We toured the EF North American headquarters with her, and it gave us all a chance to see how EF Girl Scouts works. I always wanted a career in traveling and/or global studies, and as I learned more about the jobs at EF, I realized that people who work at EF have my dream job.

It was amazing to be able to experience what I have, and I'm truly grateful for all of it. I'm only thirteen, and I've only just recently become a freshman, so it's really cool to be able to say I've crossed something this major off of my bucket list. I think everybody should go somewhere new when they have the chance, it's a life-changing experience.

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Kaitlyn’s journey from unsure to unstoppable

I used to describe myself in three words: weak, hopeless, and unsure. I lived with social anxiety for almost all of my life. It is a crippling mental disability I had trapped inside of me. When I heard I would be in another country I was terrified. It felt almost unreal. How could I go in another country when I have fear just ordering food or even standing in a crowd?

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Kaitlyn’s journey from unsure to unstoppable

I used to describe myself in three words: weak, hopeless, and unsure. I lived with social anxiety for almost all of my life. It is a crippling mental disability I had trapped inside of me. When I heard I would be in another country I was terrified. It felt almost unreal. How could I go in another country when I have fear just ordering food or even standing in a crowd?

When I stepped off the plane into a foreign land, it was hard at first. But soon I became independent! I showed a lot of courage that I have never seen in myself before! I made new friends on this trip, had new laughs, and even saw the generosity of strangers from different parts of the world. The stereotypes I learned in America became untrue as I opened myself up more and more to new cultures. Ever since I came back home, I am proud to call myself confident, strong, and passionate!

If I had not gone on this journey, I believe I would still have low self-esteem and would not be where I am today. I have new dreams and goals. This is only the beginning of my world travels!

Now I have the boldness to work hard on my Girl Scout Gold Award Project! I am focusing on appreciating culture, our environment, and helping the homeless. I can thank my newfound strength to having faced my fears head-on and seeing the world!

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