Girl Scouts Go Hostelling | HI USA Education

Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts Go Hostelling

Girl Scouts PatchGirl Scouts love to travel! We hear that statement over and over from girls and their leaders at our hostels across the country.

We want to show you what is so exciting about hostelling for Girl Scouts. Troop leaders will find hostel stays are easy to plan, affordable and fun. Girls find hostels to be a great place to build friendships, develop a sense of community and meet international travelers. Group Sales will help you make your reservation and Programming Staff can assist you in planning activities. What are hostels?

Adding to Your Adventure with HI USA

Hostelling International USA (HI-USA) works with Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) to make sure our network meets the needs of Girl Scouts today, from meeting Safety-Wise standards to providing meaningful activities for girls. To learn more about our Girl Scout ready hostels and the unique opportunities each offers click the Girl Scout Ready Hostels tab above.

What's new?

Beat the Winter Blues with Plans for a summer getaway to cape cod!

It's never too early to plan for summer. Discover the beauty and adventure of Cape Cod and the Islands with HI-USA. Conquer the ocean at HI-Eastham: join naturalist guides to explore the national seashore by kayak, the next day hang ten with certified surf instructors. Experience both the land and sea at HI-Martha's Vineyard: traverse sand dunes in over-sand vehicles by day and take in a guided moonrise kayak trip at night. Relax beach side at HI-Nantucket in a renovated life saving station; bike rentals are delivered to the hostel allowing scouts to explore the island under their own power. To view our updated group packages visit the Girl Scout Ready Hostels tab above.

Girl Scout Opportunities with HI-USA Getaways

HI-USA hostels offer amazing getaway packages! Getaways are two to four day travel experiences for Girl Scout troops that are part of the Girl Scouts for girls program. From exploring the cities and kayaking the coasts, to hiking state parks and sharing s'mores with international travelers. Getaways offered by HI-USA help Girl Scouts add to their adventure and work towards meeting their personal goals.

  • Learn more about the Getaways offered by HI-USA by clicking the Girl Scout Ready Hostels tab above.
  • Learn more about Girl Scouts for girls.

Discover the World: Girl Scouts Go Hostelling Patch

Girl Scouts PatchHere's a patch that's fun to earn and can start girls on the path to traveling around the world! The patch can help girls become global citizens who are connected to people and places near and far. Get connected by completing just one activity in each of the three areas: trip planning, learning about a new culture, and sharing what you have learned.

Once your troop has earned the Discover the World patch or other patches while staying at hostels, please come back and share your story by clicking on the Share Your Story tab above. Give your troop extra recognition and help other troops by sharing your ideas.

Passport to Adventure

Developed in partnership with GSUSA, the Passport to Adventure is full of great activities and tips to help Girl Scouts interact with fellow travelers from all over the world and make the most out of their travel experiences.

Travel Education - Get Out and See the World!

A specialty of Hostelling International is travel education. World Travel 101 is delivered by experienced travelers and gets girls ready to be true globe trekkers. In Trip Planning 101 girls navigate guidebooks to prepare for an actual trip or just gain the skills to do so in the future. Both of these workshops that teach responsible, culturally sensitive travel can be delivered at hostels or with Hostelling International USA volunteers.

Cultural Education

Hostelling is all about giving people from all different backgrounds the opportunity to come together and get to know each other. HI USA's cultural education programs help prepare young people to do just that. The Cultural Kitchen program's exciting curriculum empowers girls to study a foreign country's culture, culminating in a meal prepared by the group that is shared with travelers. Community Walls gives girls the opportunity to share experiences of their culture and community with others through the creation of original artwork.

For more information about Girl Scouts staying at HI-USA hostels or our many programming opportunities for Girl Scouts, please contact Girl Scouts Hostelling.

Girl Scout Ready Hostels

Below you will find a list of Girl Scout ready hostels and the specific programs carried by each.

  Patch Passport Getaway Trip Planning World Travel 101 Cultural Kitchen Other Special Programs
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Discover the World

Kate C., 17
Mount Shasta, CA


I traded my senior year of High School for a year living abroad. As a Rotary Youth Ambassador you don’t know where you’ll be sent until two months before you leave but I ended up in Germany. In the state of Niedersachsen “High German” is spoken, people are punctual and conservative. At first, cultural and language differences made me feel that no one liked me. I found comfort in friends that I made of other exchange students from Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Africa and Iceland – we face similar challenges so we bonded immediately. We hung out together whenever we could, touring Germany and staying in youth hostels each weekend getting to know each other and finding strength in our friendships. We were equals in our adventures of a new country and a new culture. Eventually I learned German and began to understand the cultural difference of my new home. I discovered my German friends to be the warmest and most loving people I have ever known. I will always cherish the memories with them; including those nights that we spent at various hostels during our Eurotour. In hostels there are lots of languages spoken intertwined and lots of laughter.

Because of the decision to leave home, the greatest lesson of my life occurred not in a California High School, but in German Kindergarten where I worked as a volunteer. A five-year-old kept repeating “er hasst mich” which means “he hates me.” His best friend was playing elsewhere and the little boy was devastated. I didn’t know what to say so I sent him to make some new friends. The next day he and his buddy were inseparable again. I flashed back to my “California” world and realized this same shortsightedness accounted for the drama back home in high school. We all looked so much into our own small lives, that we forget the big picture. I had left California naïve, young, and seeking contentedness. I had always looked towards the future, straining to see better times. With the “big picture” perspective, I discovered peace within myself by recognizing beauty in every situation and feeling gratitude for each emotion. I found a “place” where I fit in, by standing out.

These moments when we learn life-changing lessons happen because we are stretching ourselves by exploring new places. We couldn’t do this without the opportunity to stay in affordable hostels with other adventurous youth like ourselves. That is why I love youth hostelling because the lessons learned in foreign countries will shape who we become and make us more compassionate, broader and less self-centered. Traveling is about expansion and the hostelling experience supports this endeavor. Share the experience with others in youth hostels and each time you leave you gain another friend, another memory. This summer I plan to spend more time traveling and youth hostels with help make that possible.

Joanne D., 14
Harwood Heights, IL


Hostelling: One Experience, a Lifetime of Inspiration

My years as a Girl Scout have given me time to grow; a time to strengthen and build upon blossoming friendships, and to develop long-lasting connections. But Girl Scouting also provides a chance to step out of your comfort zone, to branch out and become more in tune with the rest of the world. As a Girl Scout, I was lucky enough to meet fellow scouts from across the globe and hear their own stories about their personal experiences, their perspectives on a broad spectrum of topics, and their surprising everyday lives. This fascinating experience forever changed my life and the years to come.

A couple years ago, my Girl Scout troop decided to spend the night at the hostel in downtown Chicago. We had painted a mural depicting the best of our community as a part of the Community Walls project taking place, and we would be able to see our mural, as well as others painted by troops across Chicago. While there, we took part in numerous activities, like “Human Bingo,” where we had to find girls who did or are doing certain things in their lives, for example, someone who speaks two languages, was born in a different country, or has stayed in a hostel before. As I meandered through the anxious, bustling hostellers trying to find people to sign my card, I encountered girls from not just another part of the US, but from a completely different continent! The girls I met formed a prismatic array of diverse cultures, ranging from Western Europe to southern Africa to the eastern peaks of Japan. We shared our thoughts about our families, where we were from, our religions, places we have visited, people we have met, captivating (and sometimes laugh-inducing) Girl Scouting escapades, and several different aspects of daily life. Throughout these conversations, the thought that continued recurring in my mind was, “wow…who could have imagined that there are so many different people out there? These girls are so different, and yet, we’re all so alike!” Each and every one of those girls had remarkable stories and lessons to share that night. I’d never really had an opportunity to discover and learn about so many real, fascinating cultures first-hand. But after this unique excursion, my eyes were open, and I was finally able to better understand and accept the formerly vague and uninteresting ways of life that I had only yet to fully encompass and appreciate. It was after this rejuvenating experience that my passion for humanitarianism was aroused, and I recognized my dream of someday trotting across the globe, touching a new part of life, becoming a greater part of the world. I hope that I was able to make as momentous of an influence on the girls I met that day as they made to me, and that I will find the way to use my new-found inspiration and knowledge to help others learn to become a part of the growing world around them.

Kaitlin D., 14
Crivitz, WI


The back of our t-shirts read, “What do you get when you cross Troop 438 with 15,477 boxes of cookies – one awesome trip to DC/NYC.” Maybe we should have included Hostelling International in that statement.

Our troop’s original plan was just to see DC but while researching hostels, we found a shuttle bus from DC to NYC for only $25 per girl so we were able to do both cities. Both hostels were near public transportation, which meant we did not have to spend $1000 on a rental van and our leader didn’t have to drive. This was a real plus since we live in a town with one traffic light. Driving in the city would have been a nightmare.

In addition to being clean and inexpensive, the hostels gave us the chance to meet travelers from all over. We met girls from Peru and England and there were troops from California and southern Wisconsin staying right in the hostel (small world). The hostel in NYC even had a package deal for scouts that included breakfast and subway tickets. What a deal!

When we first talked about staying in a hostel instead of a hotel, some girls weren’t crazy about the idea – no pool!! So what, by the time we put in full days of sightseeing, all I wanted to do was climb into bed. Why pay for what you don’t use! We really didn’t need all the fancy stuff that comes with the fancy hotel price. Actually, it reminded me a little of Girl Scout camp without the campfire and sing-a-long.

Since we live in a small village in Wisconsin with approximately 1000 people, our trip was really an eye-opener. Going from the “village that rolls up the streets at 8” to “the city that never sleeps” was a huge adjustment but being able to share the experience with people from all over the world sure helped.

Seeing the way people live in the city – small apartments, lots of noise, little yards, if any, was interesting. Even the shopping was different, where’s the Wal-Mart?

Staying in hostels allowed us to be together instead of in separate rooms, we could make meals together, and hang out in the movie room. We had easy access to “locals” for advice on where to go and which parts of town to avoid. Since the hostels were very safety conscious, our leaders could allow us some freedom / alone time which was nice for all of us. I would recommend using a hostel to travel to anyone who wants and adventure.

Hannah O., 14
Oregon City, OR


What Happened in the Kitchen

A pungent odor filled the crowded kitchen, and the smoke alarm went off. By this time the pancakes were burning quite nicely, causing everyone in the room to look my way. People surrounding me saying, “it’s not your fault,” or “you have the wrong tools.” Personally, I find it amazing that I met so many people from all over the world in the kitchen of a hostel when I was burning pancakes.

In August of 2008, I was staying at a hostel in Hilo, Hawaii doing conservation work with a group of Girl Scouts. It was my turn to cook a meal, and one of the other girls and I made coconut and macadamia nut pancakes and waffles. The hostel kitchen was rather large, but it was crowded with Japanese, Americans, a South American or two, and Europeans. We found an empty stove, a frying pan, and an ancient waffle maker. There was no Pam spray, so we used a stick of margarine as grease instead. The first pancake I made was rather beautiful, but I didn’t realize that every time you made another pancake, you had to smother the pan in butter. I ended up burning the second and third pancakes. This is when the smoke alarm went off. Julie, who was in charge of our group, ran to the store to get Pam, while others offered condolences. I then disposed of the inedible pancakes.

While I was in the kitchen, I saw many people who spoke different languages, with different skin colors, from different countries. Everyone there was helpful and kind, even though a few chuckled over the pancake incident. Hostelling is an interesting experience, but it’s fun because you’ll always meet someone new. I saw many different cultures in the kitchen that day; a South American lady getting something from the refrigerator, Japanese ladies with their rice, and Europeans washing their dishes. It was neat, because you could smile at someone you’d never met before, and would never see again, and they would smile back.

Even though we’re all different, all of us are similar in some ways, no matter where we’re from. I enjoy hostelling because it’s a way to see the world and its populace without having to go too far from home. I take pleasure in learning about places and their citizens, and I like meeting new people. I just wish I didn’t have to burn the pancakes to meet them.

Sarah K., 17
Tulsa, OK


When traveling, it’s too easy to take the easy way out and fill the role of a tourist. Picture those people staying in the trendy part of town at the well known brand of hotel, seeking out the nearest nation-wide restaurant chain for every meal, and shopping for souvenirs on the tourist-friendly avenues brimming with overpriced shops.

But now imagine taking the opposite approach to travel. Instead of filling the role of tourist, you immerse yourself in the community and culture of your locale by staying in a working and living community, and not simply by playing the tourist.

In this second situation, you can sample the true flavor of your destination, experiencing the culture of the community by actually living it, and not just remaining a cautious spectator. As a tourist, you only see what the community chooses for you to see. Beyond the advertised attractions, you may miss little known local hot spots unknown to the casual tourist, locally owned restaurants waiting to be discovered, exciting local events not covered by tourism websites, and wonderful people welcoming you into their life.

One way to gain this true immersion experience is through a program such as Hostelling International. Staying at a hostel will allow you to go out and experience the true community surrounding you. This immersion can bring about wonderful and enriching experiences that simply can’t be reached by the typical tourist. You can discover where the real people who actually live and work in a destination go to eat, relax, and play. In these places you can begin to understand the culture of the people surrounding you, and not just the workers serving you in the tourism industry. Instead of floating above the local community, you join them in their daily lives as not their customer, but their friend.

I have always played the tourist. I will admit that I have stayed in brand name hotels, eaten only at chain restaurants I recognize, and shopped in the trendy tourist destinations. And while, yes, I’ve had fun on these trips, I’m ready to try something new, I’m ready to move beyond what the tourism agencies want me to see, and immerse myself in the true culture of the destination. I love to travel, and I know that an experience such as this would take my love of traveling to a whole new level.

I’m ready to meet new people whose path I would otherwise never cross, explore new places, and try new experiences. By discovering the local culture of a new destination, I will be able to gain a better understanding for a lifestyle that is unique and completely different from my own, but also discover what remains the same for all people, regardless of location; the joy of discovering new friends, and the welcoming warmth of people the world over.

Vivian S., 16
Austin, TX


Discover the World

As a senior Girl Scout, I have traveled to many places over the years. Hostelling is a new and wonderful experience I have had recently with scouting. It provided me with an opportunity to see bigger and better places in the world.

Last summer, I joined 24 Girl Scouts nationwide to attend the Oxford Youth Leadership Program in London. Besides learning about how to be a good leader, we also spent a lot of time touring London, seeing famous historical landmarks, listening to captivating stories, and volunteering at the children’s hospital. I became friends with 24 wonderful girls; many of whom inspired me to look at life from a different perspective, and taught me things I could not have learned in a classroom.

Throughout the two weeks we spent in London, we stayed in the Lord Baden-Powell House, a welcoming hostel that we called home throughout our stay.

Living in a hostel provided us with a unique way to connect to each other. Our room held 12 people. The close proximity in which we lived brought us even closer. I learned many things from each of them including Ayana, a beautiful girl with quick smiles.

Ayana is one of the funniest people I have ever met. She is from a suburb of Atlanta and arrived in London with a full scholarship, one suitcase, and £20 of spending money. Being the cheerful girl she is, she never complained about being underprivileged. None of us knew that she came from a family with very limited resources until she started skipping meals, claiming that she wasn’t hungry. After several of us expressed concern and offered to pay for her meals, she was so moved and told us her story. She was from a single-parent home and her mom worked odd jobs to support the family. She never had any spending money like most of us do, yet she still maintained such a positive attitude towards life. We were all touched by her story. All of us reached to our purses and quickly we raised over £50.

Hostelling offered us a safe environment to meet more people and learn about new cultures, new languages, and even new games. Each night at the hostel, regardless of how tired we were from sightseeing, we always headed downstairs to socialize with other guests in the hostel. In just two weeks, we met people from over 10 different countries. We learned German card games, some simple Italian, old Irish stories, and heard all kinds of accents.

Lord Baden-Powel House offered me the opportunity for an incredible experience in London. Hostelling provides Girl Scouts with a cool, yet affordable way to visit interesting places, meet people of different backgrounds, and learn life lessons. I am looking forward to my next adventure of seeing the world through hostelling.