Girlfriend getaways are growing in popularity—whether to celebrate an upcoming wedding, a milestone birthday, or to luxuriate at a beach resort or destination spa.
These getaways offer women a chance to reconnect and strengthen their bonds as well as a respite from the responsibilities of their busy lives. As much as we love our spouses, partners and families, there’s no substitute for the satisfactions of these women-only vacations.
If you are thinking of planning a vacation with your besties, here are five tips to ensure it goes smoothly:
1. Choose Your Group
The most important decision you make will be your choice of travel partners. Ideally, choose people with whom you already feel comfortable and compatible. If a friend makes you cringe over lunch, you probably don’t want to spend several days or more with her on a trip. If a friend is rigid and demanding, she isn’t likely to make for a congenial travel companion.
Decide how large you want your group to be. Do you prefer the intimacy of traveling with just one other person or do you prefer a mix of people? You may already have a group of co-workers in mind, for example, or a group of friends who regularly get together, such as your old friends from high school or college. If there isn’t a “natural” group, you’ll need to figure out whom and how many to invite, trying to make sure that the composition allows for everyone to feel comfortable.
2. Decide On A Destination
You want to choose a destination that appeals to everyone. Do you want to see the sights in big cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, London or Paris? Do you enjoy active travel such as hiking, biking or ski trips? Do you simply want to veg out at a beach resort in Florida or Mexico? Would you like to cruise the Mediterranean Sea or the Caribbean?
Of course, selecting a destination will depend on your budget and the number of days you have available for travel. Travel magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs can inspire your choice. Solicit advice from other friends and family members who have taken trips they’ve enjoyed.
3. Choose A Leader
A leaderless group is like a rudderless ship. It’s prudent then for your group to choose a fair-minded, competent person to mediate the input of group members, make final decisions and execute arrangements. Hopefully, one individual will volunteer to put forth this effort.
If everyone in the group is stretched for time or the itinerary is inordinately complicated, responsibilities may need to be delegated among the group. Another popular option is to outsource some of the tasks, by engaging a travel agent to help with planning and coordination. Experienced travel agents, some of whom specialize in girlfriend getaways, can assist with ideas, information and logistics. In the end, using one may turn out to be more economical than planning the trip on your own.
4. Establish A Budget
You’ll need to determine what group members can afford and how much money they want to spend. In addition to transportation costs (both getting to and from the destination as well as local transportation), other major expenses generally involve accommodations, meals and fees (for tours, activities and/or attractions).
Bear in mind that people, even very good friends, often choose to travel in different ways—ranging from stays at hostels to stays at 5-star luxury hotels and resorts. It’s good to talk through the lodging options and their costs so everyone is in agreement. Some people may prefer private rooms while others will opt to share.
It’s also important to discuss dining arrangements in advance. Is there an expectation that everyone will eat all meals together or only come together for dinner? When you do eat as a group, will you be dining at casual restaurants or Michelin-starred establishments? If there are drinkers and non-drinkers in the group, will people pay for alcohol separately as opposed to splitting a bill?
Not every expense can be anticipated but it’s good to have a ballpark figure of the costs entailed before people sign on. Visiting an all-inclusive resort or taking a mostly-inclusive cruise is a great way to have a more predictable estimate of costs with fewer surprises.
One other tip: ask members of the group for a non-refundable deposit to make sure they are committed to the getaway and no one backs out at the last moment.
5. Stay Flexible
No vacation is perfect and while traveling with your own group of friends has its upsides, it also has its perils. You may wind up with a roommate who snores or be a carnivore forced to eat at vegan restaurants. Everyone needs to remain flexible and remember they aren’t traveling solo.
The payoff: girlfriend getaways offer women unique opportunities to enhance their friendships, experience new ways to travel, and return home feeling happier and more content than when they left.