Several years ago, one of my best girlfriends (Hi Laila!) and I found ourselves living on opposite coasts of the country—Seattle and New York City. Since we originally bonded over our mutual love of trying out new hot spots, fashion, and generally the gamut of culture and lifestyle, it was natural that we decided to keep our friendship strong while we treat ourselves to fun travel experiences. For the last decade, we’ve kept our travel tradition up and along the way fine tuned our planning process.
We’ve become the perfect travel partners, and more importantly, have used our trips to reconnect and keep our friendship strong.
Our tradition has morphed into meeting up once a year in a spot we’ve both never been, and over those years we’ve come up with following formula and tips for a successful girls trip:
- Minimize the Runaround. Since vacations should be a break from the daily grind of life, I think it’s important you minimize the time waiting or “traveling” to get to-and from your destinations. Since girlfriend getaways often fall into the long-weekend time slot, I use the following tactics:
- Find a Location Everyone can Fly Directly. With two tiny ones at home, three nights feels like the right amount of time for me personally to be away from home at this season of life. That being said, three nights is in fact a quick trip when taking into account travel time, so flying direct ensures you spend less time dealing with delayed flights and travel woes and more time relaxing, sightseeing, and catching up. For those of you traveling by car or train, I’d try and limit travel time to half-a-day.
- Find Travel Destinations that are Highly Walkable, Compact, or Have Quick and Easy Public Transportation. This ensures most of your precious time at your destination will not be transporting from one place to the next. It also give you a more local view of a town and gets you out of the burden of renting a car, which both save money and allows you to safely indulge in that extra glass of wine!
- Mix Sightseeing and Leisure Time (preferably in that order). On a recent trip to Nashville (which we loved by the way), on the final full day of our trip, we found ourselves a bit worn out. We had been out and about, pounding the pavement in the southern heat (not to mention the honkey-tonk floors!) and we needed some solid rest and relaxation. So, we made a pact that going forward we’d always build in some leisure time, be it a spa day, lounging by the pool, or even seeing a movie. Because excitement and energy tend to be high at the beginning of a trip, I recommend the heavy sightseeing early on, with more relaxation towards the end, or spending half the day sightseeing and the other half relaxing.
- Give Everyone a Say. The early stages of our trip planning tend to include several hundred (okay probably not that many) emails where we both shoot off ideas of places on our radar, highlights of things to do and see in these locations, and several links to articles about traveling to each potential spot. Over the years, my go-to sites for travel research are the New York Times Travel Section, Jetsetter.com, and, of course, Pinterest. Not everyone will have the patience for this, but my friend and I both enjoy researching travel options, and we are both open-minded to each other’s suggestions (another few reasons why this annual trip continues, I’m sure). If the decision-making process begins to feel overwhelming or burdensome, one fun way to tackle this is to let one friend pick a set number of places (I find three is a good number) and the other(s) gets to decide on the final spot. Once a spot is decided on, we make sure that all parties’ top priorities are worked into the itinerary.
- Plan Ahead. Based on the items above, there are several reasons to have a structured plan for each day:
- You make the most of your precious time away
- You get to block in time for both sightseeing and leisure
- You make sure everyone’s wish list is met
- And, reservations can be secured ahead of time for those key items on your list
- That Said, Stay Flexible. Even this hyper-organized lady will admit that some (many?) of our best travel moments have been when we steered off track. This can be due to unexpected events such as bad weather or transportation issues, but is more often based on recommendations from friendly folks met out and about or advice from local Uber/Lyft/Taxi drivers. It’s a huge missed opportunity to not hit these folks up for recommendations, and they often give you amazing “local” tips about how to best enjoy the city.
So next time you’re feeling the need to reconnect with friends, gather up your wanderlust and visit these tried-and true tips to make your next girls trip your best yet.
Feature Photo by Adobe Stock/F8studio