How to Plan a Summer Getaway with the Girls

How many times have you and your girlfriends said “we need to plan a trip!” without actually following through? No money, no time, no energy–we think it is high time you stop making excuses, honey. Let loose! Trust us–your friends need a getaway just as much as you do, so here are some tips to help you drop the excuses and finally plan that getaway.

YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE EVERYONE AN INVITATION

As we get older, including everyone matters less and less. You have your core group, and that is nothing to feel guilty about. What matters is that you get the opportunity to spend quality time with your main girls–the girls who uplift, challenge, encourage, and love you no matter how many miles separate you. Being exclusive with who you invite will make planning easier and ensure friends of friends do not get invited on a whim. A trip like this is meant to celebrate the perennial friends, not the seasonal ones.

SET A BUDGET & LOOK FOR DEALS

AGREE ON A BUDGET

One friend may be able to budget $2000, but another friend may only have $500 to spare. To ensure everyone can attend, you should have an honest discussion about what everyone can afford.

If one of your girlfriends is on a tight budget, do not make her feel like a burden by talking about all the things you wish you could do on a bigger budget–it is inconsiderate and a surefire way to suck the fun out of the trip. Remember, this trip is not about the destination or the events–it’s about spending time with your girls. You will be surprised just how much you can do on a tight budget.

AGREE ON A DATE

Parenthood, 9-to-5 jobs, and other responsibilities make it difficult to escape for a week-long vacation. Instead, try a long weekend. Find a weekend that works for everyone, and take a Friday or Monday off (or both, if everyone can manage it). A shorter vacation will give you the much-needed break you deserve as well as save you money.

BOOK EARLY

One of the best ways to save money is to book everything early. Airlines, hotels, and even Airbnbs are known to raise their prices for short-notice bookings. Planning will save you money and ensure all of your girls have enough time to ask off work.

CHECK GROUPON

Groupon always has deals of all kinds–from cruises and all-inclusive resorts to cabins in the mountains, Groupon is a one-stop shop for cost-effective getaways. Some trips even include airfare!

USE AIRBNB or STAY ALFRED

Cost efficiency is not the only benefit to renting an Airbnb for your getaway. Airbnbs usually provide a unique experience that allows you to “do as the locals do” and immerse yourself in an area not as frequented by tourists.

Stay Alfred is another great option–they provide high-end vacation rentals, apartments, and lofts “with the space and amenities of a vacation rental combined with the quality and consistency of a boutique hotel.”

These rentals usually have another benefit, too: kitchens.

COOK FOR YOURSELF

Cooking a meal at home is almost always more cost-effective than eating out. If your clique is especially budget-conscious, preparing a few meals in-house (or in-apartment) is a great way to save moolah. Cooking is also a great bonding experience. What better way to bond than over a homemade pizza and a bottle of chardonnay?

PACK LIGHTLY & INTENTIONALLY

THE 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 METHOD

We all have an inner diva who wants to fit an entire closet into a carry-on. You can listen to that inner diva if you wish, but you will end up with a sore back and regret from hauling around a big suitcase full of clothes you do not end up wearing.

Instead, lay out a carry-on or weekender bag and pack only the essentials. We suggest using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method.

– 5 shirts

– 4 bottoms

– 3 dresses/rompers

– 3 pairs of shoes (tennis shoes, sandals, heels)

– 2 swimsuits, 2 pajama sets, and 2 bags (a day bag and a night bag)

– 1 watch, 1 sun hat, and 1 pair of sunglasses

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Bringing items you can mix and match will give you the freedom to create multiple outfits without overpacking, which will satisfy your inner diva!

Besides clothes and shoes, we also suggest you bring a cell phone charger (because we all have that girlfriend who forgets their charger) and rose water or your favorite facial spray to keep you feeling fresh despite the heat.

DON’T FORGET YOUR JOURNAL

How many vacation-less years have passed? You and your girls spent years making excuses, saying you did not have the time or money to take a vacation.

Now you are finally giving yourself an exquisite, much-needed break. That is wonderful. But what will happen next year? Will you start making excuses again?

We suggest packing a journal. Before you leave, write down all the excuses you’ve used over the past few years. While on your vacay, jot down what happens, where you go, jokes and memorable moments with your girls. Then, at the end of your vacation, write down why you needed a break. Were you overworked? Had you lost your focus? Did you need some time away from the kids? How do you feel now that you’ve had a break?

Keep the journal and go back to it whenever you want to make excuses. Don’t let years pass before you take another girls trip.

WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO DO

CHICAGO*

A unique history, good food, gorgeous architecture, fine art–Chicago has it all. Take a walk down Michigan Avenue to window shop at all the upscale boutiques. If you’re interested in history and architecture, take a boat tour through the city. If you’re visiting during the summer, you can catch the weekly fireworks show on Navy Pier and then grab drinks on a rooftop or head to a show–Chicago is famous for comedy and blues.

PALM SPRINGS

For a more relaxed retreat, Palm Springs is an ideal destination. There are plenty of resorts and spas to choose from, and once you’re downtown, everything is within walking distance. Walk around the River at Rancho Mirage or the El Paseo shopping district. Visit the botanical gardens or take a ride on the aerial tramway to find hiking trails and an upscale restaurant. Don’t forget your bathing suit, though, because you just may spend all your time at the pool.

CHARLESTON

Charleston has been named one of the world’s best cities by Travel & Leisure and with good reason! Whether you take a carriage ride or a walking tour, Charleston will charm you with its brick and cobblestone streets and colorful architecture. Cruise around the harbor or waltz down King Street for some shopping, and do not forget to treat yourself to some true southern cuisine.

LAS VEGAS

Balance is essential when visiting Vegas. You and the girls may be tempted to party the night (and day) away, but we suggest planning for a few less active activities to recover. Follow up a night at the club or casino with a day at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden or some shopping at the Container Park downtown. Of course, you and the girls must catch a show of some sort–just make sure to get your tickets in advance.

MEMPHIS*

Memphis is a sort of pilgrimage for everyone from blues-lovers and Elvis fans to history buffs. Tour Graceland and Sun Studio for some rock ‘n roll education, as well as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Catch some blues on Beale Street after dining on some true southern barbecue. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum to learn just how essential Memphis was during the Civil Rights Movement. Before you leave, grab a burger at Rockabilly’s or Huey’s Midtown, or wander down the river on a boat to tour this sacred city.

NEW ORLEANS*

For an easy-going (and affordable) vacation, New Orleans is the place to go. You’ll likely spend a lot of time in the historic French Quarter, but do not forget to branch out–take a streetcar to The Garden District to see the antebellum mansions, or walk over to Frenchman Street. Of course, you should spend a night on Bourbon Street visiting jazz clubs and bars for cheap drinks; and, because Cafe du Monde is open 24/7, you can wander over there to snack on a beignet while you and the girls sober up.

LOUISVILLE

Louisville is famous for the Kentucky Derby, but there is so much else to see in this historic city. If you and the girls do not mind the dark, you could visit the Louisville Mega Cavern or, for a genuine scare, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. If that is not your thing, you could spend a few hours in the sunshine at the Iroquois Park or the Louisville Zoo. End the weekend experiencing Louisville’s other claim to fame–bourbon–on a guided bourbon trail.

*Stay Alfred properties rentals are available in these cities

QUIT MAKING EXCUSES–JUST GO.

As your weekend comes to a close, sit down with the girls and have everyone write down a new destination. (Europe, anyone?) Put the destinations in a hat, and have a stranger choose one at random. Voila! You have next years’ destination. Start planning the trip on the drive (or flight) back home, so you and your girlfriends do not have any room for excuses when next summer comes around.

We all make excuses that keep us from spending money, taking off work, and going on trips, but girlfriend getaways are essential to living a full and balanced life. A weekend getaway with your girls is all about laughing and creating memories. Take pictures, laugh until your sides hurt. The reality is you only have so many summers left–why not make them unforgettable?