11 Tips To Have A Fun Girls Getaway And Still Come Back Friends
Summer is around the corner, and one of the things I really look forward to is planning trips for me and my friends. I love coordinating plans, exploring new places and looking for discounts. It’s all fun in the sun until it’s time to book and suddenly no one can pay for a few days in paradise. Traveling with friends can be tricky because you really don’t know someone until you’ve traveled with them. Some people get “brand new” in unfamiliar places, and others have the best of intentions but no follow through.
Vacations are one of those things that will truly test a friendship, but new adventures shouldn’t end old friendships. Keep the following in mind before you book your next getaway with the besties:
1. Birthday girl gets the bed
Last year a co-worker of mine traveled to Miami to have her very own epic 21st birthday celebration. Traveling with about ten or more women of different ages and interests, they loaded the rooms up, booking 5 people to a room. You know that was a drama waiting to happen, right? She returned with black and blue bruises on her thighs as a result of her crew getting too turnt up in the club (and the bouncer throwing them way down to the ground) , ill feelings toward her suite mates who complained about her weave shedding the whole time and the best part? Birthday girl never got to actually sleep in the bed at the hotel since her travel companions put their bid in for it each night.
If you have a friend who is the guest of honor, you should treat them that way, whether you’re hitting the local club or traveling across the country. You may not have the cash to drop on bottle service or luxury suites but the least you can do is pay for their drinks and opt to sleep on the futon. Whether you’re the bachelorette or the birthday girl, your turn will come one day and you’ll want to feel special too.
2. Sometimes three is a crowd…a very annoying, complaining crowd
Many people naively think trips are no fun unless you’re traveling with an entourage, but as we saw in tip #1, fun gets old quick when you have a bunch of people who can’t compromise and have conflicting personalities. More isn’t always merrier. The important thing is to travel with people you know can have fun with whether it’s two or twelve.
3. Collect your money up front or let your travel agent be the middle man
The great thing about travel sites like Bookit.com or Expedia is that you can eliminate the middle man and save money. But sometimes cost isn’t worth inconvenience and you need a travel agent to do what you’re not willing to. I’ve tried planning several vacations with people who aren’t able to manage money or save very well. In the end, I’ve always found myself getting burned at the last minute while they cuss out the travel agent for not letting them pay half on the day the money’s due.
You shouldn’t have to chase down your friends to take a vacation. Never put your credit card up for someone who can’t give you a straight answer, is unsure whether they can take the time off from work, or who says things like, “Let me see what my next check looks like.” Not being able to afford a vacation is one thing, but playing games is another altogether. If someone really wants to go on a trip they will find a way and if they have any kind of sense and know they can’t, they’ll give you a honest, but confident, “No.” Booking through an agent helps everyone pay at their own pace without risking your good credit or testing your patience.
4. Save the week-long vacations for the BFF’s
Like I said, traveling can bring out a side of your friends you never knew existed, even with those you’ve known for years. There’s something about new surroundings that turns people into either an exaggerated or understated version of themselves. Unfortunately, for you that means if you’re traveling with someone you don’t really know, you may be stuck with someone you learn you really don’t like. Traveling is 40% location and 60% the company you keep. Test out new friends with shorter weekend getaways at first; save the seven day stays for those you know won’t be nagging and hitting nerves by day 3.
5. Travel in even numbers
If you’re traveling in a large group, people will inevitably want to do different things. I’m all about safety. I never want me or my friends to end up missing on the 6 o’clock news because one of us ditched the luau with a random cabana boy. Plus, in my experience you get the most for your money by booking rooms in twos. Many hotels hike up the price for the same room when booking as a single or in groups more than two.
6. Give each other space
I’m all about safety, but that doesn’t mean your girl will be assaulted getting a soda from the gift shop. Just because you’re in an unfamiliar environment doesn’t mean you have to be the clingy friend who’s afraid to move ten feet from the room without a companion. If there’s a show you’re dying to see or a spa you really want to try, be cautious and fly solo. This is your trip as much as theirs and you deserve to have fun on your terms too.
7. Create a flexible itinerary
If it’s one thing I hate it’s when everyone gets all excited about traveling but once the plane touches down everyone is looking clueless about what to do. You don’t have to go all butt retentive about the itinerary, but do your research and try to find activities that work for everyone’s interests and budgets. Keep everyone up to speed so they can pack appropriately and no one is rocking a hot pink body-con dress to an all-white party or trying to keep up shopping in Times Square in 5-inch heels. You might not spend each moment of your trip doing something epic and exciting, but what’s the point of booking a 5-star suite for a night of tequila shots and a Jerseylicious marathon?
8. Respect each other’s space
I would say that on at least two occasions I’ve traveled with friends and awoken only to see some stranger sleeping in our hotel room. We’re all adults and I understand that everyone is entitled to the occasional “outside-of-my-area-code-hook-up” (that’s not how I roll, but to each his own). But if you’re sharing a room with friends discuss how comfortable everyone is with bringing guests back to the room (and around other’s belongings, you never know who’s a thief). Clean up after yourself, stick to your own bed, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door handle, do whatever you have to do so that no one feels uncomfortable or disrespected. Eventually you have a life to return to, and more than likely that will be with your friends and not the random Wale look-a-like you met on the beach.
9. Do your fair share
I have control issues so I need to be the deciding factor in what we’re doing, who we’re doing it with and how we’re getting there. But I must say I’ve been surprisingly relieved when friends threw me some gas money I wasn’t expecting after a road trip to an amusement park or snagged some free club passes. If you have a friend who has deemed themselves the trip planner, it doesn’t mean you should kick your feet up and enjoy the ride. Create a road trip playlist or find some other way you can contribute your unique talents to make the trip even more enjoyable.
10. Remember: It’s just a vacation. It won’t last forever
There’s dirty draws in the middle of the floor, hair in the sink, and a half-filled Solo cup on the dresser with a false eyelash floating in it. You’re thinking those ladies having brunch on the balcony looking like a scene from Sex and the City can’t possibly be the same dirty broads who left the room looking like this. Before you huff and puff about having to play housekeeper, remember: There’s an actual housekeeper for that. And if there isn’t, it’s not like you have to live like this forever. Don’t spend your whole trip “trippin” about an unmade bed. Take turns cleaning and if that doesn’t work tip toe around the draws and to all the fun you’ll have outside of the dirty room.
11. Keep an eye out for each other
Remember how I said people change when they are out of their element? Undoubtedly some friends will start feeling themselves and morph into pseudo-celebrities who really think they’re Rihanna in the club pouring it up, but that’s no reason not to make sure everyone in your group is safe. Talk your friends down when they start believing their own hype and start creating drama and getting sloppy. There is a such thing as too much fun and arrest records can and will follow you through time zones. They’ll thank you post-hangover for bringing them back to Earth and helping them avoid embarrassing Instagram pics.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.