Doesn’t getting away from everyday life, families and husbands with a bunch of your closest girlfriends sound heavenly? Just picture it: Spa days, cocktails, beaches, nothing more taxing than a spot of shopping to interrupt all that relaxing. With planning and attention to detail, the getaway can be just that dreamy, but without, it can turn into a bit of a nightmare. Here’s how to pull off a girls’ getaway successfully.
1) Think About Group Dynamics
You may want all your best girlfriends to come along on this trip, but will they really all get along together? Penny Milligan, from Rothesay, NB, is something of a girls’ getaway expert, having organized multiple trips that have taken her and her pals to locales such as St. Lucia, New York and Florida. She says that the biggest secret to a successful girls’ getaway is to have a compatible group. “You need to be selective. No one wants to deal with odd behaviours or attitudes, so avoid inviting people that are high maintenance.”
Milligan says that she has learned the hard way that you can’t just invite everyone for fear of hurting feelings, because it leads to a polarized group and back-chatting (which isn’t fun for anyone). To avoid conflicts with those that don’t get invited, Milligan has made sure to contact them and explain why this trip wasn’t suitable for them, rather than just leave the friends hanging and upset over not getting an invite.
Once you do decide on your group, get everyone together before you start planning, advises Julie Robinson, a travel agent with Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Burlington, Ont. “That way you can work out what the common interests in the group are, and how you can cater to that while still allowing everyone the freedom to do their own thing, too,” she says. “Resorts can be a good idea the first time a group goes away together, because a lot of the planning, and costs, are already taken care of.”
2) Plan Well in Advance
Because of the amount of correspondence back and forth when organizing a group trip, Robinson recommends giving yourself plenty of time for planning, and to get a firm commitment from everyone before you actually book anything. “This is especially important if you are getting a group discount, for which you usually need 10 people travelling together,” she says. “If one of the group drops out last minute, then you lose the great rate you got and everyone’s cost will go up.’
Milligan agrees. “If everything with regards to costs, etc., is set out well before the trip, then there are fewer surprises and everyone knows what to expect, which means that everything should run smoother when you actually get there.”
3) Consider Everyone’s Financial Situation
If some of the girls in the group aren’t as well off as others, then you need to be cognizant of that. “On my birthday trip to St. Lucia last year, I had friends coming that were going on multiple trips that year and others for whom this was their one blow-out vacation, so we made sure to be flexible in terms of accommodation and restaurant choices, so that no one felt left out,” says Milligan.
4) Be Respectful of Everyone’s Differences
Even with the closest group of friends in the world, you can’t expect that everyone will get on all the time (Milligan says that there have been trips when she has played coordinator, moderator and referee), so you might want to anticipate and make allowances for known differences.
Robinson advises that you think about differences in the group when picking accommodations. “Whether you book a shared villa or separate rooms should depend on the dynamic of the group,” she says. “A shared place might not be good if some in the group are into dancing at discos ’til late while the others just want undisturbed peace at night.”