When a bunch of guys go away for the weekend, they just go. When women plan a weekend together, they plan. Being the designated organizer isn’t easy, however. You’ve got to consider everyone’s budget, interests, needs, and feelings. Here are a few rules to help you plan a successful girls weekend getaway.
Notice we said “need,” not “want.” Each of your friends will have her own ideas about what to do and where to go, but what’s more important is the intention of the trip. A successful girls’ weekend getaway will be tuned to what your friends need most. If everyone’s been immersed in work for months, consider an unplugged vacation, like a cabin in the mountains. If your friends are overwhelmed with family responsibilities, then it’s time to indulge yourselves with spa treatments and great food. And if it’s been too long since you’ve had some fun, plan a getaway that will let you go out on the town.
If you send out a list of five possible destinations, there's no way all your friends will agree. As the organizer, you need to be decisive. Propose a place and one or two hotel choices, as well as possible activities. Include unscheduled time for catching up and hanging out. One possible approach is planning a mystery trip. Once dates and a budget are decided, one person arranges the entire trip, only revealing the details on the day of your departure.1
What's the most important part of planning girls weekend getaways? It's not a packed itinerary; it's having all your friends together, without anyone feeling left out because she's broke. Ask your girls to be honest about how much they want to spend for the weekend and make sure your plans don’t spill over the budget. If you’re dreaming of Jamaica but airfare is out of reach for some, consider closer, cheaper beaches for your girls’ getaway — or an alternative, such as a lake or river house.
Remember, too, that the destination's more important than the hotel. Maybe you envision your friends flopping onto four-poster beds at a gorgeous Napa Valley bed-and-breakfast. Or maybe you imagine the group striding into the lobby of the Gansevoort Park Avenue, heels clicking on the tiles. It's a great daydream — but before you blow your budget on a boutique hotel, remember that you won't be spending too much time there. That money could be better invested in activities or going out.
If you book three hotel rooms on different floors, you won’t have anywhere to hang out. But if you arrange for everyone to stay in a single suite, there’s going to be a line for the bathroom. The best accommodations for a girls' weekend include spaces for alone time, for heart-to-heart conversations, and for late-night group karaoke. Ideally, your beach house, condo, cabin or suite will have a kitchen (for cheap meals and late-night snacks), a porch or deck, and a big living room with comfy seating.
As the trip organizer, you may be the one who’s putting the trip deposit/Airbnb booking/activities on your credit card. And that means you need travel insurance. If you must cancel or interrupt your girls’ weekend for a covered reason, insurance can help you avoid losing your trip investment.
Also, take time to understand how travel insurance can cover travel companions, should someone in your group have to cancel or cut short the trip. (Allianz Global Assistance defines a travel companion as “a person traveling with you whose name appears with yours on the same trip arrangement and who will accompany you on your trip.”) In general, the golden rule is that every person on a trip should purchase their own travel insurance. It doesn’t have to be expensive! Allianz Global Assistance offers a range of travel insurance plans for every budget.
When you’re planning a girls’ getaway, you’re also the arbiter of equality. And that’s a tough job! If Friend A gets stuck on the rollaway bed after Friend B claims the master suite, think of ways to make it up — you could tell A to pay less, or take her out to dinner. If Friend C is vegan but Friend D wants to grill a pork loin, you may have to negotiate a compromise.
One way to ensure fairness is to set some house rules. On a recent girls’ trip to the beach, one friend made a pitcher of mimosas — delighting everyone except for the owner of the champagne, who had planned to save the bottle for later. Misunderstandings can be avoided by stating the basics at the outset: Anything in the fridge is communal property, unless it’s labeled. No dishes left in the sink overnight. When the group goes out to eat, the check will be split X ways.
If you always head to the Las Vegas clubs for your annual girls' getaway weekend, maybe this is the year you do a Seattle pub crawl instead. If you usually sit around talking and watching old movies, try going out one night instead of ordering pizza. Do something new every year. Because while tradition is important, you want every year's getaway to be something you and your girlfriends will remember forever.