“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” -Tim Cahill
Taking time to step away from the routine and mundane tasks is an important part of tending to your health both, physical and emotional. One way to make such a step is to take a short trip and get away for a couple of days. Open the curtains for THE GIRLS’ GETAWAY! Traveling provides a variety of experiences to choose from and a welcome change of scenery. But traveling with a friend or two gives your trip a much-needed element of fun, distraction, and adventure!
Just like with anything, to have a successful trip, you need a plan!
MONEY and TIME
Start with your budget and available time. Knowing how much you can afford financially and how much time you can take off will help you determine how far and for how long you can go. Be honest and upfront. There’s no need to go into debt just to keep up the appearances of living the fun life of travel! If you can, try to compromise to accommodate your friend or the rest of your group.
If you don’t have enough resources now and have to save up for a bigger trip, set the time by which you all can go! In the meantime, only go on a trip if you can afford it. If your travel budgets are small, don’t fret! You can still plan and enjoy a fun and unforgettable trip on the smallest of budgets.
Road trips, for instance, offer a cheaper transportation and an option to pack a few of your lunches and snacks in a cooler. You can split the cost of gas and take turns driving. Looks for creative ways to cut the costs and be flexible!
“You don’t have to be rich to travel well. ” – Eugene Fodor
Now look at your calendars and pick the dates that work for you all and choose the best one. Securing a date that works for everyone sometimes is the hardest part! Definitely have a few dates in mind to choose from. Chances are, someone will not be available on a certain date, and you’ll have to go back to your calendars starting from square one. Keep in mind the seasons and the weather.
Now look at your destination ideas. The best trips are the ones you all agree upon and not the ones that you were forced to go on. Choose the top 3 locations each, then compare, and finally, (perhaps, with some compromising), decide on your final destination. Just remember, it has to be affordable based on your budget limits and available time!
Work with your resources and figure out the option that works for everyone! Nothing is worse than manipulating or shaming the rest of the group into doing what only one person wants and can afford to do. The girls’ trip needs to be fun and encouraging, not plagued by guilt and resentment.
Once you have the destination, it’s time to look for lodging options.
Some popular ideas are:
Main Chain Hotels (like Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Embassy Suits, etc.)
They offer spacious rooms with comfortable beds, many modern accommodations, like a free Wi-Fi or a big screen TV, a fitness center, a pool, room service, and some even offer a free continental breakfast or a snack/coffee bar. This option gives you the most comfort and convenience. Main chain hotels are usually located in prime spots in the city and are within walking distance from many attractions. They offer valet and concierge services (but you also have to pay premium for these). The prices are often higher for main chain hotels than other options. You can always try Groupon or other promotional sites to try to score a good deal.
Tip: if you are a member of the frequent flyer or other mileage collection program, you can often redeem your miles by booking a main chain hotel! Score!
These hotels are usually small and very unique in their decor and accommodations. Some have an intriguing historical aspect to their buildings. They can offer a rare opportunity to experience culture and history of the olden days through the architectural details, antique decor, and artwork. Because these hotels are often nestled in the older buildings, the rooms (though thoroughly remodeled) might run small, and accommodations might be limited. However, in many cases, the prices can be cheaper than the main chain hotels’.
Bed and Breakfast
You will find many Bed and Breakfast Inns in the countryside of any state. It is usually a beautiful large old house with its multiple rooms converted into private hotel-like quarters. The name itself explains one of its best offers—a hot breakfast is always included! Not only that, but it is always homemade and often made to order.
However, be warned that while the prices might be cheaper than the main chain hotels’, the typical Bed and Breakfast Inn does not offer many modern accommodations. The bathrooms, for instance, are often located in the hall and are shared by other guests. They are called “common bathrooms”. In some cases though, you can find a room with a private bath (consider yourself lucky!). The rooms are not very large, but they are very cozy. They are often adorned with antique furniture, books, a lovely view of the garden or countryside from the window, and a large old bed with a bountiful of pillows and a quilt draping it off. If you look to stay at a quiet and quaint place that feels more like a friend’s house who brews you coffee and makes you scones as soon as you wake up, give a bed and breakfast a try!
Now, this recent trend in lodging took the travel industry by storm of popularity! This is probably the most inexpensive way of lodging nowadays. The concept behind Airbnb is that if you would like to rent out your property for any amount of time (days or weeks or months), you can do so by listing it on Airbnb website. It can be your whole house, just a room in your house, your apartment, your vacation home, your guest house, your little room above the garage, or your trailer or tiny home in the driveway. Almost anything goes, really! It’s a great way for the property owner to make some extra money. And it’s a great way for the traveler to save some money on lodging.
The difficulty for the traveler, however, is that it’s not a known quantity like a Main Chain Hotel, for example. You only go by the description and a few photos when making a booking. Here’s where the reviews of the property come in most handy as you can read about the experiences of others and make a more thoughtful decision. I think this option is best for those who plan to be out all day and only look for a bed to rest their heads at night. But I will also say that this option opens up a lot of possibilities for finding true gems that are affordable and very unique. If you are adventurous to try something new and unusual, go with Airbnb!
Friends and Family
OK, this is the cheapest way to do lodging when traveling, hands down! It’s free! If you have friends and family living in a popular destination, you might be in luck! But don’t rush to assume that you can stay with them (especially if you’re traveling as a group). If they have stated in the past that their house is always open when you are in the area, then that’s great! Give them a call and see if they are able to host on your chosen date. But, if you’ve never had such a conversation, be careful not to overstep the boundaries. You can still call and politely make a request to stay, but don’t take it personally if they decline. It doesn’t hurt to ask and explore your options, but if it doesn’t work out, just move on and find another way!
It’s always fun to visit new places and explore a new cuisine. Even if you are not a foodie, try to be adventurous and have a taste of a local trademark dish! Do a quick research and make a list of the best rated restaurant in the town. Then discuss what everyone is in the mood for. When discussing what meals you’ll be having, keep in mind the tastes and food preferences of your whole group. Try to be flexible…after all, it’s just a meal! If your friend gets to choose a restaurant for lunch, maybe you can get a choice of dinner.
Food can be an exciting way to explore the area. But keep in mind that if it becomes a source of tension, in the end, it’s just nourishment and a source of energy. Don’t waste it on arguments, but invest it into exploring and enjoying your time together instead.
There are various purposes for the getaway trips: educational, relaxation and restoration, exploring new places, outdoor fun, attending a specific play/exhibit/sporting event/concert, etc. The purpose of your trip will determine your entertainment or, in other words, how you will spend the time.
If you are visiting a new city or area, your main “entertainment” might be visiting popular tourist attractions. Consider visiting a spa, a local park, or the beach, if you are getting away to relax and rest. If you have tickets to a show or play in the area to which you travel, your main attraction will be that play. The rest of the time you can spend just walking around and enjoying your time off.
Make sure you talk about it with your friend or group and agree on what you’re doing. It might happen that some prefer shopping, while others are eager to go to a museum or roam the streets. Compromise! Either take turns doing your favorite things or split up for a couple of hours. There’s nothing wrong with an hour or so of solitude and doing what you love without pressuring others to submit to your desires. Be cordial and considerate, and others will follow suit.
“GOOD COMPANY IN A JOURNEY MAKES THE WAY SEEM SHORTER.” -IZAAK WALTON
A trip with friends does have a dangerous potential to give you a huge headache. BUT it also can prove to be the best way to reconnect with an old friend! It can also help you make new ones along the way. The choice is yours. Plan your next getaway carefully and learn to compromise and to be flexible. But most importantly, don’t forget to connect with your friends through good conversations and adventuring together!