By Donna Manz
It was a while ago that I recognized that my husband, a road warrior, really just wanted to relax with a book on his vacations. When we took all our vacations together, not only did he have to get on plane for another long trip, but, then, while at our destination, he accompanied me on excursions that really were not relaxing for him.
I discovered that he is not atypical. Most husbands I know who support their wives’ interests while vacationing, stand in a gift shop, a shoe store or – quelle horreur! – a baby clothes store, saying things like, “yeah, that works.”
And what about the single women who let nothing stop them from enjoying the rewards of travel? As I joined the legions of women who travel with friends, my husband is happy I pursue my own interests. I’m part of the emerging “girlfriend getaway” movement.
Not An Escape From Family
A girlfriend getaway is not an escape from your family. It’s about the opportunity to do things that your family isn’t interested in doing, from shopping to enrichment.
I’m grateful for the chance to travel with like-minded friends, people who love doing the same things I do …shopping, cooking classes, historic towns and medieval architecture, local culture and food. I make sure I’m with folks who share my passions.
I have tips for women travelers, those who travel with friends and those who make friends along the way, either on a tour or as part of an affinity group. If you’re not familiar with the term “affinity group,” here’s a simple description. Say you want to take a culinary tour or you are part of a college alumni tour. You start off not knowing your fellow travelers, but you soon develop friendships and a common ground with them.
Tours, particularly, are well suited to solo women travelers since most of the planning is done for you. Girlfriend getaways, though, do require some special planning consideration, usually of the safety or social kind.
What Do You Want From a Girlfriend Getaway?
The first thing I ask myself about a girlfriend getaway is what my traveling companions and I want from our trip. Are we looking for shopping experiences? Relaxation? Enrichment? Adventure? Local culture? I’m always confident that we share a compatibility of interests. It’s not going to be conducive to a fun trip if one of us wants to visit museums and the other wants cooking classes.
Along the lines of mutual interests is diet preference. As a carnivore who loves traveling with a vegan relative, it does take sacrifice to read every restaurant menu to see if there is something on it a vegan can eat. Make sure you are “okay” with this arrangement before committing yourself.
I also take into account the compatibility of budgets on any girlfriend getaway. If one of us has a budget that allows for four-star dining while another is looking to eat on the cheap, there might be a problem.
I prefer to pre-pay essentials; it helps to mitigate some of the budgetary issues. That’s why “Locally-hosted” tours give girlfriends freedom and convenience at the same time. Most essentials, including airport transfers, are included, simplifying our travel plans.
Things I’ve Learned
Over the years I’ve been traveling with friends I’ve learned many things when planning a girlfriend getaway.
I book our accommodations at a property in a popular, tourist-y neighborhood, not off-the-beaten track, particularly because I do a lot of walking and I make sure I know the area we’re staying in. Frequently, doormen look out for the interests of their guests, so I always introduce myself to the doorman after I’ve checked in. Hotel concierges can also be of considerable help since they not only give me sightseeing recommendations but suggest routing and transportation means, such as when to take a taxi. I’ve used personal drivers when it’s most economical and efficient to do so.
And when traveling with other women, I look for themed trips, such as Christmas markets or visiting medieval towns and their architecture. It turns my “getaway” into a special remembrance.
Editor’s Note: you may also enjoy The Importance of Family Travel, Couple Travel, and Wellness Travel – Good Places in Europe to Re-Charge Your Batteries