Girlfriend getaways: Sometimes girls just want to have fun - out of town with friends

Friday, August 3, 2012
Jessica Campbell and Jen Freeze (submitted photo)

There's no better way to bond with your gal pals than taking a vacation together. It's your chance to escape the pressure of everyday life and bliss out with your girlfriends, just like you used to do.

"I travel with girlfriends all the time! I've been all over the world with people I love, and going with girlfriends is a completely different experience," says Carolyn Kempf, owner of Elite Travel in Cape Girardeau.

But as much as you love your friends, spending 24/7 together is often unchartered territory, says Kempf. The last thing you want is for a relationship to turn sour even as you vacation in paradise. So before you go, get everyone together for a powwow to set boundaries and plan out your trip. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Splurge for privacy. Make sure the hotel will guarantee you two beds per room -- not just accept requests for them. Kempf recommends suites with a separate bedroom and a pullout couch, and a vanity and mirror separate from the bathroom. "If your roommate wants to stay up and watch TV until 2 a.m. and you are a person who goes to bed at 8 p.m., you won't be friends for long if you don't have a way to shut a door for some privacy," she says. She also recommends finding a hotel with a vanity and mirror separate from the bathroom, which makes it easier for everyone to get ready.

2. Schedule bathroom time. Some of us can be ready to go in 15 minutes flat; others need an hour or more. Before you hit the road, talk to your girlfriends about how long they need to get ready, then figure out who should shower first, and so on.

3. Talk about your likes and dislikes. "If you hate shopping, don't travel with a shopper -- unless you are OK saying, 'Hey, while you shop, I might check out the art museum or sit at a coffee shop uploading my photos on Facebook,'" says Kempf. Discuss in advance what you will or won't do together, and remember it's OK to go your separate ways once in awhile.

4. Make some plans, but don't go overboard. You don't want to spend the whole trip in that awful volley of "What do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do?" Says Kempf, "You will get home and realize you did nothing!" On the other hand, it's no fun for anyone if you map everything out to the minute. "Balance is the key to anything travel-related," says Kempf.

Destination New Orleans

The crew: Jen Freeze and Jessica Campbell

What they did: Says Jen, "We left Cape on a Wednesday evening, drove to Tunica, Miss., and stayed at Harrah's Casino Hotel. Thursday we drove to Biloxi, Miss., and stayed at the IP Casino Hotel. On Friday we drove to New Orleans and stayed for two nights about two blocks from Bourbon Street. We don't really like to gamble, but the casino hotels were very cheap -- I guess they figure you're going to spend a bunch of money at the casino, but that's not what we were there for. In Biloxi, we spent the afternoon at the rooftop pool, just laying out, having a few cocktails and relaxing. The next day we relaxed on the beach. In New Orleans, we did a lot of walking around the city -- taking tours of the cemeteries and the Garden District, riding the trolley cars and of course going out on Bourbon Street.

Highlight of the trip: Taking the tour through the Garden District of New Orleans. The homes were beautiful, and we had a great tour guide. Bourbon Street was also a lot of fun -- there's great live music in every bar.

Best part of traveling with friends: You can share each other's wardrobe so you technically don't have to pack as much! It's also a great bonding experience. Jessica and I have traveled together to New Orleans twice now and have so many fun memories. I imagine we'll make this trip a yearly adventure, as it's not too expensive.

Must-do for girlfriend getaways: Plan many months in advance for big getaways. Trying to find a date that works with everyone's schedule can be a challenge. Also, find one person who is incredibly organized and will put together a list of everything you will need for your trip and who will bring what.

Becky Davenport and Jessie Canoy (submitted photo)

Destination Memphis

The crew: Becky Davenport and Jessie Canoy -- girlfriends since age 2

What they did: Says Becky, "We visited Beale Street, stopped at several pubs along the way, watched the street performers and checked out Midtown Memphis. We ate at Westy's, went to the riverfront and had pedicures. We really didn't do anything spectacular -- we just got away without our kids.

Highlight of the trip: We lost our car! Our phones were almost dead and we were exhausted, but we could not stop laughing. Why was this the highlight? Who knows -- but it is the one thing that sticks out in my head. We parked at the riverfront and I even "checked in" on Facebook as being there, but I forgot that I did. When it was time to go, we could not remember how to get back to our car. Only after asking a traffic cop for help did we discover we had walked past the street we needed about six times.

Best part of traveling with friends: When traveling with kids, you have to be organized, have bed times and keep a schedule. With friends, you get to laugh and have fun. There are no bedtimes. You can stay up all night talking about people from your past, you can sleep until 11 a.m. and have breakfast for lunch, you can tell jokes that you would never say in front of your kids, and most importantly you have the chance to connect and have conversations with adults.

Must-do for girlfriend getaways: Girlfriend getaways are meant to be relaxing, and nothing is better than pedicures and wine. Also, you must program your GPS to sound like an Australian -- it just makes the trip a bit more steamy and gives you something to giggle at. My best advice is do not make a bunch of plans. Pick a destination, splurge on a hotel (yes, get the best) and only pick one or two attractions to visit. We went with the flow and found ourselves having fun. I think if I had traveled like I normally do (with lots of stops and places to visit), the trip would not have been as memorable and we wouldn't have had a chance to reconnect. We'd have had memories of visiting attractions, but not memories of things that we said, did or laughed about."

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