One cold afternoon last January, three friends and I started planning our summer getaway. Living in four different states, we enjoy an annual getaway together.

We range in age from our late 60s to early 70s. Everyone is retired, although I continue with my part-time encore career. Two of us are widowed, two are married. We’ve known each other for years and are very compatible.

The Fab 4

During our first getaway, now a cherished annual event, we named ourselves “The Fab 4.” One year we invited our significant others to join us on an international trip.

Although that adventure with four couples was fun, it changed our focus. The following year we returned to our women-only tradition and decided to keep it this way.

For 2018 we chose an intriguing new destination, the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York. That’s where we rented a big Victorian house, complete with an inviting front porch for conversations after dinner.

With shared common areas, we usually made breakfast together in the kitchen. But we each had our own bedroom to accommodate early versus late risers and snorers versus light sleepers.

A Variety of Activities

All of us enjoyed many educational and entertaining lectures, concerts, a festival of fine crafts, walks, high tea with poetry in the historic hotel and theater at this lifelong learning campus. Having all worked as academics of a sort, the venue was an excellent fit.

There was also time alone for reading, journaling, meditating, bird watching, kayaking on a calm lake, photography, napping, shopping in boutiques and even a manicure – something to delight everyone.

We prepared a few easy meals together and enjoyed exploring the local farmers market and some nearby restaurants.

Each night, we gathered on the wraparound front porch, enjoying late-night conversations with delicious wine, herbal tea and tasty snacks – which, of course, included healthy dark chocolate!

During those later hours, we reviewed the day and then focused on one selected subject. In this relaxed and uninterrupted setting, away from daily responsibilities and activities, we easily shared what was in our minds and hearts about several topics while fireflies twinkled nearby.

It was a truly enriching and supportive time.

Special Getaway Conversations

These are some concerns we shared:

Relationships with Our Adult Child(ren) and Extended Family

It was comforting to learn we’re all challenged by at least one relative at times. I realized I wasn’t the only one with a sibling who’s purposely remained out of touch for years.

One friend shared that she’s practicing active listening with her daughter without suggesting immediate solutions to ‘fix’ her problems.

Health Issues We’re Facing and Wellness Tips Working for Us

As we age, we’re dealing with small and even some major health challenges. Two of my friends had already successfully tried a healthy eating program that appealed to me.

After our conversation, they decided to restart the program for 30 days, and I committed to it too. It feels fantastic to say that I kept my promise and am pleased with the results. Having my buddies encourage me was especially helpful.

Favorite Books, Movies, Apps, Podcasts, Websites and Blogs

I was interested in learning my friends’ recommendations about favorite cultural events and technological applications and was happy to know they like several of the same online sites that I frequent.

The conversation reminded me of a blog I hadn’t reviewed for a few years. Now I’ve subscribed and read it regularly again.

Changes We Committed to Make When We Got Home

Takeaways from our time together included a new approach we committed to making when we returned home. The week’s theme, provided by our lifelong learning center, was called “The Art of Play.” I pledged to do a better job of playing, which I sometimes neglect when I get too focused on my work.

Since our time together, I’m glad to report that I added three enjoyable activities to my calendar: a concert date with my fiancé, lunch with a local friend not seen for a while and a new yoga class.

My three companions made their commitments also, with a promise to check in with everyone next month. Yes, we’re holding each other accountable.

Getting away with my girlfriends was certainly enjoyable. But it was much more than just a good time. It was about strengthening the bonds of our friendship. Research-based evidence shows that women who nurture close relationships are happier, have fewer health problems, are more resilient and live longer.

During our final evening together, we decided where and when we want to spend time together again next year. Also, we all promised to keep in touch by email and phone.

What Makes a Satisfying Getaway

Your holiday with girlfriends doesn’t need to be far away, expensive or lengthy.

A satisfying getaway can include just one or a few favorite friends. It could be a picnic in a nearby state park, where you walk the trails together and share thoughts about your lives or a drive to a nearby town for an arts festival, including a leisurely meal.

But, maybe you and your friends will decide to splurge one year with a cruise or a resort vacation. The venue can be whatever your group agrees on beforehand.

Over the years, I’ve learned how essential it is for me to invest in female friendships that add greatly to my happiness. Indeed, other women have helped me through my most challenging times and have also celebrated with me during the great times.

Yes, I’ll continue to make time for the memorable trips with these women, whom I cherish dearly.

Have you enjoyed a getaway with girlfriends? What was the best part for you? Please share a tip that added to the success of your time together.

Kathleen RehlKathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., CFP®, CeFT™ is passionate about inspiring her “widowed sisters” and their advisors through her speaking, writing, research, and mentoring. She authored the award-winning book, “Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows.” Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, CNBC, USA Today, other publications, and online. Check out her website at http://kathleenrehl.com.

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