Have you ever taken a holiday with close girlfriends?
I’ve read and heard stories about these kinds of shared-dream holidays that have gone spectacularly wrong. Disagreements emerged at every turn: where and what to eat, how much alcohol was ok, how early to get up, how much to do in one day, which side trips made sense, how much each person was willing to spend, etc. etc.
I realized after doing a little research that close-friend getaways can be a disaster. Sometimes ending up in the loss of long cherished friendships.
But in my experience, if you can agree ahead of time on the kind of trip you are going to take; and if you make and keep your priorities clear, a vacation with close girlfriends can be life-changing in the best of ways! Let me tell you about mine.
Some years ago, I invited my dear friend Claire to join me at a place in Mexico where my husband and I often stay. As a couple, we have had some joyous and memorable holidays there. The condo looks out at the azure-blue Caribbean Sea. The beach is sandy and white and not overcrowded. Most days are very warm and sunny. It’s a kind of paradise.
But holidays often come at a time of year when one is feeling pretty tired. So, Claire and I decided that rest was a primary requirement for our joint getaway in early February. We agreed that we may or may not travel around Mexico after getting to the condo.
Though she is a dynamo of a woman, she was suffering at that time from very bad asthma. She thought the sun would do her a lot of good. But we did not want to end up having a “drain-cation.” So we agreed upon careful parameters.
After a few days in the sun, Claire’s symptoms of asthma improved remarkably. Deep rest, many hours of daylight, quiet meals, laughter and great conversation all added up to a shift in health that was pretty life-changing for her. After two weeks, we both returned home inspired and rested. Our work goals clearer; our energies renewed. We decided to do it again the following year.
When the time came a year later to plan another girlfriend escape, we included Claire’s daughter, Erin, who, in her late 30s, is also a close friend of mine. This vacation ended up being even more memorable and transformative than the first. Both women are deep thinkers, but they also like to have fun. Again, we did not travel. Our main expenditures were the flight and condo costs. Perfect for our budgets.
Rest was a priority for each of us. Erin, who is in the documentary film business, has a brutal work schedule. So she also welcomed some down time. But we found things to do that rejuvenated us not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually, as well.
Here are a few of the activities that brought us joy and helped us to shift our perspectives in ways that have improved our lives. Perhaps you too can plan these kinds of things on your own girlfriend vacation.
On our first trip together, Claire had brought some silky tops with the idea that we would take photos of ourselves in our bathing suits with these light cover-ups on the balcony overlooking the ocean. In her mind, these would be “here we are in our 60s and still smashing it” photos. When Erin joined us, we decided to do these quirky “photoshoots” again. And we have done this each year for 7 years.
We know after all this time that these photoshoots are much more than merely taking pictures of one another. They stimulate long and deep conversations about what it means to grow older as a woman.
We observe the changes in our bodies as inevitable. But we explore more carefully the changes in how we feel about life. Can we find ways to maintain a positive outlook and spark some magic in our daily lives? Can we help one another to do this? And how?
I believe that it was youthful Erin who encouraged a midnight topless swim in the ocean. It’s not often that you will see 60-something women take off their tops and dive into inky late-night waters, but there we were, following Erin’s lead. It was exhilarating and naughty.
Fun to feel that kind of freedom for a few stolen minutes. That simple, zany outing opened up some pretty dazzling conversation about ways to spark more joy in our lives. Not just on vacation, but in everyday life.
Another night, we lay outside on a mattress on the balcony, watching the stars. We listened to the rhythm of the waves and talked about feeling ageless in that moment. Then we danced to 60s’ music in our pajamas until sleep beckoned.
These are simple, inexpensive things to do on a vacation. Some will find this type of vacation too limited – lacking in opportunities to see new things in a foreign country. From these no-frills kind of holidays, I have learned what a boon it is to have the support of women friends as the years go by.
Recent studies have shown us that we are more likely to age well and live longer if we have good friends and a loving social framework. I’m discovering that one way to build that framework with little stress is to take easy-going vacations together in a beautiful place. Perhaps this kind of getaway is also intriguing to you?
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Have you ever taken a girlfriend vacation? If so, did you enjoy it? What kinds of things did you do that gave you happiness? If not, are you drawn to the idea?