Travel Talk: Traveling in circles, and having fun
There are trips, and then there are trips.
Most of my travel over the years has been with Bud and the kids, or Bud and kids and grandkids, or Bud and our group of friends, or just the two of us. Travel is a huge part of our lives. But no matter how skilled (okay
. . . obsessive) I am at helping organize things, stuff happens and trips – at least parts of trips – can be stressful, tiring and demanding. Last week, though, I did a five-night trip that was relaxing and fun from start to finish. I went to Florida with six girlfriends. No kids. No grandkids. No husbands. Just us. How does it work?
The Group: A few decades ago a group of us neighborhood women got together and decided it would be a good idea to have a “Mother’s Weekend.” We’d leave the husbands home with the kids and take off for a few days of restorative activity (or nonactivity, as it happened). We wanted to give our husbands and kids some serious bonding time while giving ourselves a break from the demands of running households and families. Not surprisingly, the concept took hold. That first year, 1986, we went to a cottage in northern Vermont. We slept in beds, on couches – even in sleeping bags on the floor. We ate too much, danced and sang until the wee hours, talked and laughed until we cried. We were stunned at the fun we had!
Since then we’ve wandered to the coast of Maine, a northern New Hampshire lake, the coast of Rhode Island, Boston, even the Bahamas and Las Vegas, not to mention the sunny west coast of Florida! Now, instead of Mother’s Weekends, we call them “Ladies Weekends” – after all, the kids are grown and long gone. Most of us are retired so we can extend the trips a few days. Oh, we may tire earlier in the evening now, but the concept is the same. Just us girls.
Success: The long-term success of trips like this depends on several factors. First is a common thread or general compatibility; in our case, it was proximity in the neighborhood and a passel of kids about the same age. We carpooled and sat through season after season of school sports together. But it could be any thread: pals from college, a sport like golfing, even a reading club.
Next is a level of commitment. Saying, “Oh, maybe this year I’ll stay home” won’t keep the group together. Keeping the schedule consistent helps. We started in October because of Columbus Day weekend. Almost 30 years later, we still plan for October. At the same time, you need flexibility. A couple of cars/drivers lets some shop while others curl up and read or float in the pool. We generally buy “make your own” breakfast stuff and go out for lunch and/or dinner – after all we’re there for a break! For some things, division of labor works; someone brings the cards and dominoes, someone else is handy with figures and helps split restaurant bills. A great benefit of electronics, though, is that virtually all restaurants do individual checks now. Easy!
Kicking it Up: Our group is informal, low key and somewhat penny-pinching. A few of us have summer cottages or second homes that work perfectly as no-cost October retreats. But why not consider a travel company that specializes in group travel for women, be it to a spa in Arkansas or an African safari? Whether you have a group or want to find/join one, visit sites like women-traveling.com, womentravelingtheworld.com or transitionsabroad.com to get started.