7 Great Girlfriend Getaways
I took my best trip in many months last week with my sister Anne. We share a lot of common interests: theater (she's an actress), movies, music... and baseball. Specifically, the San Francisco Giants, the team with which we were raised.
Feeling restless after a long, strange winter, we opted for a spur-of-the-moment getaway to warmer climes: Arizona, home of sun, cheap cocktails and spring training baseball. It seemed the perfect destination for two women: It's safe, it's friendly, and you don't have to include a member of the male species to enjoy a good time. We shopped for Southwestern tsotchkes, luxuriated in two Giants wins and never wore makeup. While still in our chlorine-scented swimwear, and before venturing out for Mexican food, we watched the sun go down from the balcony of our wonderful Saguaro Hotel room in Scottsdale, gin-and-tonics in hand, and I thought, "Why would I ever want to take a vacation with a guy again?"
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has discovered that so-called girlfriend getaways are the bomb. According to the Chicago Tribune, American women took 45 million trips last year, either alone or with girlfriends and female family members. April Merenda, president of Gutsy Women Travel, says that when she launched her company 10 years ago, 20 percent of women over 40 were single, divorced or widowed; now that stands at 40 percent. And, she added, more than half of all married women have taken trips without the hubby.
Enthused about future trips I might take, I polled some friends to see where they stood on girlfriend getaways -- and where they like to go.
Here's what they said:
Mary Roach, author, Packing for Mars
Once a year, I meet a good friend from college up at Indian Springs, near Calistoga, which is about halfway between her home and mine. We drift around in the mineral pool, catching up and relaxing and getting all pruney. Some years we do the naked mud bath thing. The last time I did, I got an email the next day from a reader, saying, "I think I recognized you in the Indian Springs mud room on Sunday." This kind of unhinged me. You stand up from the tub and there's this horrible sucking noise and you've got clumps of mud clinging to you. And someone was in there looking at me, thinking, "You know, I think that's Mary Roach."
Wendy A. Merrill, author, Falling Into Manholes
I grew up with three sisters, so a girlfriend getaway is as good as it gets for me. With girlfriends you don't have to shave your legs, wear a thong or even be especially interesting. You can be yourself, in cupcake flannel PJs and a ponytail. We can play Scrabble and watch Sleepless in Seattle without apology. I find that I don't have to argue about where to go or what to eat with my girlfriends; the pressure is off. Why is it that we are so much easier on our girlfriends than our men? I've been to Paris, Big Sur, Sonoma, London and Sea Ranch with girlfriends. I've been to all these places with men, as well, but often ended up breaking up during the trip. This has never happened with a girlfriend.
Christine Bronstein, founder of social networking site A Band of Wives
I love the practice of getting away with women friends. Soon I'm going away with a group of women for a retreat. We call our group 10/10 Playing Big (10 women meeting 10 times to help mentor and support each other -- a little like a personal advisory board). The group includes tech executives, CEOs, a self-love guru and many more amazing women. We are going away to relax, get to know each other better and do some team-building things the female way: with yoga, food and wine!
Ellen Sussman, author, French Lessons
For me, Rancho La Puerta, a fitness spa in Tecate, Mexico, is the best girlfriend getaway. I go every year (I'm lucky enough to teach a writing workshop there) and always take a friend or one of my daughters. We hike, practice yoga, take classes we'd never be able to take at home (cardio drumming! African dance!), eat great food, and have plenty of time for massages, naps and long talks over a bottle of wine late at night.
Tiffany Shlain, documentary filmmaker, Connected: An Autoblogograph About Love, Death & Technology
I was at a birthday party of a friend, and she received this great card that said: "When you are young it's all about your girlfriends, then when you're older it's all about your boyfriends, then at this phase in life, it's all about your girlfriends." For me, this phase in life includes trips with the ladies -- I am all about the girlfriend getaways. I just went to [technology, film and music conference] SXSW with one of my best friends, and now I am determined to actually make it to a gathering of my girlfriends at a yoga retreat in Mexico.
Dr. Melina Jampolis, author, The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life
I'm married now with a toddler, but my favorite quick getaway with my girlfriends was always Las Vegas. For some reason, inhibitions begin to fade away on the plane ride, and I always had a memorable time! The adrenalin rush of the gambling combined with the free cocktails and lazy days by the pool were the perfect combination. And the flirtations and very brief vacation "romances" were a bonus! With my more cultured friends, a trip to Napa Valley visiting winemaker friends was always at the top of my list. If I had the budget to stay at a nice hotel and book a massage or spend the post-wine-tasting/happy hour by the pool -- even better! Finally, for big trips (reserved for really close friends or friends with whom I got along VERY well), a new faraway location was always fun. Sydney, Australia, topped that list -- Bondi Beach is absolutely incredible!
Sandy Lerner (aka Ava Farmer), author, Second Impressions
My friends and I go to Tucson every year for the Gem & Jewelry Show, as we are all "beading pals." My home (where there is a delicious studio) is where we have our weekly "bead and bitch" sessions on Thursday nights. Because I live in Virginia now, we also go to New York sometimes for events, to see plays, and sometimes to get our hair done.
SecondAct asks: If you enjoy girlfriend getaways, what destinations do you recommend?