I’m really not sure if I am the odd one out here, but at the age of 37, after two children and ten years together with my husband, I managed to successfully get on a plane with six of my best girlfriends and escape Australia for a girl’s week away. No kids. No husbands. Just us. And champagne… lots of champagne!
It was hands down one of the best weeks of my entire life. So, some of you may have achieved this several times over and already have cottoned on to the fact that a girl’s trip is secretly the BEST way to travel, but for me it has been an awakening – and one I am more than happy to share with my fellow travelling sisters in the effort of promoting such a trip for us all. It should be a right of passage. It should be written into marriage contracts. It should be compulsory for every woman on planet earth. And here’s why it worked so well...
1. Snowball Effect
All it takes (after the initial drunken gathering where someone loosely suggests the idea and everyone over-enthusiastically agrees!) is for one of the husbands / partners to be on board with the idea. The minute one of them says, “yeah, that’s cool”, then any hubby/boyfriend who isn’t wholeheartedly supportive afterwards suddenly looks like an over-protective control freak! And no bloke wants to be that bloke…
2. The Family Support
Let’s not be silly about this, if you’ve got small children involved, you’re not going to leave your working hubby alone with them and expect everyone to cope for an entire week without you. Not bragging. Just fact. For your own peace of mind, plan early and organize your mother in law, your sister, your nanny, your aunty… anyone who you know to be a calming female influence on your kids’ lives to be on call for witching hour / weekend support / daycare pickup etc. More than anything you know your children will be bathed and fed of an evening.
3. Expect the Unexpected
So, the seven of us sat at the airport having a cheeky glass (ok two) of champagne before our flight – (this comes after weeks of the airline we were travelling with threatening a union-style strike against the country we were visiting!) – one of us received a phone call from the airline security claiming she had an “un-declared chainsaw in her suitcase and was required at security immediately to explain herself.” Of course we assumed it was a ridiculous joke! Turns out it wasn’t a hoax. But thank fully it also turned out the airline had stuffed up the bag tags and it was not her suitcase! But for the briefest moment the seven of us actually looked at each other, frozen mid champagne sip and felt the holiday slip from our fingers. Let me just say also that for the remainder of the holiday, absolutely every single champagne toast we did was toasted as “Chainsaw!”
4. Hello Kitty!
Every one of us was travelling on a different budget. And we were staying in a self-catering beach villa. There was the question of grocery shopping and alcohol budgeting. Some of us had dietary requirements, others just interesting eating habits. Some ate more, others less. But in the interests of keeping it simple, we decided on a daily kitty. It was roughly $50 au per person per day and we did communal shops, had a communal fridge and bar fridge. I have to say, if this was a house with men or children it would NOT have been as simple. Women have that amazing tendency to be organized and respectful – especially considering we were all Mums! It worked a treat. Agree on the plan of attack before you leave home just so everyone is cool.
5. Embrace the Diversity
There can be a bizarre tendency when a group of women unite, to somehow clone each other in some way or another. If you are capable of resisting this urge and encouraging every other woman on the trip to entirely express their own style, routines, desired travel activities, etc then you’re going to bring a whole lot more colour and creativity into your trip. Ie, FUN! Some of us woke up and went for runs / yoga / stand up paddles in the morning. Others slept in for what was a much needed sleeping break away from early starts at home with kids. Some of us read books in the sun while others went souvenir shopping among the crowds of tourists. Some were natural organisers or tidy-uppers, others just let it all hang out in holiday-mode. Some preferred hard rock music till midnight while others happily crashed early with eye masks on. And I loved each and every different aspect of every girl for it!
6. Take a moment
In order for the week to be sustainable, your energy levels do need a moment alone just to reboot and step back to observe and appreciate. It is so easy for the days to flash past and for it to end in a crazy blurr. Remember that this is a trip for you as a person, as much as it is for you as a group of women. Find a moment. Sit in a hammock. Go for a solo stroll. Have a nanna nap in the sun. Have your massage. Do a little beach meditation. Your adrenal glands may take a while to adjust but it is so important to just stop, on your own and breathe. You’ve earned it.
7. Be Contactable
Of course the toddler-gods will always decide to send a horrendous vomiting gastro virus to both your children the minute you step foot on the plane to go on this trip. If you ever want to go on another trip like it again, it is vital that you are able to “be there for them” while not actually being there. A ten minute facetime chat with your family to let them know you are safe and having a nice time, but “missing them desperately” does go a long way for those left at home. If you’ve ever been the one at home with the screaming vomiting kids while your partner is in paradise with their mates, you’ll remember that the feeling sucks. A lot. Be respectful.
8. Reckless Abandon
My bed buddy for the week confessed on our second last night that her husband had instructed her to come back less stressed after the trip. She also confessed that she had set herself a goal for the holiday. To skinny dip before midnight!!! Needless to say, sunset came, word spread and before we knew it, the seven of us were in the water, starkers, with our champagne glasses, music echoing off the water, not a soul in sight for miles and memories made for each of us that I am certain each of us will treasure until our dying days. Inhibitions gone. Friendships strengthened. A moment in time that would never otherwise have happened in our ordinary lives, in our ordinary worlds.
9. The Silent Ride Home
If you’ve ever seen the film “Stand By Me” then you’ll know immediately the sensation. It’s as if you’ve crossed oceans together. Survived adversities (Chainsaws). Stepped outside comfort zones and shared secrets. Found new discoveries about yourself. Felt the weight of the world disappear and your options are suddenly endless again. It is, therefore, a bizarre, emotional, silent journey home, returning to our lives, our choices, our stresses, our loves, our babies, our lovers, knowing that the journey has ended, but the unity of women is strong. Be prepared for the onslaught of noise, vomit, mess, guilt, washing, Taronga Zoo, more noise and more vomit. It is entirely overwhelming!!!
10. The Follow-Up
Before you all return to the resignation that the holiday is over, organise one little follow up, post-holiday catch-up. A coffee, a yoga class, a walk, a pizza at the pub… anything as a group for after you return home. It is honestly the most important thing you can do after coming home, to debrief, to console each other of the fact that the “holiday is over” and to possible start planning the next trip, same time next year!!! Cheers to that! “Chainsaw!”