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How to Have a Drama-Free Girls’ Trip

With cooler weather, an increase in vaccinations, travel deals, and a universal case of cabin fever, many women are considering taking a girls’ trip with their closest friends. Whether there are two of you taking a staycation at a local airbnb or a gaggle of 8 women who are flying cross country, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind so that the trip works to bring you closer together and doesn't become a source of tension.

Today we’re going to give you:

  • 2 benefits of taking a girls’ trip

  • 4 things to plan for to help everyone keep their sanity

  • The 1 thing you have to do if this trip ends up going sideways

At this point, a girls’ trip has become a staple of every Real Housewives episode. The women are already experiencing some kind of tension when a cast member suggests they all take a trip -- as if going to Mexico isn't just a matter of moving their cursing and table-throwing from one country to another.

While many could argue that some of those ladies aren't really friends to begin with (so drama is inevitable), there are a few cardinal trip rules they break that even the most well-intentioned friends can commit.

We want to preface this by assuring you that girls' trips can be super therapeutic, and there are actually two benefits of going away together:

  • The University of Kansas quantified how many hours it takes to make a friend, and they found it takes 90 hours to feel like someone is your friend, 200 hours to feel like someone is your best friend. It helps to have an extended period of time together, like a trip, because it expedites the process of getting closer to one another. Oftentimes we come away from trips feeling like we really got to know somebody (for better or worse).

  • It creates a shared experience, and research shows us that a lot of strong friendships are rooted in shared experiences.

At the heart of it, girls’ trips are a really powerful tool to help create connection and depth in a friendship. In order to make the trip a success, there are 4 things you want to do to make sure things go smoothly and to help manage everyone’s expectations:

1. Account for payment arrangements.

We know this doesn’t sound sexy, but it’s necessary. For example, you’re going to have to figure out Uber/Lyft before you go. The rates for these services have increased by 50%, and it looks like ride price inflation is here to stay. This is something to consider: how are you all covering this? Is everyone OK with it? How will you manage the cost of each car pick-up? WIll one person cover the rides, and everyone reimburses them at the end?

While it sounds small, these misunderstandings could cause unnecessary tension. There’s no harm in over communicating instead of making assumptions.

2. Create an itinerary that has a healthy balance of group time and alone time.

Close your eyes and picture a scene from the movie that will be your girls’ trip. You’re likely picturing you all sitting poolside together or doing some kind of sightseeing - together. We bet you don’t picture any scenes by yourself, but maybe you should. Autonomy is a surprisingly critical requirement in friendship. A research study from 2019 found that relatedness is important in a friendship, but the relationship is even more fulfilling when there’s autonomy. This proves that it’s more important to maintain a sense of self if you want to maintain a healthy friendship.

So how can you intentionally carve out time for people to have the freedom and space to do what they want to do on their own? If you have a super fun excursion in the morning, maybe everyone regroups after lunch. It also provides some much needed rest between outings, so you don't burn-out and get that dreaded, “I was ready to leave yesterday,” feeling.

3. How can you give everyone a voice in the planning?

We know sometimes there are default planners in the group (shoutout to our Type A friends), and it’s easy to assume that everyone will want to do the same things. But it’s helpful to take just a few seconds to individually ask everyone what one thing would make this trip good for them. This makes people feel appreciated and seen - two very important things in any friendship.

4. Consider the group chemistry.

If you have two ladies in the group who can’t get along during a 2-hour brunch, what makes you think a weekend in Miami would be any different? Group chemistry matters. Think through the history of the women going, their personalities in relation to one another, and their personalities in relation to the location/experience

Now, if things go sideways (and sometimes they do): bring it up and keep it moving.

What happens all too often is that too many female friendships end prematurely because we’re avoiding a certain conversation or we’ve created a baseless story in our head. You can say, “Hey, last night I wasn’t cool with _______. So can we make sure that doesn't happen tonight”? You have to call out moments that make you uncomfortable or cross boundaries. You have to announce it to your friends and not assume that you “shouldn’t have to say it”. You have to communicate your needs, boundaries, and expectations.

And then...keep it moving. Sometimes things are a little awkward, so naturally you find yourself withdrawing, but that can sometimes contribute to feelings of distance. So even though we might not be feeling as close as we normally are, and assuming you’ve communicated the issue, keep going with whatever your rhythm normally is. Show your friend that conflict is normal, and you can work it out.

As your new official friendship coach, here’s your homework:

If you plan on going on a trip with friends, we challenge you to ask each lady what is the one thing she needs to happen for the trip to feel like a success - and the one thing she feels would be a total downer. She may respond with tangible, specific things or she may speak more broadly to the experience over all, but either way it’s just a great, quick way to begin the process of managing expectations and creating an experience everyone loves.

We’re rooting for you always on your ongoing journey towards better female friendships.

Danielle Jackson, Friendship Coach and Speaker

To learn more, come check out our free resources or share with us on Instagram @friendforward or on Tik Tok!

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We provide advice on how to make friends, navigating toxic relationships, friendship breakups, and other issues common in female platonic relationships. Want to get closer with your girl friends? We can help!

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