We all need a girlfriends getaway now and then. Time away from spouses, kids, jobs, chores and responsibilities spent reconnecting with the women in our lives is the just the type of rejuvenation we need to keep on keeping on. Find out what one woman learned (and did wrong) when planning a long weekend with her college roommates.
Planning a Great Girlfriend Getaway
Old friends are the best friends. But when life and family and far-flung homesteads make regular get-togethers a challenge, it’s time to plan a girlfriend getaway.
Here are the steps I took to set up the best girls’ weekend ever for my three college roommates and me.
1. Start Early
When you’re talking about coordinating complicated schedules among 4 women with jobs, families and other obligations, simply choosing a date can be a huge undertaking.
It took us many emails over a couple of weeks to find a weekend that worked for everyone. We started planning in the winter for a trip we eventually took mid-summer.
2. Decide Where to Meet
Several of us live in and near Chicago, but one lives in Upstate New York. So we had to decide: Would we road trip and meet somewhere in the middle? Choose a spot closer to Chicago and have the New Yorker fly in? Head to the east coast? Splurge on a girlfriend getaway to a beachfront resort in the Caribbean or a getaway package to a luxe spa resort in Palm Beach?
We ultimately choose to meet (sort of) in the middle, opting to spend a long weekend at a lakehouse in Michigan.
3. Decide How to Spend the Time
Would it be a pampering weekend filled with spa treatments, wine tasting, and yoga classes at a boutique hotel? An urban adventure spent sightseeing and lingering over brunch? A nature respite spent hiking in a state park or horseback riding across a field?
We ultimately decided that our demanding jobs and harried lives called for a vacation with a more laid-back vibe. We wanted to be able to unwind and just spend time together. The plan called for lots of time spent drinking wine, laughing at our college antics, and creating our own foodie experiences right in our own kitchen. That meant finding a place with a kitchen, comfortable spots to sit and chat and just enough area interest to make it worth venturing out for a day trip.
4. Make a Reservation
This is the step where our planning fell apart. Once we had the date on our calendars, had narrowed down the destination and had a pretty good idea we wanted to chill for the weekend, we got busy with the rest of our lives and neglected to actually book the trip.
By the time we realized we hadn’t booked anything, it was already May. As we poured over Airbnb’s website, we realized that many of the best places in Michigan were already booked. Or worse, they wanted week-long rentals and wouldn’t accept a long weekend booking. After an hour long conference call with all of us on the line, we agreed to book a house on a small lake on the Michigan-Indiana border.
5. Agree on the Details
Because we were staying in a house with a kitchen and wanted the weekend to be focused on reconnecting, we decided we would all bring stuff to cook and drink. But we didn’t really get too prescriptive about it.
So it wasn’t surprising when we had waaaaaaay more food than any four women could eat in one 3-day weekend (although we did manage to make a pretty big dent in the wine supply). And we had four cars parked in the driveway, including a Kia Soul I was test driving for the week. More on that in a minute.
6. Make Some Sort of Plan
I watched the Amy Poehler girls getaway movie “Wine Country” before our trip and swore I wouldn’t be Amy Poehler, planning an itinerary “for everything we’re going to do, minute by minute.” I may have erred on the side of being too laissez-faire. For example, I wish I had investigated the nearby towns so we would have known that everything – and I do mean everything – was closed on Sunday in the town we chose to visit on Sunday. Had we known, we could have gone on Saturday.
We didn’t really suffer from not having a minute-by-minute plan. Instead, we spent time kayaking and floating on the lake, sitting on the dock enjoying the natural beauty of the countryside, watching the sun set, cooking, eating, and sipping wine. It wasn’t the Ritz-Carlton, but it was the right spot for us.
What I Drove
The Kia Soul is a candidate for Family Vehicle of the Year. I can easily see why it would be a great option for a young family. It’s fun to drive, has full length side curtain airbags, and the 2020 Soul X-Line model I drove retails for only $22,615.
It worked for our 4-person outings because, despite its relatively small size, the Kia Soul has plenty of back seat space for two adults. We even did a test-sit to see how well it would fit three. It was a little cramped, but you could make it work for short road trips.
We did not need to install car seats or put little ones in the back seat. Still, access to the back seat would make it easy. Plus, the seats fold down on a 60- 40 configuration that makes it possible to carry a kid and a lot of gear. The 4-cylinder engine is rated for 33 miles/gallon on the highway and 30 mpg overall.
The only two downsides we found: The lack of air vents and USB outlets in the back seat. That meant dying phones in the back seat and turning the air conditioning up to high, freezing us in the front seat to keep the back seat passengers cool enough on a blazing hot day.