Attending an all women's college, I took for granted the almost-daily "Girls' Days/Nights" that happened by default. The planning process consisted of walking down the hall to my best friend Rachie's room, where we all often gathered, and saying, "What should we do today?" Fast-forward through serious relationships, careers, and families, and the opportunities for once-regular (or uninterrupted—thank you, Sloan) time with girlfriends is few and far between. A simple “Drinks tonight?” text no longer suffices. While I have standing dates with my closest friends for dinner and brunch several times a month, I was reminded on a quick trip with my best friends to Palm Springs last year and again at a spa day last month, that nothing can replace a weekend-long (or even day-long) hangout. It takes a lot more planning these days, but it's worth it. Here are the tips I've used to plan successful girls' days (and nights!):
This may seem obvious, but it's also the most difficult part of planning: Find a date that works for everyone and put it in your calendar as a non-negotiable. This may need to happen a couple months in advance, so start a text chain as early as possible. Having it on the books will make planning easier, and you’ll have something to look forward to.
When you only have one day, don’t waste it in car. If possible, pick activities or a destination within a short drive of everyone so that no one is stuck with a long route. Utilize your hours together! Before heading to the spa last month (which is about an hour away), we all met at a house central to everyone, then made our first stop five minutes later at a coffee shop. Kicking off the trip with a latte and croissants made it feel even more like a treat.
Having a girls’ day means something different to everyone, and just because you’re hoping for absolute relaxation, doesn't mean the rest of the group is excited to spend an afternoon marathon-napping. Check in regularly so that all members are able to give input on what they need and want to do at that moment. Maybe it’s a stiff drink, a massage, a workout—compromise to make it rewarding for all, and know that it isn't the end of the world if the group has to split for a few hours.
When delegating tasks, consider what everyone excels at or enjoys doing. For example, my idea of a good time is eating, so I usually find the restaurants or bring snacks. Rachel is hands-down the most organized person I know, so she’s our resident timeline and map-maker. Cristina has a knack for finding the coolest activities wherever we are and Brooke makes the best playlists. Since we know each other's strengths, this also keeps us from stepping on each other's toes, since tension and bickering are pretty much the last thing you want on a girls' trip (second only to guys, of course).
Not everyone is a morning person, and a weekend vacation is not the time to convince a night owl she needs to wake up for a 6 a.m. hike. To ensure everyone's happy and well-rested, make plans a few steps in advance. If you're heading out for a 6 a.m. hike, also schedule in a 9 a.m. breakfast followed by 10 a.m. pool time so late risers know where to go, and the rest of the group isn't held at the mercy of her "snooze" button.
Google Maps’ feature of “My Maps,” which is basically a way to personalize a schedule, trip, or travel in general, is a great way to share location information. If you have several stops throughout the day—coffee, brunch, a hike, the beach—you can pre-schedule locations and directions into My Maps, then share it. If someone is driving solo, meeting up later, or curious about what else is around the planned trip, everyone has access.
Splitting up the bill or figuring out the exact math when paying gets annoying, so ask someone to handle money all day or weekend. Put everything on their card and have them send out Venmo or Square charges at a later date. (Whoever is doing this deserves an extra glass of wine at dinner, courtesy of everyone else.)
The last thing you want for a girls’ day is to feel like you didn’t catch up. A planned activity may be fun for part of it (like attending a concert, or getting massages), but be sure to include relaxed, face-to-face time as well. Even if it’s laying in a shared hotel bed or going for a walk, leave enough time for everyone to connect—without pressure to rush off to something else. Some of my favorite moments from our trip to Palm Springs were getting ready in a hotel room before heading to dinner.
In order to not be on your phones the whole time, create a shared photo album on your iPhone (or another photo sharing app like Cluster) and add photos when you get home. You can relive the best moments, or the really awkward attempts at group selfies, and everyone will walk away with something to frame... or, Instagram.