When I was in college, Essence Magazine was the only magazine to which I subscribed. Every month I consumed every single word in every article. But mostly I just loved seeing the pictures of beautiful black women in all their glory. My dorm room was decorated with cover photos I would tear out and tape to my walls. Next to the Holy Bible, Essence was my source. So when they announced the first Essence Music Festival in the summer of 1995 I knew I wouldn’t miss it.
I convinced my best friend, my sister, and my Mom to take a road trip from Central Florida to Louisiana so we could “party with a purpose.” It was going to be amazing. We did hit a few snags along the way. We booked our reservations too late so we had to stay in a hotel 1 1/2 hours away in Baton Rouge. Then we all didn’t want to go to the same concerts so one night my best friend stayed in the car while we rocked to the tunes of Gladys Knight. Some of us wanted to eat authentic cajun street food while others wanted to dine in a fancy restaurant in the French quarter.
In the end we had a blast. Now almost 20 years later we look back at that trip with fondness. At the same time the challenges we experienced helped me to realize that the idea of vacationing with your girlfriends is awesome but there are a few things you must do to in order to enjoy yourself and most importantly to preserve your friendships.
- What is their idea of vacation
Everybody’s idea of a vacation is not the same. We are all unique individuals and just because you enjoy jumping out of airplanes doesn’t mean your BFF enjoys the same. Before you decide to vacation with your girl have a conversation about what she enjoys doing. You may find that there is a destination where you can go rock climbing and she can hang out at the spa.
- What is the budget
We all have different financial commitments and how much we are willing to spend on a vacation. Have the conversation before you even plan the trip. One of my friends took a two week vacation to Europe with 5 of her girlfriends and one of the ladies ran out of money in the first week. It is important to set reasonable expectations for a budget and then add to that for unexpected items. Trust me.
- Do they snore?
I know this sounds silly but different sleeping habits can impact the quality of your enjoyment. If you decide to share rooms talk about if you are an early riser or need to have the television on to fall asleep. Seemingly normal nocturnal habits can become deal breakers when on vacation with your friends.
- Cancellation Plan
Life happens. Before you plan the trip discuss what you will do if the other person needs to cancel. If you book a trip where the price is determined based on the number of people you need to decide at what date will each person be locked into payment regardless of if they need to cancel. Also consider if one of you is OK still going if the other isn’t. Talk about travel insurance.
- How many is too many?
Four people is the largest number of people that I have ever gone on vacation. I have some friends who have gone with six or even seven. Decide your comfort zone before you extend the invitations. Also consider that human nature dictates that at the beginning more people will express interest than will actually make it on your Hawaiian vacation.
- Alone time.
The point of going on vacation as group is to spend time together. But it is also important to figure out how much alone time you each need in order to have a good time. I sometimes like to go wandering through new cities to get a lay of the land. Not many people enjoy that. Schedule time so each person can just go and do their own thing. It will make for some great stories over dinner.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Before, During, and After the trip communicate. Some of the major challenges that can pop up when traveling as a group could be avoided through simple communication. There has to be an elected or appointed leader. Someone who takes it upon themselves to research and communicate the logistics to the group. It is also everyone’s responsibility to ask questions. For instance I am heading to the Bahamas for my girlfriend’s wedding. I knew I needed to figure out the currency exchange. I researched it on my own but she also sent out an email to the group. Communication is key.
- Have FUN.
Most importantly make the decision to have FUN. Really, things are going to go wrong. You have a choice to harp on the fact that you have now discovered that your girlfriend still needs a night light. You can also choose to relish in the reality that you are touring some distant land with a friend who is willing to do it with you. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.