Every time I see one of those articles that touts how important it is to have a getaway with your girlfriends, I feel an eye twinge coming on. Sure, it sounds great in theory, but for many of us, taking time away from our families is damn near impossible.
Of course, we want to, and yes, we likely need to for a lot of reasons. But that doesn’t make it attainable. Telling someone to “just take the girls’ trip!” is nice and all, but most of the time it only makes those of us who can’t feel worse. We’re well aware of what we’re missing, but that doesn’t mean we can just pick up and go.
I’m a single mom with limited help. Yes, I co-parent with my son’s father, and for that I’m lucky. But because he has his own schedule, planning anything is a pain in the ass. We have set days he spends time with our son, so any deviation from that schedule is a process, let me tell you. Trying to work around someone’s else’s schedule makes taking a girl’s trip feel exhausting. Because I have to not only work around my own schedule, but his too. Add that stress to coordinating schedules with your partners in this “friends trip” and it’s a recipe for Hell No Stew.
Taking a “girls’ trip” requires expert level planning under the best of circumstances. But if I have to get childcare, then I have to plan even further in advance. There is no such thing as doing anything on a whim or even with a few weeks to plan. I need months. Because if my son’s dad has any schedule conflicts, I either need to give him enough time to work them out, or we have to find a friend who can fill in the gaps we need. All of that stresses me out, and it’s hard to enjoy the idea of going away.
I’ve gone on one girls’ trip since having my son. ONE. We started planning it several months in advance, and I thought that would make it easier. Four months before the trip I gave my ex the dates, telling him he needed to be free the entire time. Then of course, he didn’t plan accordingly, which means I was shifting my plans to accommodate his mistake. Even with all the planning in advance, I was still scrambling, which defeats the purpose of advanced planning. When it was time, taking a girls’ trip felt like a headache and a burden. I had a great time on the trip, but the stress of planning makes me wary of doing it again.
And as if the planning wasn’t enough of a headache, the money is an absolute nightmare. Taking a girls’ trip is very rarely cheap. Depending on where everyone is coming from, trying to compromise on a location is hard. Living on the west coast, I’m usually the one who is going to end up traveling the farthest. Most of my friends live on the east coast, where there are more popular vacation destinations. Taking a girls’ trip closer to them makes sense — but it also means I’m going to end up bearing the brunt of that decision.
Flights aren’t cheap, especially if you have to go across the country. Having to spend several hundred dollars to fly for two or three days is more than my budget can take. Even if I desperately want to see my friends, I have to weigh how cost-effective the trip is. I don’t have a lot of extra money, so I need to figure out how to move things around to make it work. Or stalk websites and hope the prices drop (they never do). Then there’s the cost of lodging, which easily ups everything by a few more hundred dollars.
If I’m being honest, as much as I love my friends, there are better uses for an extra few hundred bucks.
Taking a girls’ trip is hard for most of my friends too. We don’t have a ton of disposable income. And even if we can afford the trip itself, what about all the extra money? You need money to get around, money for meals, money for any fun stuff you want to do. So if you add it up, a girls’ trip could cost close to a thousand dollars when all is said and done. That’s a lot of freaking money just to sit around and bullshit with my friends for a couple days.
Don’t get me wrong, I would kill to be able to get away for a few days with my best friends and chill the fuck out. It would be awesome to have a conversation without a kid interrupting. To just be in our sweats drinking coffee and pigging out on junk food sounds like heaven. But I can’t put myself through all of the stress doing that outside of my immediate locale.
The studies that encourage taking a girls’ trip, and the people who have the luxury to do so, are forgetting something important. There is a certain privilege in not only having the time, but being able to afford such a trip. How many times have I seen friends sharing pictures and videos of their girls’ weekends and felt bummed? Not because they don’t deserve it (they totally do), but because I wish I could do the same thing.
I have friends I’ve been trying to plan a trip with for over a year. The main reason planning stalls is because it’s too hard and stressful. It’s too hard to find a time that works for all of us between kids and other people’s schedules. And trying to find a place where one of us wouldn’t be spending more money to travel is impossible. Plus, we’re all broke.
Taking a girls’ trip is a great thing to do if you can. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do it again. Until then, if you want to come hang out and eat chips and salsa in your sweats at my house, I’m in. I can probably get a kid-free night sometime before the year is over.
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