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How to plan an affordable girls' weekend getaway

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Women celebrate at a bar (Photo: IndexOpen)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on July 10, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: activity, Atlanta, Bahamas, Boston, Chicago, destination, Montreal, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Sarah Pascarella, Tucson, vacation package, Washington, D.C., women's travel.

"Almost every life event for a woman is an opportunity to travel, and who better to share those events with than your girlfriends, mother, daughter, or sisters," says Valerie McDermott, co-founder of Million-Dollar-Mama.com, an online resource for women's travel. Hotels and other providers are well aware that girls' getaways are one of the hottest trends in travel, and many promote packages and special offers for women traveling together. Consumers should investigate before buying, however: Sometimes packaged getaways can be a good deal, and other times they can be a rip-off.

Our tips will help you put together an affordable girls' getaway—either a package or an a-la-carte escape you arrange yourself—with an emphasis on savings strategies and customizing a unique itinerary for your experience.

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Possibilities

There's no one definition for a girls' getaway nowadays, although "getaways" are usually limited to weekends or other short stays, as opposed to full vacations. There are packages for college friends, reading or scrapbooking clubs, female family members, bridal parties, sorority reunions, and other groups of women. And, perks have moved beyond spa treatments, chocolate, and shopping discounts (although those are certainly still available in abundance). Today's getaways can include adventurous activities such as hiking and surfing, beach escapes, wine and culinary tours, and even stargazing.

Lauren Darden, a recent law school graduate from Waynesboro, Virginia, just got back from a trip to Freeport, Bahamas, with two girlfriends. "We all wanted to have a good time, but also relax, and wanted something warm that involved lounging in the sun for a good portion of the trip," she says. "I wanted some time relaxing with my friends where I did not have to answer as a law student, wife, or mother. We all had just completed graduate programs, and it was the perfect excuse to celebrate."

"Groups of traveling women range in age, marital status, economic level, and reason for travel, but most have in common a multi-faceted life," says McDermott. "We see college/high school friends using getaways as a way to indulge in things they enjoyed growing up together, sisters pampering themselves, book club members looking to deepen their literary experiences, and even gym buddies looking to step up their daily workout routine." As a result, today's getaways can be tailor-made to fit such varied travel tastes.

Package deals

"Package deals are especially attractive if you're going to a destination you have never been to before," says McDermott. "The proprietor has taken all the guesswork out using their experiences and knowledge of the area and making connections with nearby spas, wineries, restaurants, to get special pricing for their visitors. It's just a nice introduction to an area you may not be familiar with."

Some options currently available for girls' getaways packages include:

  • Escapes just for women from participating inns at BedandBreakfast.com. Destinations across the country are represented, with activities including shopping, spa treatments, beauty consultations, and pajama and pizza parties.
  • "What Women Want!" packages at Kimpton Hotels, an upscale boutique hotel brand with properties in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and other major cities available. Perks can include massages and spa treatments, consultations with a personal shopper, complimentary bottles of wine or Champagne, theater or movie tickets, and dance classes.
  • "Women Only Weekends" in the Finger Lakes region of New York, with eight area lodging properties taking part in the promotion. Possibilities cover wine getaways, scrapbooking weekends, or art escapes.
  • Spa packages at Omni Hotels, with Atlanta, Montreal, Orlando, and Tucson hotels, among others, offering getaways.
  • The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission offers girls' getaways ranging from fine dining escapes to packages including in-room movies, chocolates, and wine.
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