Any holiday is a good holiday, but there is something exceptional about an all-girl getaway. What is it about gathering up a few of your best girls, heading out of town – well, anywhere out of earshot of your husband/kids/boss and relishing in the company of la femmes for a few days?
The Girl’s Weekend – and the little but equally loved cousin The Girl’s Night Out, are a life-long phenomenon for most of us. Long live this cherished ritual that usually starts out as slumber parties when we’re schoolgirls and has graduated to multi-night trips in Oz and even further afield. If we had to sit down and really think hard, could we offer any insight into the motivation behind our need to, well, get the hell away with our girlfriends?? A few monosyllabic words come to mind… fun, sleep, drink, eat, talk, shop, trek … but insight???
Luckily we have important academic types that study and interpret this vital stuff for us. This comes in handy when explaining to our families/bosses the critical personal value of our next planned girls weekend away. Just watch his eyes glaze over when you espouse that “friendship is a means of creating social capital, which in turn facilitates emotional support, as well as access to resources.”
If that fails, just mention the word menopause.
Recently Girls Trekking Adventures was approached by a group of American academics to complete surveys related to their studies into ‘all-girl getaways.’ Their published article examines the role of all-girl getaways across the female lifespan. In our teens, it was all about rebellion, creating deeper friendships, bonding over shared memories, being ‘included’ and taking our clumsy yet enthusiastic first steps into adulthood. For our mates growing up without sisters, this was the closest they could get to a female sibling. Who could forget talking into the early hours about that boy that you really liked, the chick you could. not. stand. And of course, you were stuck with the world’s strictest parents.
Trips in early adulthood were somewhat more relaxed. A chance to catch up with friends away from the pressures of working or university life, settling into our adult identity, drinking wine rather than Midori and lemonade and generally underappreciating the fact we’re single, gorgeous and totally rocking a bikini. Youth is wasted on the young.
Fast forward to the haze of small children and work and the pressures of time and money mean our getaways (if any) have become precious slivers of hours where we all understand a sleep-in is akin to winning lotto, not to mention a solo 15-minute shower. No fear, not one of your girlfriends is going to hassle you to get up, make food or interrupt your paper-reading to complain their toast is cut into triangles instead of squares.
Once our kids are older and more independent, there signals a shift towards the rediscovery of our former enjoyed pursuits (what were they again?). There is also the need to adventure, challenge ourselves, and appreciate the beauty around us instead of accumulating stuff. We may share with our girlfriends the heartbreaks and achievements of mid-life, be they relationships, health or child-related. Our escapes with girlfriends remind us that we’re not alone in our worries, that we indeed still have our sense of humour intact despite every b*st*rd trying to break us. Yes, your girls have got your back.
It would be easy to dismiss that this ‘girl-time getaway’ is a strictly first-world phenomenon. However, I have recently become aware of a remote village in India that was presented with the opportunity to have fresh water piped into the village, instead of the women trekking daily for 5km each way to carry water home. Much to the surprise of the local authorities, the plan was met with enormous resistance, not from the men of the village, but the women themselves. It was pointed out that the daily walk for the water was a respite from children, husbands, and in-laws. A few hours escape with other women in the village, to talk uninterrupted, laugh and share stories. When tap water means an extra 2 hours with your mother-in-law every day… well, you get where these women are coming from.
Indeed, this was the way of our ancestors and women in our not-too-distant past. Our present way of life, while lovely, has diminished our face-to-face contact with each other. That’s why we need to preserve and cultivate our girlfriend time together. It comes from generations past. It’s our mental health getaway, as well as giving us the opportunity to try new challenges, away from the naysayers, road-blockers, and general wet-blanket types.
So, the call is out. Gather up your girlfriends and head off for a bit of fun and frivolity. Come back ready to face the world in the knowledge that we are all paddling upstream sometimes. Your girls just give you the extra muscle power to keep at it.
Lindsay K is the resident blogger for GTA. She is a mother, trekker, shower-singer and butter fanatic. Her bucket list trek destination is Argentina.