How to plan a Mystery Girl’s Weekend
We just got back from Nashville. I had no idea I was going to Nashville, but a few short hours later, there I was walking out of the Johnny Cash museum and into a boot store to get my very official country cowgirl boots. I went with my two best friends. Susanne I have known since I was four. Marisa I have known since I was ten. We are the Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges depending on the day.
We figured out this trip we have been doing Mystery Trips for about ten years, and I can tell you that we look forward to them every time we do it and when we return we always get a rush of “that’s so cool” “how do you plan a mystery trip”? Well, I’m going to tell you, and I am also going to tell you that taking trips with your girlfriends is critical to your mental health. So, let go of the mom guilt and grab a pen and paper. I will outline how we do it so you can too!
1. Start small and smart
Ok, so I am the first one to admit that I always have the theory of “the more, the merrier” however, the first time you do this, I would start with just a few girlfriends who are like-minded in your idea of #vacaygoals. Also, start small in distance. Don’t feel like you have to journey too far beyond your front door. It’s the way we started, and I will say when we all had tiny babies I think it made us all feel better to know that we weren’t venturing too far out of our comfort or emergency radius of return. We have slowly and naturally extended out in our adventure destination comfort level.
2. Set expectations
People walk into vacations with different expectations. When we go on our trip, I really don’t care where we are going. I am just so happy that we are all together, I would do just about anything anywhere with these ladies. We do all operate under some basic expectations including:
We do not sleep in tents. Some of our posse like camping. Others do not. So, although you may be taking us to an incredibly remote location to see unicorns...just have some hotel/house/Airbnb reservations in the evening. Cause we won't be sleeping on the forest floor, even with unicorns.
You will be asked to step out of your comfort zone at some point, so be cool with that fact.
We accommodate each other’s eating habits, allergies, intolerances. We will make sure you feel included in our food choices.
The magical fairy who may follow you around at home is not invited on the trip, so you are to keep things semi-clean yourself. No one is waiting on you hand and foot. We are all moms, so we really don’t have that issue, but everyone is expected to haul luggage, carry groceries and be the navigational helper if needed at some point
Not every little thing will be planned out, but there will be a sketch game plan of what to do and where to eat every day by the planner. The planner usually gives a rundown of the daily choices of events based upon the times the events are available. Generally, we all just go with the flow and don’t get too overly concerned if we don’t get to everything on the list. It is better for the planner to over plan and take things off the list than to under plan.
If you choose not to do something, but the rest of us want to do it, nobody cares. It’s each of our vacays so if two of us want to go workout, but one wants to sit and read until we get back, that is fine.
3. Budget and time
This is best considered at least six months before the trip because the planner will need time to get things together and let’s face it, we all have a lot on our plates and finding a date that works for the three of us is like finding a four-leaf clover in a unicorn’s butt. It takes us lots of back and forth to pick a date, and I believe this is where a lot of girlfriends get hung up. They give up when the first couple of go-rounds don’t work out, but if you keep working on it, eventually you will all find your lucky unicorn butt date too. We go every other year and usually start picking dates a year out because that is the only way we can get something that works for all of us on the calendar in cement. We have nine kids between us and husbands. Also, because one of us has a business that revolves around a NASCAR schedule, we have that to consider too (something I honestly never thought I would say) So, trying to schedule around all of that is tricky, but not impossible. Once the date has been chosen, unless you are in the hospital giving birth, you are expected to be committed. The end.
We started with a budget of $300 each and have increased to about $600. The budget includes accommodations, food, and events. We usually choose accommodations that include a kitchen so that we can bring groceries and have at least one meal (usually breakfast) in the room/house we are staying at.
We also have increased our time a bit. We used to do a strict Friday morning and come back Sunday afternoon, however, this last trip we left Thursday morning and came back Sunday evening. This enabled us to have all day Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday. We drove 7 hours to Nashville, and although we have done trips where we fly, I don’t mind driving at all and those 7 hours went by fast, even with all my bathroom pit stops.
As a mom, some alone time in the car not having to “entertain” anybody is golden. Plus, for this trip, I felt like we got 7 hours to reacquaint and get to the meat of our lives right away. We do not live close to each other so it takes a hot minute to re-hash all that has been going on with kids, husbands, businesses, parents, in-laws, outlaws, feelings, feelings about feelings. After that we go into the serious stuff like who makes the best mascara, what vitamins we are all taking, best workouts, hair products, the newest massage type, acupuncture, what Reese Witherspoon is up to, how cool it would be to walk into Draper James, and she just happens to be in there, and she wants to join our girls trip cause we are such a cool bunch of chicks...you know all the important stuff.
4. Who Plans?
We rotate. We take turns with the planning so two are always surprised and one is the planner. This way you are the planner once every 6 years. 1 trip every 6 years seems doable. If that feels like too much for one person or you want to invite more than one handful of friends, I suggest "queen for a day". This is where you know where you are going, but each person takes a day and plans it out and everyone has to do what that person plans but everyone gets their own "special day". I like the element of surprising others and being surprised and I think we all really trust each other so we like the true mystery, but just in case it isn't your thing, "queen for a day" is a good alternative.
5. Why it's important
And that’s what is the most essential part of the trip, the re-connection and boding time. That’s why it’s so vital for us to go away. Without sealing ourselves in a swagger wagon and heading south for a couple of days, we would have never gotten that reconnection time because let’s face it; even when we visit each other, there are still things to do, and kid’s to interrupt conversations. I have never held an entire discussion about anything of substance when nine kids are running around. Our brains need to be able to focus on just each other. Our neurons do cartwheels over the interesting, silly conversations that we don’t encounter in our everyday interactions at our homes with people we know sometimes better than we know ourselves. The fact that we have done these before and we know each other’s travel style only makes the ease that much more fluid. It seems to me that if the universe hands you people with whom your soul feels at ease, you should make it a priority to spend as much quality time with them as possible.
So we take turns and each plan a new trip every other year and each time we go is more epic than the last. We step out of our comfort zones and relax into who we are silly, fun, smart, caring, kind, brave women. We reinforce each other and our friendship in knowing that we are important to each other and we will show up. We will show up and recognition of all we have been for each other in the past and all we will continue to be in the future, and we will do this all by being present with each other in our mystery trip.