When I transferred from my first college in Texas to one over 1,000 miles away, I left behind a close group of girlfriends that I was used to seeing on a weekly basis. We ate the shitty dining hall food together, we went out to questionable frat parties together, we studied together. When I moved back to the Midwest I found it difficult to keep in contact on a regular basis; I texted them when I could and we FaceTimed on several occasions, but the reality is, when you live across the country and have a million school-related deadlines, it’s hard to keep up with every single detail of someone else’s life.
Cue my longing to reunite with my friends – and the Central Texas warmth I so desperately missed as I froze my digits off in the never-ending Milwaukee blizzards.
That summer marked the first girls trip I took and the beginning of a tradition my friends and I try to continue: meeting up at least twice a year to celebrate birthdays, New Year’s Eve, and engagements; road trip to different cities; or just to visit and catch up with one another in person. What I’ve learned is that these girls trips are more than just swimming, travelling, shopping, partying, and eating: they are essential to mental and emotional health. They are a way to recharge, unwind, and reduce stress. They also reinforce the strength of women and female relationships.
Every time we get together, there are new life developments to discuss. And every time we see each other, it’s an exit from reality for me. It’s four or five days where I can be honest, loud, and generally enjoy myself away from the pressures of school or work.
Spending time with women I am close with is therapeutic and helps keep me grounded. Girls trips are spaces where I can vent my stress and frustrations and express my concerns about grad school or job prospects. They’re also places where I receive positivity and encouragement.
The fact is that on any given day, my anxiety is high for no apparent reason (yay mental illness!), but these reunions with my friends give me time to relax and re-energize.
Does it seem extravagant to fly across the country to meet up with a group of friends in the age of FaceTime and Skype? To some, yes. But for me, girls trips have been a way for me to escape the stress of finals, the monotonous city of Milwaukee, and family induced anxiety. When I land at the airport and see my friends, we are ecstatic. We pick up where we left off, whether it’s been six months or a year since we’ve all reconvened. There’s no drama.
We fill each other in on our job searches, relationships (or lack of), school projects, and family lives. We get dinner, eat shamelessly, and laugh about our “food babies” later. We dress up, meet friends out, drink way too much, and still get up early the next morning to get breakfast because we only have a limited amount of time together. We go to Galveston’s dirty beach and pretend we’re in Cabo as we watch the dolphins, because at the time, we were too poor to afford anything better (news flash: I’m still too poor). We go ice skating, act like tourists in our own cities, and go on brewery tours. We cry tears of laughter by the end of the trip because we are all too sleep-deprived to function.
Studies show that there are benefits for women who maintain close bonds with one another because these friendships offer judgement-free support, validation, and spaces for women to unabashedly be themselves. Vacationing with your best friends offer similar health boosts. Girls trips offer opportunities to relax, laugh endlessly, and reconnect with friends you don’t get to see often.
Women are strong, and we are strongest when we stand together and support each other. Female friendships are essential to emotional well-being and high self-esteem, and girls trips allow women to capitalize on these important benefits.