Girls trips are trickier to coordinate than one might expect. However, I have three friends with whom I believe we have figured out a system that works well. The four of us have been friends for 15 years. We all met working together at a newspaper. They started moving away in 2011. By 2016, they had all left me on my own in Lafayette. Scattered across the country now, we have been in a group chat for nearly five years. We trade secrets, frustrations, humor and more on a daily basis via text.

Beyond the wonders technology affords for us to stay in communication, we also do our best to spend time together annually. Being together in person solidifies things. It creates shared experiences, shared laughter, shared memories.

The process of planning the trip is a shared experience in and of itself. This weekend, my friends and I are in Taos, New Mexico, celebrating the 40th birthday of our friend Claudia.

I asked my friends what advice they had for those planning a girls’ trip. Here is the list we developed:

  • If you’re all coming from different places, the logistics of coordinating arrivals is one of the most complicated aspects of the entire trip. Know that some people might end up arriving one day and the others the next morning. Planning a neutral place to congregate works well.
  • Make sure you like the girls you invite (even when you don’t like them).
  • Have a balance of planned activities and down time.
  • Go with people you know well enough to say, “Maybe you need some alone time.”
  • Go Dutch. Period. Don’t argue over the bill.
  • Champagne.
  • Each person bringing simple little gifts for everyone on the trip is a lot of fun, including new games, face masks, fingernail polish or foot scrubs. The idea of the trip is to have a balance of downtime and activities, but fun things to do in the downtime takes the trip to a different level.
  • Traveling with high maintenance people is no fun (which translates to we encourage that everyone be on a similar maintenance level).
  • Speaking of everyone being on the same level, keep that in mind when it comes to finances. A major extravagance is fine but make sure that the expense is in line with everyone’s budget.
  • Take turns planning the trips.
  • If the primary planner asks about your preference, give your preference instead of saying, “Whatever you want.”
  • Go with the flow. Leave the drama at home.
  • Airbnb works well because they provide more space to spread.
  • Choose a destination where no one has been.
  • Research and do activities that are out of the ordinary — go white-water rafting, zip lining, to a spa, eat in an over-the-top restaurant or take a cooking or weaving class.
  • Have a plan but be willing to stop on the side of the road for sheep, or magical dirt or a winery.
  • Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
  • Hydrate.
  • Even if you fly to a destination, we recommend having a car to drive. Driving down unexplored roads offers the chance for surprises.
  • If possible, splurge on accommodations — that might mean budgeting for a few months out.
  • Book the accommodations and other travel details/airfares at least three to four months in advance.
  • Go to the grocery store together. (Plus, going to the grocery in a new place gives you a better sense of the place altogether.)
  • Double check to make sure the place you book has enough beds.
  • If the trip is not in celebration of one person in particular, assign each person a day or evening to plan or coordinate activities.
  • Have fun!