Grab Your Squad And Go! 10 Girls Trip Approved Vacation Destinations
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of ESSENCE
Get inspiration for your next getaway from a few of our more adventurous friends.
Destination: Cabo San Lucas
Our Girlfriend: Lori Harvey
The Crew: I celebrated my twenty-first birthday with my family, a few childhood friends and Teyana Taylor. (We’ve been joined at the hip since we met more than a year ago.)
Where They Stayed: Casa Oliver, a private villa
Lori’s Favorite Memories: The whole weekend was crazy. The ATVs were fun, even though two broke down in the middle of the tour and we had to all pile into the ones that still worked. Beach volleyball was hilarious because none of us can play, and we were trying to be cute. We also played musical chairs that got a little aggressive.
Destinatios: Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast
Our Girlfriends: Hayet Rida and Danielle Young
The Crew: According to Hayet: Most of the ladies were my blogger baes and the others my Chicago backbones. I was born and raised in Ghana, so I wanted to show them my home—from the beaches and food to the men and culture. I became even prouder relearning my Ashanti heritage.
Hayet’s Favorite Memory: Clubbing in Ghana. Everyone was happy. We stayed at Carbon nightclub VIP-style till 4:30 A.M. Her Travel Tip: Don’t go to a country with the notion of “this is how it’s done.” You aren’t in America anymore, so let go. Danielle’s Best Memories: The welcome pool party and BBQ Hayet organized at her mother’s home was amazing, with fresh calamari and signature coconut cocktails served by an M’Baku-like waiter with a bare chest in an apron. We also went to a village in Kumasi, where we learned how they make kente cloth and we dressed like Ghanaian queens! The most unforgettable moment was of 17 Black women taking a fierce photo in front of a castle on Cape Coast, where our ancestors were kept and exported into slavery. I was nervous, but when I stood with all those free Black queens, I realized we were the image of the timeless quote: “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” We have come so far to return to that space and reclaim our freedom. Her Travel Tip: Try something new. We went to Kakum National Park and hiked, which I don’t do, especially in 100-degree weather. I am out of shape, so the hike slayed me. I pushed through and made it across all the park’s seven bridges in the sky with my girls cheering me on.
Destinations: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Phi Phi Island
Our Girlfriend: Tiffany Owens
The Crew: We have a GroupMe community of travelers who do a trip every year. Thirty-five of us went on this one.
Why It’s Girlfriend Approved: Thailand has something for everyone. Although Bangkok is the largest city there, it doesn’t necessarily have the most to offer. The smaller locales provide an abundance of cultural experiences and shopping. If you like metropolitan cities, then Bangkok is a great stop. We stayed at Bed Station Hostel. For more of a rural experience, then Chiang Mai is a go-to. We stayed at Golden Bell Hotel there. And if you want to indulge in a beautiful beach escape, consider Phuket and Phi Phi islands.
Tiffany's Favorite Memory: Outside of being totally shocked and confused by the “ping-pong show,” which is explicit, the unforgettable moment was our ride to Phi Phi Island on a speedboat with a fearless driver over treacherous and unforgiving waves. We prayed and sang nineties songs while clinging to one another for dear life. The pictures we snapped on the island are beautiful and it took a lot to get there.
Her Travel Tip: Don’t fall for the misconception that traveling is always expensive. Our group has been traveling on flight deals for years.
Destinations: Havana and Viñales
Our Girlfriend: Maya Allen
The Crew: I met Jasmine at Howard University and we became sorority sisters.
Why It’s Girlfriend-Approved: Cuba feels like such a remote place with barely any WiFi. Since we were not connected to our phones, that made bonding natural. The scenery is beautiful and colorful for amazing photo ops.
Maya’s Favorite Memories: One day we took a two-hour scenic drive up the countryside to Viñales and went horseback riding through Viñales Valley. I’ll never forget how gorgeous it was. We loved wandering around old Havana because it was like going back in time. Everyone drives old-school cars, and the architecture has such a vintage feel.
Destination: Ocho Rios
Our Girlfriend: Charreah K. Jackson
The Crew: The glossy posse of women who attended the first Support Your Girlfriends Weekend Getaway organized by Nikkia McClain. The trip included my bestie Arion and we snuck in some bridesmaid behavior with our girl, Charanna.
Where They Stayed: Moon Palace Grande Resort & Spa
Why It’s Girlfriend-Approved: Every woman deserves to be served jerk chicken, rice and peas and a frozen Bob Marley while sitting on the beach. We could not resist the pool’s swim-up bar between sushi, steak and a lavish buffet. One of the best perks was that we didn’t have to leave the resort for a sexy night out, thanks to Club Noir, a spot with Vegas vibes. Plus there’s the Piano Bar for your fancy friend who wants to feel like an old-Hollywood star for the evening. For something more relaxing, the resort reportedly has the island’s largest spa.
Her Travel Tip: Definitely research your hotel before arriving. We only found out on our last day there that the property had a dolphin park with a cutie named Ziggy.
Our Girlfriend: Yolande Macon
The Crew: We all know one another from Instagram as bloggers who follow one another. We are pictured from left: Tye Glover, Sade Solomon, yours truly, Jasmine Rose, and Ijeoma Kola. Since we were each considering going, we decided to do Paris Fashion Week together in February/March.
Yolandé’s Favorite Memories: We were like-minded individuals but we had not all met before, so we were a little nervous about how we would mesh. We easily bonded, whether it was giving one another tips on how to organically grow our Instagram following over Nutella crepes or hyping up one another while taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Destinations: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur
Our Girlfriend: Ranieka Meadors
The Crew: We are actually half-sisters. Monae and I have the same mother. Nia and I have the same father. We travel together all the time, and we’re working on checking off the New Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal is our third.
Why It’s Girlfriend-Approved: India is a beautiful country and it’s really affordable. The U.S. dollar goes a long way there, and when you have friends to split the cost, it’s even better. The food was really good too.
Ranieka’s Favorite Memories: One of our best moments was riding in a tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled mini taxi, through the streets of Rajasthan. The driver had the biggest crush on Monae, and he gave us a ride for free because he just wanted to hang out with us some more. Also, the elephant ride at the Amer Fort was very cool.
Her Travel Tips: You can’t just show up at many of the train stations and buy a ticket; plan ahead and purchase weeks in advance. India can get really cold at night during the winter months. Locals get excited when they see people they don’t normally see and ask to take pictures with you as if you are a celebrity.
Our Girlfriend: Sherri Bee
The Crew: Jess and I are neighbors who became friends after she returned home from college. I met Rushell and Marika at a women’s empowerment gathering and we hit it off.
Where They Stayed: Harum Sari Private Villa
Why It’s Girlfriend-Approved: If you’re looking for adventure, culture, beauty, and relaxation, go to Bali. The moment you leave the airport there’s an indescribable feeling of zen magic. The people are welcoming; there was no awkward tourist stare. It’s visually captivating, the food is delicious and the luxury spas are super affordable.
Sherri’s Favorite Memory: Bathing with the elephants at the elephant sanctuary. It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time. Riding an elephant was at the very top of my bucket list.
Our Girlfriends: Twin sisters Hermon and Heroda Berhane
The Crew: We met in our mother’s womb.
Where They Stayed: Zenith Blue hotel in a family cave suite with views of the volcano
Why It’s Girlfriend-Approved: Santorini is a delight. It’s one of those places where you are reminded that nature is purely awesome and just beautiful. The picturesque views are beyond the imagination. Hiking is the best way to experience the culture: Just follow the awe-inspiring coastline from the darkest blue sea to the volcanos. As you keep on walking, you can see lots of little-whitewashed villages dotting the edge of the caldera—a deep bay formed by the eruption of a volcano—with the sunset poking around corners, creating spectacular color combinations on the walls.
Their Travel-Tip: Our favorite place to relax, have a cocktail and watch the sunset was PK Cocktail Bar. Make sure you reserve a front-row table.
Our Girlfriend: Rushell Marshall
The Crew: I’ve known Marika since I was 14. We’ve been traveling together for more than 11 years and have been to 20-plus countries together. Two years ago Sherri hit me up on Instagram about joining the trips and brought along her good friend Jessica.
Where They Stayed: Nuo Hotel Beijing
Rushell’s Favorite Memories: China has great landmarks and interesting food. The Great Wall was so magical, and when you have your friends they can help with dope photo opportunities. We weren’t supposed to be up there and we were watching out for anyone who would tell us to get down, but it was worth it for just five minutes. The pictures were spectacular.
Her Travel Tips: In China, certain Web sites are blocked (including Instagram and Google), so download apps and directions beforehand. The air quality is bad, so grab masks if you’re staying for a while. Catching a cab was difficult (I could tell being Black was an issue), so schedule car service in advance.