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They’re not just an excuse for high jinks and hilarity. Although admittedly, that’s a big part of it
Best friend holidays can relieve stress, and create happiness and deeper friendship bonds. Here are all the reasons you need to book one, right now….
I mean, I’m knackered. I’ve got two kids, a full-time job, and a bouncing fluffball of a puppy running me ragged with all the walking, weeing, and sweeping-up of chewed things.
Disappointingly, I don’t appear to have reached the age of 52 with any absorbing extra-curricular skill or hobby, unless you call collapsing into bed at 9pm and watching Outlander series 1 to 6 a hobby (I call it survival).
…any mention of a weekend away with close female friends, minus kids, partners, housework and pets, is guaranteed to prompt a physical and mental reaction… sheer relief
I manage to grab the occasional glass of wine with my GP friend who is even more shattered than I am. Always at home, usually with our various kids aged 10-14 roiling around and interrupting our attempts at conversation with demands for crisps and apples and ‘can we go home now?’ I do have a great bloke who pulls his weight. But. One is never Off Duty.
This means any mention of a weekend away with close female friends, minus kids, partners, housework and pets, is guaranteed to prompt a physical and mental reaction I can only describe as sheer relief. My body relaxes. And then I open the laptop and embark on a session of holiday cottage porn.
The beauty in female friendships
Where you end up staying on an all-women getaway matters, a lot, but the very best part of this kind of break is the simple fact that it is… all women. The comfort and ease of spending time with close female friends is precious, I’ve found, because it is, firstly, a hugely supportive space.
And second because there is, with other women who you love and who love you, nothing whatsoever to prove. It’s a chance to be completely, utterly, uninhibitedly yourself.
The pandemic made it difficult – for long stretches of time, illegal – to be with friends in person. Lots of us did our best with social media chats and Zoom calls, but rapidly realised that social discourse via a screen was a poor, if necessary, second best.
Being with friends makes you a better person
Unsurprisingly research shows not only that real life conversations are better, but they make us happier. A study from the university of Kansas showed that talking with a friend – and not on social media – just once during the day can increase feelings of happiness and reduce stress. And though one conversation was good – it didn’t much matter what it was about – the researchers emphasised that participants who had more quality conversations had better days.
“The more that you listened to your friends, the more that you showed care, the more that you took time to value others’ opinions, the better you felt at the end of the day,” noted lead researcher and Professor of Communication Studies, Jeffrey Hall.
A few days, rather than a few hours, can also deepen our relationships
If more in-person conversations make us happier, then getting away from the stresses of life with your female friends is the perfect way to fill the tank. A few days, rather than a few hours, can also deepen our relationships, points out Danielle Jackson, whose “Friend Forward” website and podcast exist to support female friendships.
“On a trip away you’re going to see a new side of your friends, [which can bring] a sense of excitement and surprise into your friendships,” Jackson says. New shared experiences are also important, she points out. “They bond us, so just going away on a trip infuses some fire into a friendship.”
Even when it goes wrong, it’s right…
Last time I went on an all-women break, it was with a group of friends I’ve known for over a decade. In that time we have collectively experienced serious illness, relationship breakdowns, money worries, and the birth and death of children.
A long weekend away with these friends is a time when we can share our joys and help each other through the pain that is inevitable in life. It can be intense – but more often it’s just a group of women laughing fit to bust.
On the last night, I fell headlong into an ornamental pond while making for the hot tub in the pitch dark. I limped back to the house dripping blood from a lacerated knee to be roundly teased at the same time as being solicitously tended to with antiseptic wipes and a glass of cold white wine.
That night we all collapsed in giggles over our terrible attempts at Randomise, and vowed to do it all again. Sooner, this time.
Places I’m eyeing up for our next adventure…
Elderwood Manor, Devon
Live like an aristocrat in this stylish manor house that’s reminiscent of a perfectly iced wedding cake.
Highlight: Wood-fired hot tub and a cinema room for those evening activities.
Total cost: from £2,850 for three-night weekend in low season
Per person: £203
YHA St David’s, Pembrokeshire coast
Cwtch up in Welsh comfort after a day watching for seals, dolphins and seabirds.
Highlight: Five minute walk from Whitesands Beach, with surfing and kayaking tuition available.
Total cost: £430-£450 per night weekends – £350 per night weekdays
Per person: £15.90-£16.70 per night weekends – £13 per night weekdays
YHA St David’s
The Estate Office, Applecross, Scotland
Breathtaking views of the Applecross shoreline and sunsets from this beach house.
Highlight: One of the UK’s most scenic drives across Bealach na Bà to reach the Applecross peninsula. Local outdoor centre offering activities.
Total cost: for four nights Friday to Tuesday, from £1,834 in May
Per person: £152
The Estate Office, Applecross
Safari Tents at The Wave, Bristol
Rustic chic under canvas.
Highlight: The Wave offers surfing on tap. Technologically controlled waves that offer a fun, reliable opportunity to learn for surfing newbies.
Total cost: from £220 for one night on a Fri or Sat in May
Per person: £27.50 per night
Safari Tents at The Wave
Step back in time at this stylish farmhouse with Cornish charm. Modestly priced for a lovely house.
Highlight: Sea views, above Port Isaac, and just a short wander to a swim off the beach.
Total cost: for three nights Friday to Monday, from £1,400
Per person: £100
Wildthorn, Whitby, East Yorkshire
A beautifully restored Arts and Crafts house.
Highlight: Whitby Dracula Experience, and wild moors on the doorstep.
Total cost: £1,578 for 4 night weekend at Easter
Per person: £197
Louise is an award-winning journalist who specialises in reporting on domestic abuse, family courts, and child protection. In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism, and was joint winner of the Bar Council’s Legal Reporting Award. She has won a number of CIPR Awards for outstanding education journalism, and has twice been winner of the Rosemary Goodchild Award for Sexual Health Journalism.
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