“Life was meant for good friends and great adventures.” – Unknown
Who doesn’t love a vacation? U.S. women took 45 million trips, either alone or with their girlfriends and female family members, according to April Merenda, president of Gutsy Women Travel, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. These female-only getaways can even be good for our health! Gale Berkowitz, writing about a landmark UCLA study on Friendship in Women, said, “Friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.” Girlfriend getaways are about renewing and deepening friendships and placing value on togetherness with our chosen family.
The Reno-Tahoe AOII Alumnae Chapter knows the value of traveling together. This alum chapter won the Mary Ann Rice Caldwell Award at AOII Convention 2019, and just one of the reasons why is because of some of their amazing travel programming. In November 2018, they took a Carnival cruise to Mexico as a fundraiser for the AOII Foundation’s Betty Duke Scholarship (BDS). They have ridden Amtrak trains to the Sierra Nevada mountains, and many of them travel to Vegas for the Nevada AOII Alumnae Weekend and to Sacramento for AOII Day at the California State Fair. In April of 2021, they will be boarding a Norwegian cruise from LA to Vancouver again as a fundraiser for BDS.
Our new International President, Crystal Combs, talked about the power of traveling with sisters in her speech at Rose Banquet at Convention. After serving as AOII volunteers together, Crystal and some other sisters decided to continue their adventures by forming BRATS, the “Board for the preservation and advancement of Restaurants, the Arts, Theatres and Spas.” They have been traveling together ever since. BRATS represent six different collegiate chapters. They currently live in five different cities, their professions are vastly different, and their ages span more than two decades. But each year, they choose a new place to visit and sometimes a favorite place to return. They have traveled to Disney, Vegas, Charleston and Chicago, just to name a few, and they’ve toured everything from cemeteries to the Supreme Court all while eating their way across North America!
Crystal captures perfectly the power of this friendship and their shared travels: “Through the years, we have laughed together and cried together; shared sorrows and celebrated successes; swapped stories and exchanged family recipes. We are those friends upon whom you have no fear to call, and we do so throughout the year until we see one another again. I would not be the person that I am today without each and every one of them. They challenge me, they inspire me, and they believe in me. They make my world a better place, and I hope that I do the same for them. After all, this is precisely what we as an organization strive to do for our members. I believe it is what our Founders did for one another.”
So, let’s get started!
Grab your sisters and decide what kind of trip you want. An all-inclusive beach resort? A city getaway great for foodies and taking in a show? A spa getaway? A place to go clubbing? Or perhaps you want to get in touch with nature?
Pick a time. A good idea is to plan around a major milestone event such as birthdays, engagements, bachelorette parties or AOII events such as Convention, homecoming weekends or chapter anniversaries. How much time can you all spend together? Be sure to factor travel time into this too! How far do you want to travel?
Identify a per person budget. One thing to consider is the mode of transportation. Do you need to fly, take a train or rent a car? How much can you each spend on lodging, food and any activities you want to do?
Time to get planning!
Plan a getaway with your sisters – any and all AOIIs! Post on Facebook and Instagram with #aoiistraveltogether and #aoiialumnae and tag @alphaomicronpi and your local alumnae chapter (ex. @aoiicalgaryalumnae).
Girlfriend getaways are scientifically proven to be good for your health! Read more here: Taking a Trip With Your Girlfriends Is Good for Your Health, According to Science.
A great way to find location ideas is to follow hashtags on Instagram, such as #napavalley or #visitneworleans or #newyorktourism. You can often save money by renting a house instead of staying in a hotel; check out HomeAway and Airbnb. And don’t forget to read reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and Eater for restaurant ideas. You can also find great vacation packages on travel discount sites like Travel Zoo, Expedia and Priceline.
For Alumnae Chapters
Plan an alumnae chapter trip! Reach out to the Reno-Tahoe AC for advice on how to organize such a trip and think about using AOII events like Convention, homecoming weekends, chapter anniversaries and state days as the perfect time to go away. There is also time to join the Reno-Tahoe Alumnae on their 2021 Norwegian Cruise! It’s open to all AOIIs as well as friends/family/dates/mates. You can contact the chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Kumpel is an alumna of Delta (Tufts U) and a member of the Education Committee.