Recently, a random conversation with an office friend turned into an invitation to join her the very next day for a three-day girl’s trip. The experience wasn’t my first time traveling with old and new friends. But it’s the one that taught me: in a world that ignores a woman’s insights, there is beauty and power in saying, “Sister, let’s take a trip. I want to see the world through your eyes.” As summer approaches, I offer some reflections on the way girls’ trips are an opportunity to deepen our commitment to one other.

I. Finding Joy in Caring for Each Other

Hopeful to make a good first impression on the other women during the spontaneous trip, I showed up with a tub of fresh fruit, peanut butter, and homemade blackberry tarts (okay, maybe that was overkill). But being the one who is prepared with nourishment, books, and a blanket is a role I enjoy taking on during travels with friends.

You might be the Over-the-Top Planner who meticulously researches every leg of the journeyeven the best scenic roads to take. Or maybe you enjoy being the Unashamed Foodie who peruses reviews until you find not only the restaurant with the best dumplings, but the most authentic dishes to order there. Maybe you’re the emotionally in-tune Playlist Curator who converts the front passenger seat into a DJ booth and won’t leave the car until a ballad ends. I’d be remiss to not mention the Faithful Navigator, the Gleeful Photographer…

These roles are about more than logistics; they’re taking joy in caring for each other in a world that deceives us into believing strength means standing alone.

II. Exhaling and Listening

After weeks of scurrying around with my own life, I finally have the space to exhale, and just as importantly, respect the experiences of my sisters. Even on trips where I already know everyone, I always quietly marvel at the multitudes we embody. Inside the accelerating car, out come the minimized indignities, sheltered dreams, honest updates about surviving violence, and tales of ordinary triumph.

In these moments, I resist the temptation to be threatened by another’s flourishing or dismissive of another’s insecurities. For as I collectively empty all the memories tucked deep in the pocket that is skin’s secret own (1), my understanding of women’s interdependence deepens. With greater humility, I pay attention to the women made invisible around me: the mother of three who adds an origami rose to every toilet paper roll in a hotel. The grandmotherly vendor I did not properly greet in the rush to capture the perfect photo. Women past and present who, without the privilege of leaving home, incorporated girls’ trips’ essencefemale connectionin the daily activities of washing clothes, harvesting, and activism. This core experience of connection is not a luxury.

III. Committing & Recommitting to One Another

My memories at the end of these trips are not defined by the trip’s distance or even our activitiesfrom an anti-violence march to a making pizza together. No, days after, I am still flourishing off the oxygen that arises when you feel found and settled with friends. Our journeys don’t look like sun-flushed Polaroids. We spend more time than we should arguing about movies. We get lost and drive into oncoming traffic once. One of us often falls asleep at the restaurant when we go salsa dancing (definitely not me).

Yet, at the same time, I learn answers to questions about my body I was afraid to ask. I am challenged to ask for what I deserve at work. I gain a quiet confidence because I know our advances and our pains belong to each other.

Until recently, I wasn’t sure how I could grow these moments of assurance into longer-term commitment. Despite the centrality of these relationships in my lives, I haven’t built in the same intentionality that I would for marriage. Author Rebecca Traister writes, “There has not yet been any satisfying way to recognize the role that we [female friends] play for each other… . There aren’t any ceremonies to make this official. There aren’t weddings; there aren’t health benefits or domestic partnerships or familial recognition. And when those friendships change, there aren’t divorce settlements, there aren’t specially trained therapists; there’s not even a section in the greeting-card aisle to help us navigate it.”

Now I’m inspired to ask with my closest friends what it looks like for us to intentionally invest, cherish, and ceremonialize one another. It sounds like we’re due for another girls’ trip.

(1) From the poem, “Two Countries” by Naomi Shihab Nye

(2) All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister, with thanks to social psychologist Christena Cleveland

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