'My first girls' trip was a disaster. Here's how we make it work when we all earn different wages.'

A few years ago, a group of my close friends and I planned a girls' trip

I know what you’re thinking: “You all started fighting and now you’re not friends anymore.” 

Wrong... but it was a close call. 

We were in our early 20s and we were all in completely different life stages when it came to work and money

Some of us were working full time, some of us were on a gap year and some of us were students. 

Basically, we were a financial planner’s worst nightmare. 

And as predicted, our trip away ended up being very… challenging.

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Our generation grew up with Sex and The City (the movie) and Bridesmaids hammering home the importance of going on a girls' group trip. 

What we didn’t see is any character paying for anything, navigating Flight Centre’s website over FaceTime or endless conversations starting with “where should we go for dinner?” before finally agreeing on a place only to discover it's booked out. 


But without a doubt the biggest hurdle for a girls' trip is the money element. 

While we had to deal with our fair share of awkward conversations and the first trip was pure chaos, we decided to just be brutally transparent about what we could and couldn't afford if we ever wanted to continue going away together. 

And even though we’re now all working full time, I came to the brutal realisation that some jobs (my friends') just get you more money than others (mine). 

Having these talks with your friends and establishing the why of the trip helps the rest fall into place. 

So here's a few golden lessons I've learned about how to make the girls' trip work when you've got wildly different budgets. 

1. Appoint a Nicole.

The Nicole of the group is essentially the group organiser. They’re the one that gets the ball rolling and makes s**t happen. There can be multiple Nicoles within the group but I suggest you decide on only one per trip. Here are some Nicole formats:

  • If you’re going for a reason e.g. a birthday, then the person whose birthday it is becomes the Nicole.

  • If your group is in the rhythm of going on trips consistently, a Nicole roster works well so everyone has a turn (is responsible) of planning one trip each. 

  • Just pick one person forever. Sometimes there is one obvious Nicole and she knows it and loves it. The role is made for her, so let her do her thing.

2. Make the date four to five months in advance.

This is the part that we don’t see in the movies because it’s so boring. 

It’s also the most beneficial step to making a girls' trip work. 

Agreeing on a date months away allows your group to still build up excitement as well as plan and save for it accordingly. 

3. Send the plan with pricing.

The Nicole then does what she does best and puts forward a loose itinerary for the trip and includes general pricing for each activity, restaurant, flight tickets, accommodation, etc.  


This might seem like a lot of work for one person but it comes with benefits. The Nicole gets first dibs on the rooms and gets to be the passenger princess when the trip begins because her work will be done. 

The rest of the group reads over the proposed agenda and discusses. I want to note here that I’ve been on seven girl group trips and not once have we followed the agenda, it’s always a guide and indicates how much money you’ll end up spending. 

The rule when discussing the agenda is that you can’t just say “no”. You can obviously disagree with some things but you have to help come to a solution e.g. “I don’t think I can afford this place do you mind if I also look and give some more examples that are more within my budget?” VS “I can’t do that place sorry”. 

The latter wording can lead to some heated conversations that will end up spiralling and bring the mood down, especially if the conversations are happening over text. 

Remember: These are your friends, and a safe space needs to be established and respected to have these conversations.

4. Establish a reason. 

Usually it's someone’s birthday. 

Starting off a successful tradition of future girls' trips with a ‘reason’ works best, mainly because everyone cares that bit more to make it happen. Once the first trip happens, then expectations are met and you and your friends are more inclined to keep it going regardless of there being a reason. 

Starting off with a reason also makes choosing the destination easier as well. The person who the reason surrounds will usually be the chooser of the destination. 


5. Figure out the split – beforehand. 

There is nothing more awkward than sitting around at the end of a meal and counting out cash (but who really does that anymore) or transferring money to each other while the server impatiently waits to clear your table. 

Figure out how you want to pay for things beforehand. 

You might want one person to foot the bill and then you transfer lump sums at the end, or you can use an app like Splitwise to track who owes who what so you're not having to do girl math every time you go to the bar.

6. If someone can't come, forge ahead. 

You will ALWAYS get drop outs. Rather than figuring out another date, the rule is: If you can’t make it, just catch the next one.

Every single time we’ve tried to re-work a trip because of one person it ends up not happening at all. 

For my group, our main priority was just getting out of the city and away from work. Our trips are never “glamourous” or high-end - not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love a spa sesh as much as the next person -  but that wasn’t our group priority. 

Once you’ve found your why and follow the 5 steps listed above, your group trips will soon become something that’s easy and achievable and they get more and more exciting every time you go. 

If you want more culture and zeitgeist opinions from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.  

Feature image: Getty.

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