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It looks perfect. The colorful brochures showcasing lovely rooms, a gorgeous beach and plenty of adventure. What could be better than a week in paradise, hanging out with the girls? Plenty, actually. Before you plunk down that hefty, non-refundable deposit and spend your hard-earned week’s vacation… here are some tips to make sure it turns out to be everything you expect (and nothing you don’t).

RELATED: 10 best girls’ getaways


Do your homework

Agree on the destination. If you’re thinking Barbados and she’s thinking Barcelona, do your own research first. Make sure any suggested destinations are places you really want to go to and can afford. When deciding on a specific hotel, review the comments. Often, they can steer you away from making a mistake.

Check out the details

Do you prefer an all-inclusive resort where meals and drinks are included? If you only enjoy a glass of wine at dinner, this isn’t your best option. Instead, consider a hotel package that offers breakfast as an enticing perk.

Follow a leader

Instead of attending class reunions, Mary Amandes of Olympia, Washington has been traveling with a group of high school friends for several years. “Everyone takes a turn being the group leader, choosing the destination and planning the activities,” she says. “We each pay for our own meals and split the cost of the accommodations. It’s very important that all fees be paid up front to the leader and everyone understands that they have to go with the program.”

Determine who pays for what

How will you pay for meals…split them or separate checks entirely? What about drinks? Jackie Melinger of Highland Park, Illinois celebrated her birthday in Las Vegas with six friends. When they arrived, everyone handed her $100 and she used that money to pay for cabs, drinks, tips and inexpensive meals. “We split the rest of the meals and it was perfect.”

Meanwhile, Judy Eichner of Northbrook, Illinois and her group stayed in a condo owned by one of her friend’s parents. “When we arrived in Phoenix, we picked up supplies at the grocery store, and kept a running tab of expenses, including a seven passenger van. We settled up at the end and it was just fine. It worked out so well, we were happy to do the same trip again!”

ALSO: Everyone can agree, signing up for Orbitz Rewards is a great way to earn discounted travel!


Enjoy the journey together…and apart

Do you share the same spirit of adventure? You don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) spend every waking minute together. If they all want to go sailing and you just want to take a hike, offer them some latitude, without the attitude. Eileen Goldberg of Northbrook, Illinois noted that some of the girls on her Napa Valley trip wanted to ride in a hot air balloon. The ones that didn’t went shopping instead. Everyone was happy.

Keep an open mind

Consider doing something out of your comfort zone. Maybe a few ziplines might be fun. Try a Sip & Paint class. I once took a cruise with a girlfriend who loved going to the on board art auctions. I went with her, something I never would have done with my husband. I learned something about the artists and their works. Now I’m hooked!

Mira Tempkin

Photo courtesy of Mira Tempkin

Have a great time

The key to a successful vacation is managing expectations while still being flexible. Talk about some of the thorny issues beforehand and get a pulse on everyone’s feelings. That way you’re assured of a great vacation, an envious tan and someone to share special memories with you!

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Mira Temkin

Mira Temkin

Lover of lore with a thirst for adventure, Mira has her bags packed -- ready to go in a flash. She writes with spirited soul about destinations, hotels and spas.

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