Is there anything better than a good laugh? Yes: a good laugh with wonderful friends. There is something so free-ing about a great, bone deep laugh. I think it makes our brain smile.
Guest blogger LORI STONE reminds us about the importance of laughing with girlfriends. Some of her best memories (and laughs) have come while traveling with wonderful women. Here’s to the fab females who make us free enough for those great, uncontrollable laughs.
I adore belly laughter. It should be bottled and marketed in the pain management aisle of drug stores. It heals in so many ways and I can’t get enough. I learned it from my mother and her mother. They would cackle with laughter in any situation, from grocery store to gas station. So I count my blessings every day knowing that the tribe of women in my life are belly laughers. The kind of laughter that drops you to the floor and leaves you gasping for air.
And have you ever noticed that we rarely belly laugh when we’re alone? That’s because laughter is a social mechanism and tied intricately to our relationships. And there’s something about the bonds of women that lend so well to it.
So here’s the beauty of taking a vacation with your girlfriends, especially when it’s off the beaten path: no one knows you. You can act like complete knuckleheads and your boss, co-workers, kids, and every other stodgy grown-up out there will be none-the-wiser. I may argue that we probably need permission to be a wee bit sillier in our daily lives, too. But travel, silliness, and girlfriends…that’s a magic combination and opportunity for mischief.
Throughout my travels, both here in the US and around the world, I now tend to navigate towards those women who have that little gleam of mischievousness in their eyes. You know her…that woman that jumps at the chance to do something fun or unusual. The woman who won’t hesitate to join you on a jog around the neighborhood when she realizes you sincerely mean to do it in a tutu.
While I know many men who thrive as group travelers, women seem to have a great capacity to share and connect which can lend well to exploration. About halfway through my 18-month career break sabbatical this year, I’ve had the chance to meet all kinds of women who are embarking on similar adventures. By hosting community meetups like Meet Plan Go, with an audience primarily of women, I’m seeing clear evidence that I’m not alone in these travel desires.
Some years ago, a group of my female friends all got together for what we called “Jammie Fest;” our cheesy renaming of the casual slumber party, albeit with cocktails. We were in our 20s and one of us in the group had never been to a slumber party as a young girl so it was the perfect opportunity to get together. Sixteen years later, we are still going strong. We’ve taken the opportunity to reconnect once a year even though we have scattered to different cities, have varied obligations, and a wide range of life experiences and interests. We could expend lots of energy and money into fancy destinations, but each year we pick a new location for the least cost possible and we’ve had the amazing opportunities to kayak on lazy rivers, sneak into playgrounds at night, camp without an ounce of glamor, and scream on Space Mountain.
But mostly, we laugh. We laugh REALLY well. Much of the laughter comes at our own expense and from our shared history. Something I noticed this year, however, is that we have become better because of this safe space to be ridiculous. By connecting to your own tribe of women – from friends to family to colleagues and beyond – consider what those connections have to offer:
- Grow more accepting of others through an ability to relate through humor
- Challenge the social norms that women must be coy and demure all the times
- Dismiss cattiness that can form in casual female groups
- Gain joy and inspiration from story-telling
- Provide a safe space to talk about serious topics of challenge, loss, and grief
- Reduce travel stress
- View the world with the wide eyes of young girls despite your adult ages
I don’t know that my now 40-something gal pals would have this same experience if we all got to see each other more often. The novelty and newness of each travel location lends very well to our sense of adventure as we pick up where we left off the prior year. I cherish the simple joy we’ve created and glow with excitement every time I meet similar women’s travel groups, from their 20s to their 80s.
I also have a special place in my heart for the power and freedom of solo female travel and do it frequently. But now and again, there is such comfort knowing that my tribe awaits—my Jammie Fest partners in crime and my girlfriends scattered around the globe who enjoy saying “yes!” We have so much more waiting out there to explore together. I’ll bring the tutus.
LORI STONE is proprietor of The Joy Guild, a big kid at heart living in Seattle, Washington as a cancer survivor-turned-advocate, fair weather performer, photography teacher, process muse, and globe wanderer. Host of Seattle’s Meet Plan Go National Event on October 16, 2012 for the career break and sabbatical travel movement, she continues to envision a world where people increasingly find play AND work that brings them joy.
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