By Cassie Shortsleeve

As we get older, vacations have a way of being reserved for family only. And while no one can complain about a romantic getaway with your partner or a fun family trip, a jaunt with the girls has a way of bringing you back decades (to lazy days spent in college dorms or to summer high school road trips). It can also build a foundation for a whole slew of brand new memories.

But a carefree trip also involves a little bit of careful planning. Read on for how to put together the perfect ladies-only escape — no matter where you’re going or who you’re bringing along for the ride.

Pick the Perfect Destination

Choosing a place to go is only part of the planning process. It’s important to dig a little deeper to make sure your destination du jour delivers on what you’re expecting out of it.

For example, want to see the Northern Lights? Plan your trip to Reykjavik between September and April when that extra darkness thanks to long nights will help you cross it off your bucket list.

And if you’re looking for a Hawaiian beach vaca? Hit Maui between April and October for the best chance of sunny beach weather during your stay.

Pre-trip research can help you pinpoint the best time to go where and what to expect in your destination once you arrive.

Consider People’s Personalities

When we travel, our personalities don’t change that much — so while everyone can likely benefit from a beach day, it’s important to take into consideration what everyone wants out of a trip. For example: Do you all like swimming? Are you feeling more of a spa vibe? Does the group prefer wine or beer?

These are important questions that can help you both pick a destination and draft an itinerary. Remember, it’s okay to split up, too! A destination like Scottsdale provides both award-winning spas and rewarding hikes all within miles of one another.

Keep Your Wallet Happy

Vacations always come with a price tag, but with the right planning, costs don’t have to be through the roof. Pick out one or two activities you want to splurge on as a group (a nice dinner out or professional photographs) then take advantage of free activities — a long walk through a national park, a free local concert, or a guided run led by a hotel staff member.

Seek Out Hidden Gems

Famous landmarks and must-see monuments have their place in every itinerary. But polling your Instagram friends for personal recommendations, grabbing the local paper once you arrive, or asking a local barista for their favourite spots can also lead you to under-the-radar, less-touristy spots — antique shops or fairs/events that might be going on while you’re in town. These have a way of making for the best memories (and unexpected photo ops, too!).