The Magic of a Girls' Trip

By: Shameka Brown Barbosa
By: Shameka Brown Barbosa
Something special happens when you step into a new world with a group of friends.

When I signed up for the Zen In Zanzibar trip with the Nomad•ness Travel Tribe in December 2018, I didn’t expect to take another trip 6 months later with a new group of friends. But that’s exactly what happened.

I arrived in Zanzibar with my Godsister, Joy, who I had invited along on the trip. Over the next 6 days, we bonded with this amazing group of women. And when Joy shared news of her engagement in our What’s App chat shortly after our return home, a splinter group formed immediately. Suddenly, a destination bachelorette party was in the works. #ForTheLoveOfJoy and “The Tanzanites” were born.

It took some time for Joy, Carly, Shatani, Jenese, April, Tandra, Candace, Taty, Camille, Kenyaita and me to settle on a destination. We are all travelers. I mean, we met in Africa! Would it be Curacao, Columbia or Cuba? The list was seemingly endless, but we eventually landed on San Juan, Puerto Rico in an effort to add our spending to the island’s economy, as it still tried to recover from Hurricane Maria.

We also had the benefit of deferring most decisions to one person: the bride-to-be. So, our choices became a lot easier to make. Here’s how our trip became one of the best I’ve ever taken:

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

When everyone in your group has busy schedules, only a few people need to be in charge of the planning. Fortunately, Jenese and Kenyaita went right to work and started researching villas on VRBO. As a regular visitor to the island, Jenese knew we needed to be in Condado. So, our home for the weekend was a beautiful, 11-bedroom mansion in the heart of San Juan.

Select A Point Person

Even the best of friends can get funny when it comes to money. Since we live all over the US, the organizing had to take place virtually. April set up a Google spreadsheet to track our interest in the trip and our deposits for the villa. I became the money point person and listed my Zelle, Venmo, PayPal and Cash App within that same online document for easy reference along with the due dates.

Plan an Itinerary

For many of us, it was our first time on the island. So, we wanted to see as much as we could over Memorial weekend. After Joy weighed in on what she wanted to do, the rest of us filled in the gaps. April also took on the research and created a FB poll.

In the end, we settled on a beach day, a Puerto Rican moonshine tasting, a day on a catamaran, a half-day trip to El Yunque rainforest, an Afro percussion workshop and a farewell dinner at Barrachina, where the piña colada was invented! Most activities included everyone, but there was also an opportunity to opt-out and do your own thing. Feel out your group and give them some space.

Eat and Drink Well

We chose a villa, so we could cook for ourselves. And we sure ate well! We made a grocery run on the first evening. And with Carly and Jenese in charge of the cooking and my mixologist-in-training skills, there was always plenty to eat and drink. But if your group doesn’t have someone who can throw down in the kitchen, consider adding a chef to your overall budget.

Pics Please

While it’s easy to get swept up in the moment, remember pause to capture it! You can always ask a stranger to take a picture of your group and oftentimes, they’re happy to do it. We usually travelled in a pack and were met with friendly curiosity everywhere we went. So, there was never a shortage of possible photographers! And thanks to Taty’s keen eye, we now have an EPIC group picture on a cobblestone street in Old San Juan.

This trip was truly the embodiment of #BlackGirlMagic. It’s hard to even comprehend that most of us met only a few months ago. But I will travel anywhere with these ladies. Their sense of adventure and zest for life are infectious. And their payment game is on-point!

Our What’s App chat (which is still going strong) is also a constant source of support and inspiration. The last few months have included the ups and downs of wedding planning, job searches, divorce proceedings, grad school interviews and daily rigors of being a Black woman in a professional world. And we have held virtual hands through it all. This trip became the icing on the cake. So, where will we go next? South Africa is looking good!

Have you ever taken a girls’ trip? If so, where to? Share a pic by tagging us @MBIB on IG, Facebook or Twitter.

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