By Megan Seckman

In 13-plus years of being a wife and mother, I never once took a trip without my clan. Every vacation up to this point has been centered around fulfilling someone else’s requests and creative compromises. While bonding with my family is magical and most of the time makes my heart grow two sizes, it was evident that Mama needed a little break. I was displaying all the symptoms: chronic nagging, feelings of being unappreciated, and acute wanderlust fantasies.

Enter the remedy: Girls Trip.

Planning a quick girls trip was actually quite easy. Turns out when the women get together, there are very few requests to fulfill. The four of us are all on a budget, so we wanted something simple, close, and affordable. We took a quick poll of everyone’s desires for the weekend and came up with this list: mountains, yoga, a five-hour max drive time, thrifting, and drinking. After quickly ruling out the ashram idea (bringing your wine there is a deal breaker), we took to a map. My friend, April Leasure, lives in Brevard, North Carolina, so we decided to go north of Asheville, and meet in the mountains of Mars Hill.

Clockwise from top left: Becca Taylor, Kelly Sullivan, Megan Seckman, and April Leisure modeled lopsided glasses they found in their rental car. 

As soon as we determined a long weekend that worked for everyone’s schedules, we booked an Airbnb in the mountains for around $100 per person. Each person brought a bag of groceries and libations, and we copacetically pot-lucked most of the weekend without any concern for picky palates, schedules, or meltdowns.

“Coming from a household where I am constantly needed by geriatric dogs and a 4-year-old, it was liberating to simply fend for myself,” said Becca Taylor, teacher and resident wisecracker of our group. “If I wanted to have dinner leftovers for breakfast, that decision affected no one but me. What an amazing concept.”

The group took a selfie at French Broad River.

Our group included two teachers, a massage therapist/esthetician, and a chemist. The even number four worked out great because the group was able to split up when needed to accommodate our individual needs. April and I hiked the Appalachian Trail while Becca and Kelly Sullivan participated in an unadulterated thrifting extravaganza. Kelly, the chemist, ended up with a full-body sequined body suit and a light-up Christmas tree made from pipecleaners — just because she could.

When we reconvened that evening at the cabin overlooking a gorgeous sunset, we made our cocktails, warmed up snacks, changed into our favorite stretch-pants, and built a fire in the firepit. Esthetician April treated us to professional facials. It was hard to keep our masked faces from cracking with the constant barrage of silly banter and vulgarity spewing forth from our freed lips. It was awfully nice for me to not have to be in charge or watch my cursing or mind anyone’s sensitive feelings for a change. It was blissful.

The last day we woke up at sunrise to a surprise snowstorm. Our vehicles couldn’t make it out of the very steep driveway, but our female synergism and natural problem-solving abilities got us out of our quagmire. We used leftover shingles found underneath the house for traction, and April mastered how to back out of the steep incline. Although the cold reality that our peaceful women’s commune experience was coming to an end lingered on the horizon, we ended our trip with frozen high-fives looking out over another symbolic accomplishment.

The girls trip was a success — we all left feeling a little more like ourselves than our families. We all left with aching sides from the laughter (and chocolate and cheese). We all left having aired our grievances to ears that truly listened and understood one another. I think Becca said it best: “Getting in touch with my uncensored opinions, my independence, and my goofiness is just what I needed to feel like an individual again.”

Where to Stay
If heading to Asheville, try surrounding areas for more affordable rentals. Mars Hill was about 45 minutes from downtown Asheville, which made for a great day-trip. Our rental was in the Laurel Hill Ski resort area — quiet with breathtaking views and connected to the Appalachian Trail.

What to Pack
While away from the duty of meal planning, we tended to fend for ourselves. We ate plates of roasted Brussels sprouts and portobello mushrooms for dinner, followed by chocolate and cheese for snacking. The organic melange of groceries made for interesting impromptu cuisine, but most importantly, there was no burden to cook a coordinated meal for others.

Megan and her friend April withstand the icy weather. 

Other items that sweetened the experience:

  • Games (Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, cards)
  • Skin products (I really enjoyed trying what others use)
  • Booze and mixers
  • Portable speakers for music
  • Hiking boots and clothing layers for mountain weather
  • Books
  • Stretch pants because you’re with your girls all weekend
  • Blankets to sit with by the fire (the Airbnb provided these, but we used them quite a bit)
  • Podcasts for the roadtrip (excellent for filling time and sparking conversation)

Not to Miss

  • White Duck Taco Shop: The best fancy tacos I’ve ever had. My favorite was the Bangkok Shrimp taco with a curried cucumber slaw on top — out of this world. Also try the Banh Mi Tofu taco and the generous fish taco. I was stuffed and amazed for around $12.
  • Chai Pan Asheville: Indian street food with a laid-back vibe. Delicious, affordable, aromatic, fresh Indian dishes.