The results of our "Got a Girlfriend Getaway Tradition?" contest are in.
Whenever my friend Winnie and I go on holiday, we always trade jobs. I'm a photojournalist, and Winnie is a social worker. Both of us prefer to leave our work life behind while we're vacationing, but whenever we meet new people, usually one of the first questions is "What do you do for a living?" Switching jobs keeps the conversation flowing and gives us a fresh perspective when we return. Jody Kurash, Washington, D.C.
Jody wins a fabulous girlfriend getaway for two to Miami's Bal Harbour Village, courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and its partners. The prize includes round-trip airline tickets; two nights at the Sea View Hotel in Bal Harbour; one $500 gift card for the Bal Harbour Shops; one Bal Harbour Passport, offering $2,000 in shopping, dining, and spa privileges; dinner for two at Carpaccio at Bal Harbour Shops; and admission for two to The Fifth nightclub in South Beach, where they'll get a VIP table and a bottle of champagne.
My girlfriends and I are in our early 50s. Wherever we go, we always take small squirt guns with us. When we see a girl that we consider a Barbie-doll girl--great looking, perfect figure, etc.--we squirt her. She never figures out where the water is coming from, and we enjoy a laugh or two. Rebecca Winchester, Bemus Point, N.Y.
Back when we were young and single, my girlfriend Susan and I went on several camping trips and made a lot of s'mores. Now we do short birthday trips. One year, Susan surprised me with a portable s'more maker with a grill. So now, no matter where we go, I take it along, and we enjoy s'mores and lots of reminiscing. Gwen Rohan, Huntsville, Ala.
Each year, about 10 of my college friends and I get together for our annual girls' weekend. Regardless of where we go, our friend Wynne packs the Magic Date Ball (similar to the Magic 8 Ball, but it's pink). We spend the weekend touring, talking, laughing, and consulting the Magic Date Ball on all sorts of life decisions. Laura May, Nashville, Tenn.
One year, while planning our annual getaway, my mother and I reached a stalemate (she likes the beach, I like Europe). So we drew our destination out of a hat. We've now incorporated that into our decision making...although I caught her cheating last year by putting extra bids for Walt Disney World in the pot. We've been to Hawaii, London, Paris, Tuscany, and, of course, Disney World. Stephanie Marchant, Atlanta, Ga.
On our decade birthdays (e.g., 50), we each contribute to a cause by doing something we've never done before. On my girlfriend's 50th birthday, we walked a marathon in Ireland and raised $4,300 each for the Arthritis Foundation. Karen Ideker, Olympia, Wash.
At every place we visit, my best friend and I create a thumbs-up, thumbs-down list. We take pictures, too, so that mixed in with the historic sites and beautiful scenery are photos of ourselves giving a thumbs-up to an amazing gelato station or a thumbs-down to the pay phone we couldn't figure out how to use. Julianna Keyes, Medford, Mass.
We always take a Where's Waldo?-type picture. We spread out in a crowd in busy places such as the Spanish Steps. When we get home, it's fun to find ourselves in the crowded pictures. Jane Immel, Fredericksburg, Tex.
My sisters and I started a tradition by planning a surprise trip for our eldest sister's 60th birthday. We gave her hints and photos along the way so she could try to guess where we were taking her--of course, some of the hints were a little misleading. Since this summer is my 60th, I got a photo of what looked like a ghost of the Virgin Mary, along with a hint that we would definitely be traveling by car and boat. We have as much fun with the hints and guesses as the trip itself. Joyce Lucier, Bangor, Maine
Every year, 10 deputy sheriffs from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department rent a house in Door County. We make a videotaped scavenger hunt and see who can make it to Door County first. Over the years, the group has eaten pickled eggs and chased chickens to grab a feather. We also ask bartenders along the way if they wear boxers or briefs and then ask for the underwear as an article for our hunt. This is our weekend--to abandon the uniform, to talk for hours, but most importantly, since we work in a male-dominated profession, to feel like women again. Debby Vanderboom, Waukesha, Wis.
No matter where we go on our girlfriend getaway, we don't leave home without a simple college-ruled notebook. The book is stuffed with six years of gossip, goals, heartbreaks, and dreams. Our diary immortalizes our years of college flirtations and includes inspirational quotes, random musings, and our ever-changing ambitions (of course, we always welcome feedback in the margins). Even after our time at college ran out, the pages in our diary did not. Our freshly updated diary comes with us to each girlfriend retreat. And we can't wait to make new memories together, since we know we'll have very little catching-up to do. Michelle Neyland, Falls Church, Va.
We throw a sheet over all mirrors and let go. You let your friends do your hair and makeup, and they tell you what to wear. At first it's difficult to let go, but then you feel so pampered. Rhonda Mello,Mammoth Cave, Ky.
Every summer, we take the month of June off and rent a villa, an apartment, a hut--whatever we can get our hands on in a foreign city. Then we shop open-air markets for fresh local ingredients and wine. We go back to our place, and everyone is in charge of making something. It's all simple and fresh, but the ambience and company are the best parts. Shannon Hunter, Atlanta, Ga.
I met some of my best friends in an online chat room discussing Diana Gabaldon's Scottish time-travel novels. We now call ourselves The Loopies and meet once a year. Our members come from the U.S., Canada, Tanzania, England, and the Czech Republic, and range in age from 30 to 70. At our gatherings, we always play a trivia game we created based on Gabaldon's books. The winner gets a homemade doll that looks like Jamie Fraser, a character from one of the novels. Diane Everett, Newtown, Conn.
My girlfriends and I go camping at a state park located one town away. We always pick the second week in September, when the kids are back at school and we have the park, the ponds, and the grounds to ourselves. We swim, bike, eat, drink, and laugh. Cool showers, no makeup, no fancy clothes. Peg Zaniboni, Harwich, Mass.
We take a little hot-pink-haired doll we've named Polly Prissypants on all our girlfriend getaways. We add something to her outfit every time we travel, and she finds her way into just about all of our pictures. In between trips, she even sends e-mails to all the girls to let them know how the planning is coming along. Sarah LaRose, Atlanta, Ga.
We always play Girls' Jeopardy. We write down interesting questions on little pieces of paper and put them into a container. With queries like "Name two things you'd change about your husband" and "What would you do if you won the lottery but had only one week to live?" the game sparks both philosophical discussions and all-out gigglefests. The game works best with a pitcher of margaritas nearby. Beth Fernald, Sharon, N.H.
We buy the most outrageous date shoes and promise to wear them at least three times over the next year. Pictures are required as proof. If anyone doesn't keep her word, she has to host a catered affair for the girls before the next trip. Elizabeth Musser, Washington, D.C.
Since 1998, Angie and I have traveled together once a year. On our first trip, we got henna tattoos at the Renaissance Festival in Minneapolis. Ever since, whether in the Wisconsin Dells or Jamaica, we always get temporary tattoos. Our kids tell us it's pretty funky considering we're middle-aged baby nurses. Beth Gregoryk, Wilton, N.D.
Every year, my five best girlfriends and I bring photos when we reunite. We make sure to include shots of the not-so-interesting aspects of our lives--our desks at work, the trainer at the gym who looks like David Schwimmer--so that we can really share one another's lives. Berit Rabinovitz, Boulder, Colo.