My most memorable girls' trip was at 19 - my first overseas holiday and the first holiday I'd arranged and paid for myself. My friend Nicki and I decided to take advantage of the three-month summer break from uni and headed to Perth, where my brother lived. It's hardly a culture shock heading to Australia, but there were several differences from hometown Wellington that struck me immediately: the heat (42C one day), the bugs (those giant cockroaches are something else) and drive-through liquor outlets (plus a younger drinking age than we had then).
Perth is such a beautiful, well-designed city with a fully integrated public transport system and divine beaches - I fell in love, figuratively and literally. A Canadian boyfriend with a motorbike and two helmets meant I explored the city and the wider state thoroughly, and a summer job in a convenience store meant I met so many locals that I felt completely at home. With one more year on my degree, I reluctantly returned home with determination to return at year's end. As happens though, memories fade and plans change. I'll always have fond memories of that summer: three months that saw me discover my own resourcefulness and independence.
Take a trip to the Eastern coastline of Kenya's second-largest city, Mombasa. I did; with about 10 girls I'd never met, from California. It was an invitation of a lifetime that had females from all ethnic backgrounds walking the white sands of Mombasa Beach (or taking a camel) while getting a sun-kissed glow, waking up to a sunset that stretched as far as the eye could see and jet skiing at the Tamarind Village overlooking the picturesque Old Town Mombasa.
It was never a place I'd think to travel to; my friends often hit Thailand, Bali, or the Pacific Islands, but they knew how to party just as hard, if not more. Though the travel was long, it's well worth it once you're flying high above the Masai Mara, home to Masai lions, Tanzanian cheetahs, zebra and other wild animals.
Whatever you do, when you're planning your girls trip, don't do what I did: At 9.30pm on Saturday night, with a 6am flight to Bali the next day, I realised my passport had expired. I'm pretty sure the expletives were heard across town. Long story short, I got a new passport and made that 6am flight. It cost me a large amount of money but I made it. I was in Bali for exactly six days of healthy eating, yoga, exercise, massages, plus a couple of drinks with little umbrellas in them thrown in.
Fifteen ladies, some of whom I knew, some who were strangers. It was enlightening, fun, a little bit spiritual, and one of the best trips I've been on. We're all friends now, and have regular catch-ups over bowls of home-made gado gado. Did I mention we had a cooking lesson in Bali as well? We're all quite the experts now.
CAPTAIN BARBARA THOMSON
AIR NEW ZEALAND, BOEING 777 CAPTAIN
In all my years flying with Air New Zealand, I'd never had the opportunity to operate a long-haul flight with an all-female crew until October 2016. I was lucky enough to be part of a special crew of four women who flew Auckland to London return, landing in Auckland on the 80th Anniversary of Jean Batten's record breaking solo England-New Zealand flight.
It was an incredible trip. In addition to marking the anniversary of a historic flight by an iconic Kiwi aviator, it was great to spend time in the flight deck with other women, given we don't get the opportunity too often. I got a completely different and eye-opening perspective of the aviation world and travel and got to have some great conversations about art, children and fashion - rather than the usual cars, boats and planes! It was a fantastic experience and one we all vowed to repeat if we could.
I'm super impressed with myself, my girlfriends (and also my husband at home) when I look back at the epic Hens weekend we spent at the Melbourne Cup Derby Day five years ago. Sometimes it takes the push of an un-missable event, like a dear friend's wedding, to make you venture out from the usual family routine. This was that sort of trip. We shopped, we rocked the Melbourne nightlife, and put in a 14-hour effort at the Cup. It really is a premier event.
Then there's the amazing eye candy - we couldn't stop ogling the beautifully dressed women - which deteriorates fairly rapidly as afternoon approaches, in fact that downward spiral is all part of the entertainment!