Our Camper Van Trip Was The Ultimate Girls Trip

Author: Maureen Nicol

It’s not a girls trip until someone cries.

On the last night of our epic girls trip through the Pacific Northwest with Vansquatch, the vehicle for our reunion, I opened up to the girls about how thankful I am that they stick with me through all of the storms. I have weathered a lot, and they never made me feel anything but loved.

In that moment we agreed that we all found each other at the right time. We intentionally chose each other and this friendship group. And for five days we chose to take a girls trip and spend our time as close together as possible in the Vansquatch exploring the coast of Oregon.

I cannot remember when we first hung out, but I remember that our friendship formed quickly and organically. Somehow our experiences and chats together filled (in) parts of ourselves that we did not know we needed.

Some Needed Backstory

Leslie, Kiana and Cristina became friends when they lived in Austin, Texas and worked for a natural hair company.

Years ago, as a newbie in Austin, Texas, I thought each woman was simply the coolest. I was enamored with how creatively unbound, stylish, stunning, funny, honest and kind they were. You know, all of the things you say about your best friends. Now, I realize that the way we see each other is through love goggles – caring, supportive, and validating.

In 2019, we decided to put our friendship to the test by jumping on a Scott Keyes Cheap Flights deal to Guatemala. We knew nothing about Guatemala. We did not plan anything, and we did not communicate about the trip beforehand. But we all agree it was one of the best girls trips we had ever been on. Since that trip we have seen each other here and there but we had not all been together in three years. And based on the vibe in the group chat, we eagerly anticipated being reunited.

So, it happened. We decided to meet in Portland and make the four-hour drive to the Coos Bay area. This region is known for beaches, waterfalls, and amazing seafood. Here is a breakdown of how our trip went! Maybe you will imagine what your next girls trip can be. Just know, we did not skimp on the gossip, the food, the wine, or the fashion.

Arrival Day in Portland

Since we were all traveling from different places (New York, Austin, and New Orleans), we wanted a day to chill and get acclimated before jumping in the van. We stayed at the Hoxton on the edge of Chinatown.

While in the city, we watched bad reality TV. We visited Portland Flea for some vintage finds. I submitted my dissertation. And we had an amazing dinner and drinks at Hey Love – the most beautiful and vibey place for bites and drinks. Most importantly, we ordered our Whole Foods groceries for pick up in Eugene, Oregon – a stopover in between Coos Bay and Portland. Ordering ahead saved us lots of time we otherwise would have spent pushing a grocery cart.

Morning of the First Day in the Van

On the morning before we headed out to pick up our van, we stopped to enjoy a yummy breakfast. Then we met our van host, Aaron. He gave us a 90-minute tutorial on how to safely enjoy and live in the van. All of the information came in handy.

As we drove to Coos Bay, we caught up on relationships, big projects, transitions, skin care routines, and gossip. So many things occurred in our lives that were worthy of discussion and advice. When we were not talking or sitting with new information, we bonded over music and funny memories. Here’s our playlist for the drive. I did not fully appreciate Adele’s Woman Like Me until the girls lyrically broke down this masterpiece for me.

four women stand in front of building with athletic clothes on

The Stay: Bay Point Landing RV Park

We got into Coos Bay late into the night and we were tired, disoriented, and cold. We stayed at Bay Point Landing, a modern camping destination with curated amenities. The campground had a heated swimming pool, fitness center, club room, and showers.

With Vansquatch, we booked an RV campsite which averages about $50/night. Bay Point Landing was the perfect place to call home with our van because we wanted the nice amenities while also feeling grounded by nature and the company of each other. The RV park is centrally located near heaps of restaurants, beaches, hikes, and grocery stores.

Cristina's Packing List

One of the things that makes a girls trip so special, is the ability to fire off really cute outfits. Especially given the backdrop of the past two years with nowhere to go, for us, this trip was a reason to wear our comfiest and cutest athleisure pieces. We packed smart but cute. Just because you are glamping or campervaning does not mean the excitement of being a little fancy should not be there.

We all packed: hiking shoes/sneakers, a swimsuit, a one piece performance body suit, several layer-able options, sweatshirt/hoodie sandals/slides, and a lightweight jacket. Here is a look into Cristina’s packing prep.

Sunday - Uniqlo trench, New Balance, cashmere, white tee, black sweats

Monday - Uniqlo trench, New Balance, leggings, cashmere, hat

Tuesday - socks, Birkenstocks, leggings, sweatshirt, Uniqlo trench

Wednesday - hiking boots, sweatpants, sweatshirt, heat tech, hat

Thursday - leggings, socks, New Balance, cashmere, Uniqlo

Friday (travel) - Uniqlo, sweatpants, New Balance, cashmere scarf, white tee

Highlights of our Trip

1. Ownership of Time

We could do anything we wanted to do, including cooking lunch at the beach while watching the waves crash against the rocks, followed by a nap in the van for some of the girls.

2. The Cuddles!

The van was a tight space for four adults, but we love to be close to each other. One of the best memories for me was waking up and falling asleep with my best friends.

3. Exploring

The only stressful part of our days was determining what to see. We started our days with incredibly slow mornings, followed by long breakfasts, and a quick check-in on our devices. Then it would shockingly be noon, and we would all say, “Well, I guess we should do something today!?!?” We each took turns picking a hike or a sights to see. We were together and that’s what mattered most.

4. Slowing Down

We all live busy lives where we are constantly on for the people and projects we hold dear. This trip had no expectations. We had no agenda, and there was nothing forced. The Vansquatch gave us the agency to go, but most importantly to also pause.

5. Conversing with ourselves, nature, and the mundane

I think this was the most important one for us. Because of our camper van girls trip, we were able to cook together, problem solve together, and work through things that only felt right to discuss in person.

We were in conversation with each other, but we were also in gentle conversation with ourselves. Being by the water, seeing waterfall after waterfall, and watching the sunset, left us speechless. And it gave us the inspiration and courage to find the words we had been looking for.

Take the Girls Trip In A Camper Van

In the two years that went by since our last girls trip, time seemed stagnant and slow. The world was sadder in every way possible. Human connection was in demand. I’ve been reflecting on what made this girls trip so special. Maybe it was because of all of the ruptures in the world or the mini revolutions we have been going through – a new baby, job transitions, geographic moves, breakups, etc. These life events are all markers to prove time is not stagnant, though it seemed to move more slowly because of the time and space that was between us.

What made this trip special was the people. The van was messy because it was tight with four adults. It took us forever to get ready every single day. There was a learning curve to figure out how to move through the van efficiently. But I would do it again and again and again because there is nothing more fulfilling and humbling than living, traveling, and exploring with your dream girls while being untethered and unbothered.

This trip truly made time stand still in a way that was restorative. My eyes are all the way open on how to reimagine girls trips because maybe without all of the distractions and frills that inundate narratives of a classic girls trip, I was able to be reminded of why I chose my girls and what it feels like to be chosen by my people who make the world stand still – even if  it’s just for a few days.

Ready to plan a girls trip?

The big takeaway from our trip is that many vacations don’t actually leave you feeling rested. But this one did. It’s important to make time for vacations with people, and do things that leave you feeling rested too. You don’t have to see everything and do everything just because you are taking time off.

Browse camper van rentals in your region and start that group chat with your girls!