I will be honest here with you in this precious space: I would rather be stranded in space like Sandra Bullock in "Gravity" than spend a cottage weekend with any of you.
I’m sorry, but I hate nature (when I can’t hop in my car and abandon it whenever I want). I also hate communal spaces, small talk in the morning, sleeping on floors or on old, uncomfortable beds, and not having enough time to live my own life or be my best self. In short, I would rather be woken up by my cat before sunrise every morning than share a bathroom with a slew of humans like it’s our first year college dorm all over again. (See: I did not stay in residence in university for this very reason.)
But sometimes you have to. And I say "you" because my friends are all very aware that I will not ever go to their cottages and only the promise of Harry Styles being in attendance will change my mind. "You," on the other hand, are likely quite polite and accommodating and will happily deal with everything I just mentioned because you’re a lovely, kind friend. But I’m not. So with honesty and hurtful bluntness in mind, here’s how to survive a cottage weekend if you’d rather be doing anything but that. Bless your patient hearts.
1. Try not to go
I mean, I’m just going to start here. Have you tried not going? Have you said "Nope, I can’t, I hate this, I can’t do it"? Have you really? Try this, and then report back.
Didn’t work? Okay, well next time say it like you’re almost offended that you’d be asked in the first place. Or just print out this page and hand it to them and say, “I hate the outdoors.”
2. Remember: this is not a hotel
Which means there is nothing for you here and you can rely on no one but yourself. There are no tiny shampoos, no tiny conditioners, nor facewash more expensive than your own. There are other people, yes, but they likely forgot their own gear so they’ll be trolling for whatever available toiletries they can get their greedy hands on.
This means that you buy and bring for yourself; that you scour the travel section of Shoppers and Sephora and buy face wipes (because good luck washing your face like an actual person with one bathroom between 16 people), tiny shampoo, tiny conditioner, tiny soap, a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, and all the dry shampoo you can muster. Why? Because by Saturday (the morning of your arrival), you’ve realized that one shower between the amount of people on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album is a hellscape the likes of which not even Wes Craven would dare tackle.
3. So: dry shampoo
Like, I can’t stress this enough. (Batiste is great! Dare to dream!) And on top of this, any humidity-fighting hairspray in travel-sized form. Am I repeating myself? Yes, and that’s because I’ve forgotten both before, and that was when spending the weekend in a hotel, not the farm from Charlotte’s Web. People will be Instagramming like monsters. You have to have your own back.
4. Keep makeup so minimal you want to physically sob
I have done cottage weekends one of two ways: 1) ill-prepared, and 2) not at all. So learn from my mistakes. Scrap the makeup bag. I’m not kidding. You will be working in a less-than-ideal lighting situation, and any/all makeup you apply will also somehow absorb into your face in a way usually reserved for horror films about houses of wax. So: CC cream or BB cream, some type of powder (the choice of yours), mascara, one to two shades of lip whatever, and then anything needed for your eyebrows. That’s it. Trust me. This is not a contour-friendly zone. Now is not the time for strobing. Get in, get out, and do what you’ve got to do to survive. (Also, this way if you crash without washing your face — a.k.a. The Anne T Donahue Special™ — the world will not come to an end.)
All of it. All types. I don’t care which brand, but I care that you bring no less than 12 bottles. Because you know who will hate a cottage weekend sunburn? You, because it’s a reminder of the fact that you were at a cottage at all. Apply every hour, on the hour, and whenever somebody makes a snide, Mike’s Hard Lemonade-induced remark, smile to yourself knowing that when they’re suffering the effects of heat stroke and/or serious skin damage, you will not be, you smart, beautiful soul.
6. Aloe vera gel
Not for you — for the idiot who didn’t put on sunscreen all day. You’re a nice, kind, wonderful person, and now they will be forever in your debt.
7. Imodium, Gravol, and Pepto Bismol
Also known as The Holy Trinity. Things happen at cottages. People forget how to cook. Other people drink too much. And people like me have IBS and can’t eat like, anything, without thinking, "Why did I think today I could eat dairy?" This is what your first aid kit is for. Everyone will have Tylenol. Someone will bring Advil. But no one will be prepared for needing to reign in any/all stomach symptoms in a shared bathroom situation. No one ... except you.
8. Stretchy pants and/or loungewear
Now is not the time to waste outfits. Now is the time to lounge and dress like a lady of leisure. Now is the time to wear oversize jogging pants and those free T-shirts you’ve been given by various bars and/or alcohol companies in the course of your short life. Let your skin breathe. Let your waistbands contract and expand to fit you. Sleep knowing that if you somehow lose or forget something, you won’t care because it’s a Guinness top you got on St. Patrick’s Day once when you walked by a pub. Leave anything nice back home with your spirit. Nothing you’re proud of wants to share this weekend with you.
9. A bathing suit?
I hate water and I hate swimming and I hate hot weather, so I’m assuming you or someone you know will need this. Personally, I would choose to spend the day inside, but you do you, I guess.
10. Anti-mosquito kit: bug spray, long sleeves, a hoodie, long pants, socks, shoes
You will be warm. You will be too warm. You will maybe want to pass away. But you will thank me when everyone’s been attacked by the living dead and you were not. Especially because halfway through the bonfire you got up, put your belongings in the car, and sat in the car listening to Rihanna, driving home.
Cottage weekend 2016, everybody: like "Gravity," but worse. Good luck.