So, you've decided to tackle a long trail, but your partner isn't joining you on the journey. The team here at Next Miles Meals have completed quite a few hikes alongside our partners and without our partners, so we know it can definitely be tough to hit the trail alone, but it doesn't have to mean trouble for your relationship at home. Here are some tips to help you stay connected and keep things strong with your significant other.
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE.
Before you head out, make sure you and your partner are on the same page about how often you'll be able to check in and what kind of contact you'll be able to have while on the trail. Clear communication will help avoid any misunderstandings later on. Even if you’re not a heavy texter at home or if phone calls are the bane of your existence, level up your communication while you’re apart to compensate for the distance. Remember, YOU might be having an epic adventure that is keeping you distracted from the pain of separation, but your partner is likely much more aware of your absence in their daily life.
UNDERSTAND THEIR CONCERNS.
Remember that your partner may not understand the desire to hike a long trail and they may have feelings of fear or sadness about you leaving. Be understanding and reassure them that you will be safe and that you are excited to share your journey with them when you return. Taking small measures to ease their concerns – even if you feel it unnecessary – can go a long way. Carrying a satellite communicator or other rescue device or giving them a call or sending photos more than you think is necessary may help them sleep easier at night,
STAY CONNECTED, EVEN WHEN YOU'RE MILES APART.
Whether it's sending a postcard, a quick text message, or video chatting, find ways to let your partner know you're thinking of them and that they're important to you. Include a handwritten note, a goofy polaroid, or other personal touch into each resupply box.
KEEP A JOURNAL AND SHARE IT WITH YOUR PARTNER.
Recording your thoughts, feelings, and experiences on the trail can be a great way to stay connected and it will give them a glimpse of your journey. There’s often not enough cell service for constant connection, but plenty of asynchronous opportunities. Founder Jessie and her partner Christopher kept in touch by recording long one-sided voice memos to each other while doing mundane things: while Christopher was running errands at home, or while Jessie was trying to chew through the miles on a particularly grueling day. Hearing the sounds of their respective background environments (cars passing by or people chatting in a coffee shop vs the sound of birds chirping or a stream flowing nearby) added an extra layer of connection while they were least connected
SHOW APPRECIATION WHEN YOU'RE BACK.
Your partner may have felt a little lonely or worried while you were away, so make sure to show them how much you appreciate their support and understanding. Plan a special trip or surprise when you return home to show them how much they mean to you. You’ll have plenty of time on trail to brainstorm (bonus, it’ll give your brain something to think about during some of the more boring miles).
Thru-hiking has certainly broken a few relationships, but it can also make yours stronger as you work through what is likely the most challenging test your relationship has taken on. With some communication and effort, you can keep things strong with your significant other.
What are some ways you keep your relationship strong during long hikes? Comment below!