©istockphoto/pixdeluxeIt’s an incred­i­bly roman­tic thought: just you and your beloved, deep in the woods, with­out a care in the world. And sure, back­pack­ing with your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er can be a won­der­ful bond­ing experience—but it can also be very challenging.

Even if you’re used to hang­ing out togeth­er 24/7, you’re bound to see a whole new side of your part­ner while out on the trail. Here are some ways to prepare.

Set Expec­ta­tions
If it’s your first back­pack­ing adven­ture togeth­er, it’s impor­tant to sit down well ahead of the trip and estab­lish real­is­tic expec­ta­tions. Talk about your respec­tive back­pack­ing styles—are you a total min­i­mal­ist while he likes to pack every­thing but the kitchen sink? Do you like to pow­er hike to get from point A to point B while she prefers to stop and take plen­ty of pho­tos along the way? Know­ing what you’re get­ting into well help pre­vent sur­pris­es down the road. As is usu­al­ly the case in rela­tion­ships, com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key.

Plan Like a Pro
It’s easy to get along when you’re hap­py, well-fed, and well-rested—it’s not until the unex­pect­ed aris­es that the walls begin to crum­ble. You can’t con­trol some things (like the weath­er), but there is a lot that you can man­age with prop­er plan­ning (like hav­ing a water­proof tent and wear­ing water­proof hik­ing boots). Make a list and check it twice, pack plen­ty of food, and bring sup­plies that will help you in an emer­gency, like a first aid kit and repair tools.

Indulge in Some Luxuries
A back­pack­ing trip is typ­i­cal­ly pret­ty bare bones, but you can keep the romance alive after a par­tic­u­lar­ly gru­el­ing day by sur­pris­ing your oth­er half with a few small lux­u­ries. Go ahead and pack that freeze-dried choco­late cake, the flask filled with your loved one’s favorite whiskey, or an extra pair of dry socks to boost his or her morale when times get tough.

Divide and Conquer
Ten­sions can arise when one part­ner feels like the oth­er isn’t pulling their weight. If both peo­ple play to their strengths, it can make back­pack­ing life a lot more pleas­ant. Deter­mine who will take care of what around camp: maybe you head to gath­er fire­wood and start a fire while your part­ner takes care of set­ting up the tent and sleep­ing bags. The work will get done twice as fast, giv­ing you more time to enjoy your time together.

Savor Solo Time
On a longer trip, it’s only nat­ur­al that you’ll even­tu­al­ly start rub­bing each oth­er the long way. Often times, this has noth­ing to do with you or your partner—you sim­ply have no one else to vent to, so you acci­den­tal­ly take your frus­tra­tions out on your loved one. If you notice this is start­ing to hap­pen, try to spend a bit of time apart. Stay up late watch­ing the stars on your own, or get up ear­ly to have some alone time before your day kicks off. A lit­tle solo time goes a long way in pre­serv­ing your sanity.

Bring Bud­dies
It’s not as inti­mate or roman­tic, but bring­ing a few friends along might just be the key to sur­viv­ing a back­pack­ing trip with your part­ner. You’ll still get to share adven­tures with your oth­er half and snug­gle up togeth­er in your sleep­ing bags, but you’ll also get healthy dos­es of hang­ing out with oth­er people—which means you won’t get sick of each other.

©istockphoto/microgenTeach­ing a boyfriend, girl­friend, hus­band or wife to ski (par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re an expert) can be chal­leng­ing and can require a lot of patience.

The first thing you should do if you’re gonna dive head­first into teach­ing your part­ner is to ask your­self if you believe you have the abil­i­ty and the lev­el-head to be a teacher on the slopes. If the answer is “yes”, then here are some oth­er tips to ensure that the learn­ing expe­ri­ence is pos­i­tive and lov­ing for both of you.

Be Encour­ag­ing Always
There are going to be times when you get frus­trat­ed with your part­ner. That’s ok. What’s not ok is say­ing neg­a­tive or belit­tling things like, “Why aren’t you get­ting this?” or “You’re being a baby. Just do it.” 

Keep it pos­i­tive and hon­est. Give them real feed­back that is free of emo­tion such as:

“That was a real­ly flu­id turn.”

“Try to keep your knees bent a bit more and loosen up your body.”

“Make sure to look down­hill instead of just at your skis.” 

“Great effort today. You’re catch­ing on.” 

Don’t Com­pare Their Learn­ing Expe­ri­ence to Yours
Chances are, you learned to ski when you were young or in your teens. Some­thing to under­stand before teach­ing an adult is that grown-ups often learn very dif­fer­ent­ly than chil­dren and teenagers.

For chil­dren and teens, the ele­ment of fun typ­i­cal­ly trumps any fear they might have.

How­ev­er, for adults, fun is often sec­ondary to the fear and self-con­scious­ness that they will expe­ri­ence when learn­ing this new (and very phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing) sport.

As such, don’t say things like:

“This was so easy for me when I learned. I don’t under­stand why you’re not pick­ing it up.” 

In fact, don’t tell them that any­thing is “easy” or that they will “catch on quick­ly” because you have no idea what their learn­ing curve will be. They may catch on and start rip­ping groomers the first few days, while pow­der ski­ing or trees might throw them for a loop.

Let them learn at their own pace and don’t com­pare, encourage.

Take Time-Outs
If you’re both get­ting frus­trat­ed, take a break. Imme­di­ate­ly. Go eat. Go drink. Even call it a day if need be. Ski­ing is sup­posed to be fun and is meant to bring you clos­er togeth­er. If the oppo­site is occur­ring, press pause.

Buy Them a Lesson
Once they’ve got­ten to the point where they need more direct and pro­fes­sion­al instruc­tion, maybe con­sid­er buy­ing them a les­son. Ski instruc­tors can often make a mediocre ski­er a damn good ski­er in one or two lessons sim­ply by com­ment­ing on form and by being a neu­tral observer.

Be able to rec­og­nize when it’s time to let the true experts take over and your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er will thank you. Not to men­tion, the entire goal is for your part­ner to be able to ski WITH you, so a les­son or two is one step clos­er to that goal.