"What can I do so that my wife/girlfriend/daughter wants to go out on Off-road Adventures with me?"
"What can I do so that my wife/girlfriend/daughter wants to go out on Off-road Adventures with me?"
In an attempt to answer the #1 question I get through social media I have organized a few thoughts:
The short answer… there is no magic formula [to get your lady outdoors]. Over the past few weeks I have been engaging in conversations with all kinds of different women. Some from within the Off-road world and some that want NOTHING to do with it. Each conversation came to a similar conclusion. Women who engage in this hobby/lifestyle are many times the driving force to get out and explore. Meaning THEY love it; THEY are the ones begging to get outside, scheming for the next getaway, longing for the next experience. Almost all of them just want to see things, do things, get away from the city… get into nature and experience life on a 4x4 trail. Maybe this has you thinking “THAT sounds nothing like my partner…” But don’t stop reading... Many of us GREW INTO this mindset.
My personal experience…in my early adult years I was a self proclaimed “city girl”. While I had an appreciation for the outdoors, LIFE kept me very close to all the major cities (Los Angeles, DC, New York) Therefore my experience in nature had become limited and my comfort zone required 4-walls, hot showers and take-out on demand 😉 I can’t imagine what the girl from 10 years ago would think of who I am today. Honestly just typing that makes me smile. If I could talk to that city girl today I would say, “honey, just wait…Life gets SO much better when you step outside”. So for the next few days I'll be addressing this topic from my perspective.
The big disclaimer is that each woman is different so in NO WAY is this guaranteed to be the winning formula to get her loving the outdoors.
I am not an expert but I know what works for me and I am happy to share my perspective on this topic
CAMPING: spending the night in the middle of nowhere can be unnerving and (for some) can take time to adjust to…but it is possible [to love being alone in the middle of nature]! It’s ok to start slow... if that means you hit up traditional, established campsites, so be it.
If it means you are JUST outside of town, no worries. Even if it means camping in the backyard, hey at least you’re camping!
I think the more you explore with her the more her love of the outdoors is allowed to grow. Start where she’s comfortable and, one day your adventures may lead you someplace where she utters those three special words “lets camp here!”. When I first started all I was doing was day trips. So mentally the commitment to the activity was minimal and therefore felt less overwhelming from a planning perspective. BUT it only took me a few short months to realize that 1 day wasn’t going to cut it for me. Too often we were forced to turn around early on a trail because we still had to drive all the way home (or back to a town/hotel.) So for me it was a natural progression. I wanted to find the end of the trail, see the sunset, have a campfire, be awed by the milky way and have my morning coffee while I watched the sunrise over the mountains…. Over time my desire for those experiences overwhelmed my “need” for creature comforts & I found myself looking for a set-up that would fit my style and needs for extended outdoor exploration.
COOKING - This one can be a challenge. My suggestion, unless she expresses that she wants this responsibility: DO NOT expect her to do the cooking.
Take this on for her especially if you are trying to win her over to this activity. No one wants to feel like they have chores on a trip they weren’t entirely comfortable with from the start. Pro Tip (aka learn from my mistakes) Get to camp early with plenty of light, set her up a nice spot by the fire, hand her one of her favorite beverages & throw together something simple. If she wants to help cook that’s a bonus … & remember meals don’t have to be complex to be yummy. My recommendation is to come prepared by pre-making your meals. While this takes some planning, it will significantly reduce your prep work at camp and, in case the trip didn’t go “as planned”, this is one less thing to stress about (or potentially argue over). Nothing takes the shine off a great day, like arguing at camp.
When it comes to easy meals, one of my go-to’s is a salad kit and a box of my favorite soup…its an easy heat and serve. If I want a little more protein I will grill steak/chicken at home, cut it up and have it ready to throw on the salad.
If you have a decent camp kitchen and really want to wow her, sign up for one of those meal prep deliveries (Sunbasket, BlueApron etc.) prior to your trip & take it with you. Note: Do yourself a favor & avoid recipes that require an oven unless you’re traveling in luxury 😉
These kits come pretty much ready to go aside from salt, pepper, & cooking oil (so don’t forget to bring them). There will be some prep time needed at camp, but the instructions are pretty straightforward and it’s fun to have something different while on a new adventure together!
Personally...I love to cook. I enjoy the planning & packing of all the goodies but that is not that case for all women. So be sensitive to that and if your lady doesn’t fancy herself a chef, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a pizza and a bottle of wine to enjoy around the campfire (just make sure the pizza is cooked, unless you have that oven we talked about 😉)
This one can be messy, pun intended. Unsurprisingly, a woman doesn’t run longingly into the woods to relieve herself. Trying to squat without pissing all over your clothes/shoes is a lot harder than standing up like the boys. Ladies: the good news is, there are “tools” to facilitate just that and I can’t say enough good things about how much easier this will make your lives. I know it sounds “risky”, but once you get the hang of it you’ll never want to be caught in the woods without it. Pro Tip: buy one and practice in the shower to make sure mistakes aren’t made on the trail. Here are a few brands to consider: shewee, freshette, gogirl, etc. Personally I use the freshette and highly recommend it.
I know this topic can be taboo, but we’re all adults here and we ALL have to eliminate waste (except me of course 😉). For the rest of you, handing a woman a shovel and a roll of TP is as unromantic as it sounds. This will undoubtably be uncomfortable (mentally) but, thankfully, over time it becomes no big deal. In fact, with the right “tools” its less appalling than using the portapotty/public restrooms (who wouldn't prefer the smell of pines to sludge?). Step one: consider your location ahead of time. When searching for camp keep a good distance between you and your fellow campers and find a location that has trees/boulders, etc to hide behind while doing the deed. No one wants to be forced to play “prairie dog” in an open plain. Step two (haha, the material just writes itself): invest in some good wipes and, if necessary, a stable platform to do your business. (There are plenty of products out there to provide privacy in the form of pop-up walls/tents, etc). Step three: plan ahead to “cover your tracks” (shovel, etc).
LET HER DRIVE/TEACH HER TO DRIVE:
If you find yourselves exploring solo or in remote locations, everyone in the vehicle should know how to drive in basic off-road conditions. This means knowing how to air-up/down, using basic equipment like 4-wheel drive, lockers, recovery gear and understanding how to navigate the trail. Those of appropriate driving age should get time behind the wheel. You never know when an emergency might occur and the “planned” driver is unable to perform his/her duties. There is a great article highlighting this point by @mercedes_lilienthal
Guys, put your ego aside and let her jump in the driver seat. Be patient and teach her all the things you love to talk about on the forums/around the campfire. A great way to see how “good” you are, is to see if you can teach someone else how to do it. At the very least, investing in your partner will provide a back-up driver in the event of an emergency as well as a better spotter for when the trail gets more challenging. The more she feels a part of the adventure, the more she may learn to love it. There is a special feeling of accomplishment when overcoming an obstacle. So buyer beware: once she gets behind the wheel, she may not want to give it up. Of course not every woman will be a full time driver of their own vehicle but I can’t stress it enough... give her the opportunity to fall in love with this off-road life. There is something truly priceless about a woman’s smile when she accomplished something perceived to be impossible.
Communication is the cornerstone of every healthy relationship. While I am not a communications expert, I can tell you that no matter how much you plan things will inevitably get off track. When things begin to fall apart on trail, it usually means someone (or both parties) has stopped communicating effectively.
So before you embark on this challenge of encouraging your partner out onto the trail with you please consider the following
* How involved in the planning is she? Maybe try including locations that are of interest to her. Does she like to hike, mountain bike or maybe she wants to visit that super touristy stop along the way? This trip exists for BOTH of you to enjoy so let her be a part of that process. Let her have some ownership in the adventure. * Manage expectations (for both of you) Does she know what to expect when it comes to the topics we discussed previously? * Camping: is there anything that can make this experience more comfortable for her? * Cooking: who is taking this on? What is the menu? * Bathroom: is there anything you can purchase to make this less icky? * Discuss a plan for getting her behind the wheel: If she’s brand new to this giving her plenty of warning could be helpful, and make sure its in a safe environment where she is’t terrified to make a mistake
* Don't make assumptions. Unfortunately, we can’t read each others minds so over communication is key. In tough situations, make sure everyone understands what you’re thinking.
The worst thing to do when you’re frustrated is “shut down” or shift into passive aggressive mode. A bad situation is never made better by a poor attitude. Remember this is supposed to be fun. 😉If you wanted something predictable you wouldn’t have set-off into the unknown. THIS is the adventure. Some of our fondest memories are of overcoming challenges together. It isn’t always pretty, but with patience, planning & communication you may just find an activity you love to do…together.
•••••• 🍻Cheers! ••••••