10 Reasons to #OptOutside on Black Friday

It’s almost that time of year again—when it is socially acceptable to consume mass amounts of stuffing, eat turkey left overs for six days straight, and lounge on the couch watching football all day. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, an almost equally enjoyable event is also on the horizon: #OptOutside Friday.

What started a campaign by outdoor retailer REI to promote exploring local hiking trails rather than your local mall, has quickly turned into a new American tradition. For the third year in a row, REI is giving their employees the day after Thanksgiving off, a surprise and shock to many on one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Instead of being tethered to a cash register, their employees will be awarded the opportunity to enjoy the day off in the great outdoors, a trend that is quickly catching on.

#OptOutside is more than just a hashtag. It’s a movement. Will you take part in the growing trend? Here are 10 reasons to join me and thousands across in country in forgoing shopping and hitting the trails instead.

1. Paid Holiday

We are all busy, many of us need to dedicate our weekends to running errands. With just one extra day we could actually get out and do the things we enjoy doing. That’s where #OptOutside comes in. For some businesses, the day after Thanksgiving is a paid holiday. This is your free pass to explore a new trail without having to compromise your weekend or take a day of PTO.

2. Save Money

The average Black Friday shopper spent $403 in 2016. Instead of burning a gaping hole in your wallet, opt for something that is nearly free of charge: take a hike. Your bank account and significant other surely won’t mind the savings.

3. It’s Child Friendly

Just as you have the day off from work, your children will have the day off from school too. Instead of subjecting them to the torture of shopping and hearing them complain all day, #OptOutside and partake in an activity the whole family can enjoy. Tip: seek out trails that are short in length and have something of interest (a marker at the summit, waterfall, unique rock formation, etc.).

4. Free Admission

Entrance into state parks can set you back up to $10-$15. On Black Friday, this cost may be eliminated depending on where you live. Several states are offering free admission to their state parks on Black Friday. Some states require picking up a pass at your local REI store prior to hiking so be sure to secure this in advance.

5. Avoid Crowds

Over 74 million people shopped on Black Friday in 2015. With such a large number of consumers flocking to retailers, it’s no wonder this day has turned violent in the past. In one instance, crowds were so unruly and aggressive on Black Friday in 2008, a temporary Wal-Mart worker and two shoppers were trampled to death in Valley Stream, NY. While this is an extreme case, you won’t have to worry about crowds or being trampled by humans in the wild.

6. Take a Stand

The people who work on Black Friday are often overlooked. We are so concerned with which flat screen TV we want to purchase at a discounted price we neglect to think about the people ringing up this TV. Many people have the luxury of having Black Friday off. However, there are also plenty of people who are subjected to long hours, high-stress situations, and maintaining a cheerful demeanor. Take a stand for outdoor adventure instead of consumption.

7. Seek Solace

Our days our hectic. Between dropping the kids off at school, working a full day, only to come home to make dinner for the family, it is a rarity we get to enjoy a simpler life. Nature provides you with the opportunity to do just that—escape the noise and clutter of our lives and replace it with sunshine and pure beauty.

8. There’s Always Cyber Monday

Hate to think about passing up great deals? Wait a whole three days to participate in Cyber Monday. Deals are equally as good, if not better and you can spend your weekend researching what you need rather than making an impulse purchase on what you want. With more time to think and plan your purchases, your buyer’s remorse will be less likely.

9. Make Your Pets Happy

If you participate in Black Friday, Fido must spend another day cooped up at home or taking a walk with the dog walker. Spend some quality time with your pet by opting to go outside. Tip: some trails at state parks do not allow pets. Make sure to check the rules of the trail beforehand.

10. Bond with Your Friends

When you’re in the middle of a shopping frenzy, it can be difficult to have a meaningful conversation. Your focus shifts to which camera has the lowest price and if those socks have a 2-for-1 deal. Your family or friends, in turn, are neglected. Spending time outdoors encourages conversation, helps build memories, and promotes a healthy lifestyle: all the key ingredients necessary for stronger relationships.

The choice is yours, will you #OptOutside this Friday?