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What is #OptOutside? And what does it have to do with Black Friday?

Luci #OptOutside #HappierPlace Florida

No matter if you have wondered what #OptOutside is, if you have never even heard of it, or know all about it… we strongly encourage you to participate this Black Friday – and make time for it whenever you travel.

The #OptOutside movement was started by the outdoor retail company REI in 2015. The basic meaning of #OptOutside is: Go outdoors on Black Friday instead of shopping. In case you didn’t know, Black Friday is the day after the U.S. American Thanksgiving (always the third Thursday in November). It has grown into an insanely popular and discount-sales-driven day of shopping.

What Is #OptOutside All About?

While #OptOutside is a very successful and award-winning ad campaign, we want to emphasize the altruistic aspects of the initiative that help make the world a happier place… one inspired person at a time.

Every Black Friday since 2015, REI closes all of its 150+ brick-and-mortar stores, does not process any online payments, and gives the 12,000 employees a paid day-off to spend in nature. All this on one of the biggest shopping days of the year!

From the get-go, they were joined by other companies and not-for-profit organizations that offered the same to their employees or featured free services or waived entry fees for outdoor excursions. Besides REI, many other companies, organizations and individuals promote the #OptOutside hashtag on social media when sharing photos and videos – especially on Instagram and Twitter.

Since our own goal is to help people get happier by having more fun outdoors, we wholeheartedly salute and thank REI for launching this effective initiative to get people outside.

We’d like to acknowledge what came before and was probably an inspiration: Buy Nothing Day. This social art piece, protest against consumerism, and global “holiday” also takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Buy Nothing Day was launched by Vancouver artist Ted Dave in 1992 and promoted into global awareness by AdBuster magazine.

And what has come since… By now, the social media hashtag #OptOutside gets used far beyond just that Opt-Outside day in late November. Especially on Instagram, photographers like ourselves add it to outdoor photos to connect with and encourage other photographers.

Updated 2019: This year the movement is focusing not just on opting outside instead of shopping, but puts an emphasis on cleaning up the outdoors. Happier Tip: We always bring a bag to pick up trash others left behind. 

Scott fly-fishing for what is #optoutside

Ideas for How to Opt Outside on Black Friday

The simplest thing: just walk out of your door. Walking around your neighborhood may not be the great outdoors; but you might be surprised by the beauty or inspiration you can find right outside your home just by ignoring your device and looking around.

Go for a stroll in the nearest city park… or to try something new: check out the city park that’s furthest from your place.

Before winter takes over, “get in one more” of… whatever outdoor fun you wish you had done more all summer, e.g., bike, roller blade, skateboard, hike, paddle board, run, picnic… or whatever makes you happier outside. You might have to pump up those tires again or dress a bit warmer, but you’ll be happier for having “done it” one more time!

Many organizations are holding special events to encourage you to go outside. Check out this list of US MeetUps hosting outdoor activities on Black Friday… then enter your own zip code to find a local OptOutside MeetUp or organize one yourself.

A lot of State Parks offer free admission this Friday, e.g. Delaware and Arizona. Find a park near you on the America’s State Park website.

Choose to not go shopping on Black Friday. If you live in America, you know you can shop every single day of the year. Just opt out of shopping for this one day and opt in to having some fun outdoors!

For people who are not very physically mobile: How about asking a friend or a relative to take you for a scenic drive?

Can’t leave the home at all? Then at least for a little while, sit by a window and look outside… to watch the birds, the clouds or anything else that’s moving out there.

If you need anymore convincing to participate in #OptOutside, you might want to read this: Inviting Happiness and Adventure: Yes, let’s!

Whiskey dog on trail in Lory State Park for #optoutside

Opt Outside While Traveling

Since the idea of #OptOutside has already spread beyond just Black Friday, we want to encourage travelers to include it in their vacation or business trip planning.

When we travel, we usually get to do and see a lot of great things, maybe even some outdoor places. Some travel is even specifically focused on the outdoors, like a beach vacation or a hiking trip. That’s great! But a lot of vacations or business travel aren’t scheduled to include a “nature break”.

Because spending time in nature is known to make people happier, we recommend you choose a day to consciously #OptOutside while traveling.

Being out in nature will not only de-stress and invigorate you, it will also allow you to connect deeper to your travel destination and its people and culture. Consider how the natural environment (the landscape, climate, plants and wildlife) has influenced the development of the country or region you’re exploring.

Tips for How to Opt Outside While Traveling:

First of all, check out the section Ideas for How to Opt Outside on Black Friday. Quite a few opt-outside ideas apply to travel days as well as Black Friday.

Did you get a travel guide book? Look for recommended parks and natural areas.

Seek out travel blogs and outdoor blogs for articles about nature excursions at your destination. You might be amazed at the current and detailed tips and photos you will find.

A great place to do find specific inspiration for travel and outdoor excursions is Pinterest. Here are just a few of the Pinterest Outdoor Boards we curate: Outdoors in the USA, Outdoors in Canada, Outdoors in Europe, and National Parks (Monuments, Forests and Grasslands).

On a road trip? Take a scenic route (e.g., one of the official scenic byways in the USA) – and keep an eye out for scenic overlooks and parkinglots for trails to take a road trip hiking break.

Last but not least: ask a local! Ask for the most famous, the prettiest, the least visited, and the must-see natural areas, parks, nature sights… And then ask the concierge, driver, waiter, shopkeeper: so where do YOU and your family go when you make time for outdoor fun?

This goes directly to our fellow travel bloggers: with all the work you put towards exploring sights for your article and all the photos you take, we hope you also make time to take a break and just relax and re-energize in nature. We know it’s a challenge (for us, too) to *just be* in nature, and not take pictures or think about how to describe it later. But it feels so good to just stop, look, relax, and appreciate. Thank you for what you do; you deserve a true break from your travel-work and work-travel, too!

woman on a bench looking at sea, Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor Park, Florida, Judith

#OptOutside and #HappierPlace

Following the example of REI, everyone at Happier Place gets #OptOutside Friday off to have fun outside instead of buying, selling or staring at our devices. So while our website will be active, no human will process any purchases or respond to comments or messages until the next day (aka So-Much-To-Do Saturday or #ShopSmall Small Business Saturday).

UPDATED 11/18/2019: Like everyone else working online, we have a special sale on yet another themed day: Cyber Monday. We offer a special coupon code for Cyber Monday (valid only on 12/2/2019) which will save you 19% on your entire order: CYBER19. Of course, we also donate 5% of sales (not just of profit!) to the Environmental Defense Fund. So there are incentives to purchase from Happier Place – on any day but the Friday after Thanksgiving.


Revisit this post later and spread the word by saving one of these images to Pinterest.

Woman relax on Key West. What is #OptOutside. How to do it. How it connects to Black Friday. How it can make travel better at any time.
Optoutside, What is it, how does it connect to Black Friday, man flyfishing, boat, skinny water, Florida, Gulf Coast, Scott, HappierPlace

Let’s Inspire Each Other!

We would love to see your photos of the fun you have in nature. If you use our hashtag #HappierPlace, we might even feature your photo on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
You don’t share photos online? Then TELL us about how you opted outside in the comment section below.

Let’s keep inspiring each other and make the world a happier place. 

What is Opt Outside. How to do it. How it connects to Black Friday. How it can make travel better at any time.  #OptOutside #HappierPlace #traveltips #outdoors #KeyWest #Florida #USA #BlackFriday

34 thoughts on “What is #OptOutside? And what does it have to do with Black Friday?

  1. I love this campaign! I think some companies must be getting wind of it because a lot of them are now saving the biggest sales for Cyber Monday instead ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love the #optoutside movement. Black Friday is super overrated in my opinion.

    1. Agreed! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This is such a great campaign. thanks for introducing this to us.. i love the fact of enjoying outdoors instead of shopping.. i have successfully not shopped this year.

  4. I totally love this Idea, though i went shopping earlierโ€™ but my purchase are only product empties that Iโ€™d finishedโ€™ .. I just took advantage of the sale and only got 3 items. I feel proud of myself for not buying anything that is not necessary.

  5. I really love this that rei is doing. The Black Friday Maddness has gotten out of hand. This year itโ€™s before thanksgiving day I saw sales!

  6. We thankfully don’t have the Black Friday madness in India yet. It is great to note that there are organisations that are trying to do something positive on this massive sale day. Great concept.

    1. Ohhh, you just wait… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just heard it’s already made it’s way to England and other countries that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. But hopefully it’s never anywhere as mad as it is here in the USA.

  7. I’m all for not shopping on Black Friday and going outside instead. What a wonderful initiative to share.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Rose. Nice to read you appreciate us sharing the initiative.

  8. That is so much better than shopping indeed on a Black Friday. That will make a different impression about it. I hope many people will participate on this.

    1. Glad you think so, too!

  9. Never heard of this but such a great concept! Going outside instead of shopping – Definitely a great idea!

    1. Love introducing someone to new (good) ideas. And yeah, the general concept is pretty universal and can be applied any day.

  10. This is such a nice idea but honestly, I don’t have any problem in making time with my family because we always make sure that we spend time to each other everyday.

    1. That’s so great you spend a lot of time together as a family. Hopefully, you also spend some of that time outdoors ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I honestly hadn’t heard of this until now! This is really awesome though I love it! Great post and thanks for sharing.

    Really though, I’m glad you shared. I hadn’t heard of REI either, but they’ve got some good stuff. What they decided to do really fits their overall brand image and message too, so it was a great call for them.

    Crazy too though on one of the busiest days they did that.
    However Im sure itll pay off

    Nicholas Alexander Adams
    https://true-arizona.org

    1. So cool to draw your attention to something good you didn’t know about. Yeah, REI is quite cool and their #OptOutside campaign is definitely something great for people – but it also doesn’t hurt their sales, I suspect. After all, it’s an award-winning ad campaign and probably brings them a lot of sales throughout the year and especially on the days around the one day they’re closed. But again, we admire the message they’re sending and the fact that they’re consistent and actually close all the stores and website and give all employees the day off. This isn’t pretending, this is real inspiration.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Nicholas.
      xx Luci

  12. I really respect REI and how they run their company. I havenโ€™t heard of #optoutside before. Itโ€™s such a great idea!

    1. Glad we could introduce you to the concept of #OptOutside. REI is very inspiring in so many ways.

  13. This sounds like a nice and fun ideas to do with my husband. Spending time like walking around in that city is something that we no longer do together and I think this is the best time for us to do it again.

    1. Oh, I very much hope that you and your husband will go walking around together again more. We consciously started a few years ago to spend more times outdoors together (that’s where the whole idea of launching this website came from) – and not only are we much happier today, we also don’t need to remind ourselves much to go outside together. It’s become part of life again.

  14. What a great concept. I don’t need much persuasion when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. We always make time as a family to get outside and explore. Certainly beats spending a fortune on Black Friday! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. That’s so wonderful that you and your family make a lot of time to get outside and explore. I’m so grateful that my family did that when I was a kid. They did the groundwork for me to live a happier, healthier life. Sounds like you’re doing the same!
      xx Luci

  15. Love this! I have never been a fan of Black Friday. It always seemed so insane to me. Let’s give thanks one day and then beat each other up to get products the next day. Love the optout idea!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ashley! I’ve never gotten excited about Black Friday myself. But I never thought of the contrast between Thanksgiving and Black Friday the way you describe it so perfectly either! ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. lovely ideas to recharge and feel different and happier! totally worth Black Friday deals

    1. Glad you like the idea. Definitely makes me happier than shopping a good deal ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Looks so pretty nice adventure things to do and a happy together with your fur baby.

    1. Thanks. Always happier when Whiskey Dog is around.

  18. I totally love this idea, but I never heard of it. Going outdoors on Black Friday instead of shopping is exactly what this world needs. Plus… with all the online shopping going on and Cyber Mondays, we literally have no excuse!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jeannette! Thrilled to have reached someone that didn’t know about this yet and likes it as much as I do. I also think that with us being able to shop every single day, it’s not much of a “sacrifice” to not shop on one of those days – and it’s really beautiful to consciously spend some time outdoors on that day. Hope you get a chance to #OptOutside!
      xx Luci

  19. This is such a great campaign! I love the meaning behind it

    1. That’s great! Thank you for your comment, Adriana!

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