6 Reasons to Choose the Great Outdoors Over the Big Stores

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When I was growing up, my mom was an avid Black Friday shopper. She carefully examined the ads, created a plan of attack, then got up at some horrific hour to go stand in line in the cold. She loved it! Since I’ve become an adult she’s tried a few times to convince me to go with her, but I’m really not interested. I am all about getting a good deal on something, but I don’t do crowds or cold and I really don’t do 2 a.m. wake-up calls!

Instead, I get my deals through online shopping. Cyber Monday has my name all over it! I can do it in my pajamas from the warmth of my own computer chair and it takes me less than an hour.

The huge upside to online shopping for Christmas is that I have plenty of time to spend with my family over the weekend of Black Friday. We love to get outside with our kids and the weather in Arizona the weekend after Thanksgiving is downright divine. We load up our car and head out in search of outdoor adventure and lots of fresh air!



  • Get Outside! 1 of 17
    6 Reasons to Choose the Great Outdoors Over the Big Stores

    Click through for our 6 fav outdoor activities to do this time of year!

  • 1. Camping! 2 of 17

    Want to get your husband interested in a little outdoor family togetherness? Mention the GEAR possibilities. All it took for my husband to get REALLY into camping was an afternoon spent at an outdoor retailer. And now we camp with a huge tent, a comfy air mattress, a tent heater and our iPad. I refer to it as "wimpy camping" and we love it.

  • Camping Gear for Kids 3 of 17
    Camp Chairs

    My boys always jump at the chance to go roll around in the dirt for 24 hours but having gear that is sized especially for them makes the whole experience that much better. Little camp chairs and mini sleeping bags are the BEST EVER when you're 3.

  • Don’t Forget the First-Aid Kit 4 of 17
    First Aid

    As it turns out, those kid-sized sleeping bags are kind of slippery and my 5-year-old managed to fall out of our truck while ensconced in one. He did this in front of two park rangers who were checking to make sure we weren't doing anything sketchy. Fortunately, the park rangers had a first-aid kid (we did not) and were able to patch up our poor, bloody little boy. Ever since then I've made sure to carve out a special spot in our car for a basic first-aid kid.

  • A GPS is Always Handy 5 of 17

    A GPS is an awfully handy tool to have in your car! We are quite possibly the most directionally challenged family ever (I once ended up in California while trying to get to Utah) and it can be really frustrating when you're trying to get somewhere specific. However, some of our best adventures have happened when we were lost. Getting lost sometimes allows you to find the most beautiful places.

  • 2. Hiking 6 of 17
    Hiking Lost Dutchman

    Hiking is our hands-down favorite family activity. It can be a short loop or an all day affair depending on what we feel up for! We're a short drive away from a bunch of really great trails so as soon as it cools down in October or November that's how we spend our weekends!

  • Baby Pack 7 of 17
    Baby Gear

    This baby pack is a bit of a beast (it takes up a ton of cargo space) BUT it's indispensable for hauling little kids up and down mountains. We got ours on Craigslist. That's a little mirror in my son's hand and you'd be surprised how long something like that can keep a 2-year-old occupied.

  • Adjust Your Timeline 8 of 17
    Hiking Wes

    When we go hiking with our kids we take rests. LOTS of rests. My 5-year-old will ask to stop and take pictures, which is code for, "I'm tired and need to sit for a minute." This means that a hike that would take my husband and me an hour ends up taking a whole afternoon. We've made our peace.

  • Disconnect. Except for… 9 of 17
    Hiking Lost Dutchman 2

    One of the reasons I really love getting into the outdoors is that my husband, who owns his own business and works from home, is forced to put away his dang phone and stop thinking about work for a bit. I appreciate the lack of cell service out in the mountains! However, we LOVE the All Trails app. It's awesome for discovering new trails for hiking, biking, off-roading or camping. Users can leave reviews and pictures, which is super useful for helping us figure out if a trail is too intense for our kids. Plus it's free!

  • 3. Outdoor Classes 10 of 17
    Kids Hike

    There's a preserve about 30 minutes from our house that hosts outdoor classes and activities for kids in fall and winter. They spend a Saturday learning about desert creatures and survival and all kinds of cool stuff. Aaron and I love it too!

  • 4. Biking 11 of 17

    The area we live used to have a lot of farms. It has mostly been taken over by residential neighborhoods now but there are still pockets where you can find all kinds of farm animals and big machinery (my boys' favorite!). We love to throw our bikes in the car and drive to one of these areas and go exploring.

  • Go Slow 12 of 17

    Sometimes it can be hard for me to accept the slow pace that my boys set but most of the time its their slowness that allows us to find the coolest stuff. We totally would have missed out on these llamas if my 3-year-old hadn't hopped off his tricycle (for the millionth time) to grab a shiny rock that caught his eye.

  • 5. Try a New Park 13 of 17

    Riding around different neighborhoods means we often stumble upon new-to-us parks. It doesn't even matter that they have the exact same equipment as the one by our house- my boys can't resist a new park!

  • 6. Take a Snow Day 14 of 17
    Snow Day

    Snow is a rather foreign substance for our boys. We just don't get much of it in the Phoenix area! Northern Arizona, however, gets plenty. A couple years ago we decided to play hooky for a day and go in search of snow.

  • Sometimes Things Don’t Go As Planned 15 of 17
    Snow Day

    We spent two hours in the car heading north to find snow. When we got there our boys played for about 30 minutes before deciding they were cold and done. Our car got stuck (twice). And then we drove two hours home. Last week our boys started begging us to do it again. Just because something doesn't quite go as planned doesn't mean your kids won't LOVE it!

  • Car Nap 16 of 17

    If you're 30 seconds into the car ride home and THIS happens then you know you've had a good day.

  • Just Enjoy It! 17 of 17
    Lost Dutchman

    Getting outdoors with our kids rarely turns out the way we expect. We end up somewhere unplanned, our car gets stuck, someone conks their head, occasionally there's barf. We've learned to just enjoy the ride!

Read more of Kayla’s writing at Freckles in April OR catch all her Babble posts by subscribing to her once-weekly email!

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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