NO MORE EXCUSES: BREAKING DOWN THE TOP BARRIERS TO THE OUTDOORS
In our annual survey we asked you what the top barriers are that prevent you from getting outside. Time, money, not knowing where to go? We all have our excuses.
Maybe you have a new job and you’re overworked. Maybe you have a 2-year-old. Maybe you’re new to the outdoors and you lack the skills or gear you think you need. For most of us, it’s easy for life to get in the way and put outdoor time on the backburner, when really getting some fresh air is the best thing we could do for our body and mind to decompress. An afternoon hike, a morning of skiing, or even something as simple as finding a quiet place to watch the sunset can have astounding effects, leaving you feeling healthier, happier, and more grounded.
In partnership with REI, I’ve put together this blog post to help you squash whatever obstacles may be preventing you from getting outside. I share some of the top excuses that I hear over and over again and actionable tips for overcoming those barriers.
I don’t know where to go
Not knowing where to go is one of the most common excuses for not getting outside. Luckily there are a ton of resources to help you find somewhere cool to go that’s not too far from home. Here are some of our favorite tools, apps, and methods for finding local trails:
- AllTrails – install the app on your phone, turn on the location finder, and the map will show you all of the trails within a certain radius of your home. It’s my go-to app when I’m in a new area and I don’t know where to go
- TrailLink – this trail-finder maintained by the Rails To Trails Conservancy is especially helpful for those who live in cities. The Rails to Trails mission is to make communities more walkable by converting old, unused railroad routes into multi-use trails.
- Google “Hiking Trails near xx”, “Best places to camp near xx,” or “xx Outdoor Blog,” where xx is your city.
- Call your local Chamber of Commerce or visit your local tourism board website
- Buy a local hiking book
Maybe you’ve exhausted your options, and there really isn’t a lot where you live. Skip the cities on your next vacation, and plan a trip centered around a National Park or your favorite outdoor activity. You’ll find all kinds of outdoor itineraries and trail guides on this site to help you, including itineraries for Yellowstone, Utah’s Mighty 5, Florida, and more.
Finally, remember that not every outdoor adventure needs to be Insta-drool-worthy to have value. The point of getting outdoors is to take some time for yourself, get some exercise, and hit the reset button.
My friends aren’t outdoorsy
If you don’t have outdoorsy friends, you have a couple of options. First, you can be the leader. Take charge, and plan a fun hike followed by lunch, drinks, or another fun get together to look forward to.
Option two would be to hike alone. The idea of solo hiking can be scary at first, but I assure you it’s a liberating and rewarding experience to show yourself that you don’t have to rely on anybody else. If you are considering hiking by yourself, check out my blog post full of solo hiking tips to help you get over your fears and ensure you are prepared.
Finally, you can make some new friends. Look for local hiking groups in your area that you can join. Some options include:
- Hiking groups on Meetup.com
- Many organizations, like the Sierra Club, have local chapters where you can connect with other local outdoor enthusiasts
- Search for local hiking groups on Facebook
Looking for a crew of outdoor women to adventure with? Here is a list of 11 ways to connect.
A solo trip in Southern Utah
The gear is too expensive
When you head outdoors for a weekend trip, it’s important to be prepared, both for safety and comfort. At the same time the cost of gear can add up, and it can be challenging to figure out exactly what you’ll need. The great thing about hiking is you really don’t need that much gear to get started. Dress for the weather, and a comfortable pair of tennis shoes, a water bottle, and a backpack will get you by.
For more gear intensive activities, you can start by borrowing from friends. Some REI stores offer gear rentals which is a great option if you aren’t sure you are ready to invest. You can also check your local Univerity’s outdoor recreation program for rental gear.
For reduced prices on gear check out the REI Garage or REI’s Used Gear site. REI also holds REI-Member Exclusive Garage Sales where you can find items at a significant discount – dates vary by location so check with your local REI. Between these three options, you can find gear at 30-70% below regular prices.
If you are overwhelmed by all the choices out there and need help narrowing down what you need, our “How to Choose” gear posts are for you:
- How to Choose the Best Trekking Poles
- How to Choose the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags
- How to Choose the Best Tents for Backpacking
While the price of new gear might be tough to swallow, remember that a good tent or sleeping bag, when properly cared for, will last you many years.
I’ve used this tent & sleeping pad for the last 4 seasons
I don’t know what I’m doing
Everybody starts somewhere, and beauty of the outdoors is that there is so much to learn. Overcoming new challenges and the confidence you’ll gain as a result is one of the major benefits of exploring the outdoors. If you don’t have a lot of experience or lack the skill set you need, we’ve got 3 recommendations to help build your knowledge base:
1) Pick up a “How-To” Book
How-to books are great because you can take them on a trip and read them when you don’t have any cell phone service.
Borrowing books from the library is a great option too, especially if you are a minimalist and don’t want to collect clutter. Not sure it’s the right activity for you? You don’t have to commit…to the book OR the activity.
2) Take a Class or Browse REI’s Online Expert Advice
A live class is a great way to pick up a new skill and to meet others as well. REI offers a variety of classes that span from trail navigation, backpacking basics, and wilderness first aid to bike maintenance. The best part – many are free!
REI also has a great FREE online library of expert videos over on their YouTube channel.
3) Check out Bearfoot Theory’s Outdoor 101 blog section
Trust us, we’ve been there! When I started this blog, I was an outdoor beginner too. That’s why I’ve put together a library of “How-Tos” on Bearfoot Theory, to help you get up to speed and learn the basics quickly. Here are our favorite must-reads:
- How to Plan a Backpacking Trip
- Beginner Ski Tips for Adults
- Stand-Up Paddleboard Tips for Your First Time
- Hiking 101
Check out our Outdoor 101 Section
I’m afraid of encountering wildlife and I HATE bugs
Who doesn’t hate bugs. And when I was in Canada this summer, I suffered from serious “bear-anoia.” Those things don’t keep me from getting outside, though. Instead, I’ve educated myself to understand the wildlife I might encounter and what to do in the unlikely case that it happens.
For bugs, you can bathe yourself in DEET. In some places, like Alaska, DEET is your best option. However, it’s not great for your skin and you certainly don’t want to be using it all of the time or on your face. Here are a few natural ways you can protect yourself.
Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants is the easiest way to keep the bugs off your skin. Leggings are my pants of choice, but some bugs can bite/sting right through. For cooler weather, REI’s Activator Hiking Pants are sturdy yet breathable and stretchy for moving and grooving outdoors.
These Columbia Long-Sleeve Shirts are lightweight, moisture-wicking and have a UPF 40 rating. The sleeves also roll up for less-buggy times.
For those relentlessly buggy locations, a head net saves you from bug bites on your face and neck as well as continual swatting. Buff’s Insect Shield line can also helps protect your neck region from mosquitos, ticks, ants and more.
There are also some effective non-DEET bug repellants available. Here are three I recommend:
- Thermacell Backpacker Mosquito Repeller
- Natrapel 8-hour Insect Repellent
- Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion
I don’t have enough time
In my recent annual survey, this was the #1 excuse people have that prevents them from getting outside.
I know life is busy, but again, it comes back to the benefits of getting outside as well as making time for your passions and interests. Sometimes you just have to choose a hike over cleaning the house or cooking an elaborate dinner.Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. ― Jack Kerouac Click To Tweet
Set a goal to take a walk every evening after work to enjoy the sunset, even if it’s just around the neighborhood. Bike to work once a week. It’s all about setting your priorities and making time for the things in your life that make you feel good.
And remember, going outside doesn’t have to be an all-day or weekend affair. It can be a morning hike with a friend instead of an indulgent Sunday brunch or a quick after-work stroll in the park while you wait for traffic to die down. Even those activities have their benefits, and you can do these with an hour of free time during the week.
Check out our list of jobs to get you outdoors more often.
I’m afraid I’ll get lost
Take steps to make sure you’re prepared when you go out hiking. Save a trail map and trail guide with step by step directions to your phone for offline reading. Paper maps are even better. Many of our hiking guides are available as PDF downloads that you can print at home to take with you on the trail. Before heading out on the trail, stop in at the BLM office, Visitor’s Center, or Wildnerness Office to ask questions and speak with rangers. If you’re still uncomfortable, stick to clearly marked, populated trails so you can easily find your way or ask someone if you start to feel lost.
For big hikes, I always carry either the Spot Gen3 or Garmin InReach Explorer to stay connected, especially if I’m hiking solo. The SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger fits in the palm of your hand and allows you to send simple signals to your family and friends indicating your whereabouts and in the case of an emergency, you can send for help with the press of a button. The Garmin InReach Explorer is a bigger investment but it comes with a lot of additional features (this is the device I currently travel with) like navigation tools and the ability to send AND receive custom text messages.
I’m too tired
When you’re overworked and overcommitted, it’s hard to muster up the energy to go on a hike or a bike ride. However, a little vitamin D is known to elevate your mood and lower your blood pressure, while the endorphins released while exercising can actually help you relax and sleep better at night. Depriving your body of these things day in and day out will only leave you feeling more lethargic. If you really can’t convince yourself to put in the effort after work, you can always find a peaceful place to string a hammock and read a book.
I have kids…it’s not the same anymore
I’m always inspired when I see parents with their young kids in the outdoors. I’m not a mom myself, but I can imagine the challenges that come with trying to adventure with your kids. If this excuse sounds like you, start with our blog post written by an adventurous mom chocked full of helpful tips for hiking with your kids.
If you’re eager to experiment with backpacking, get your child fitted at REI for a kid’s pack and take them along for a fun night out. It doesn’t need to be Yosemite to “WOW” young minds.
To connect with other outdoor parents, check out the website Hike It Baby which is dedicated to fostering and raising a new generation that loves the outdoors. You can search by zipcode to find organized hikes in your region that are family friendly.
For skiing parents, I love this new series by Ski Utah that features my friend Brooke and her three year old son Huck and her real-life experience teaching Huck how to ski.
Finally, if you need more inspiration, read the book “Last Child in the Woods.” It will have you convinced to get outside for your child’s sake.
We hope this blog post helps you conquer your excuses for not getting outside. We’d love to hear your tips for overcoming outdoor barriers. Share your stories and advice in the comments below.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase, I receive a tiny bit of compensation at no added cost to you. I only recommend products that I have tried out and truly love, and any purchases you make help keep this blog going. Thanks for all of your support, and if you ever have any questions about any of the products featured on my site, please email me. Thanks! Kristen