Welcome to GET OUT THERE, a brand-spankin’-new miniseries in which you and I (and all your friends) are gonna explore the heck out of the places we live. Over the next two months, we’re gonna find new places to eat, drink, be merry, escape, and breathe fresh air.
I spent the last few years living abroad and teaching english in South Korea, and I traveled around southeast Asia for half a year and blogging about it at LEZ BACKPACK. I made seeing South Korea a priority, seeing every nook and cranny and trying to explore every inch. I’ve done some pretty great things — from sleeping on the Great Wall to running a half marathon through the DMZ. I’ve got a passion for adventure that just won’t quit.
But y’all, don’t let this intro paragraph fool you. I’ve got a complicated relationship with travel. I have a lot of fear when it comes to settling down, I always have to be on the move, and I’m enticed by the idea of creating a new self anytime I’d like. (You can read even more about these feelings in the column that I write for Wanderful Travel Network!) But I recently returned to the United States. I broke up with my girlfriend of four years and landed back in Austin, a city I haven’t lived in since my undergrad career ended a few years ago, and I still want go on adventures. I still wanna explore. And I still can, right here, in my hometown!
Local travel should be a bigger deal. These are our communities, after all, and the local businesses, artists, and creatives thrive with our support. Plus, the more we see and do in the places we live, the more at home we feel and the more immersed we become in our local scene. You don’t have to travel internationally to find adventure! Whether you live in a big city or a small town, there’s bound to be stuff you just haven’t seen, done, tried, eaten, purchased, etc. Why not do it all now, with me at your side?
How This Whole Thing Works
Over the next twelve weeks, I’ll present you with ten challenges, from eating local cuisine to meeting up with another adventurer you’ve met on social media. Every two weeks, I’ll recap my own adventures right here (with bonus videos!) and share posts from folks who are also participating, which we’ll talk about in a second. I hope that y’all will come back here every other week to talk about your own adventures, what you’ve seen, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve enjoyed the most from taking on these challenges!
By the time we’re done, you’ll have a better grasp on everything your area is offering you – and you’ll hopefully feel a little more at home there, too.
How to Participate
- GET OUT THERE. Go see your city! Do the thing! Feel free to adventure solo, form a rag-tag group of adventurers, or even host meet-ups around the challenges and get ’em done in a group! However you wanna see your homespace is up to you. People living in extremely rural places might want to cast an even wider net and include neighboring cities and towns. So many options!
- Post pictures and updates from your adventures on Instagram with the hashtag #GotOutThere and tag @autostraddle and @lezbackpack. Users who share their stories on social with us could be featured in posts and every one of y’all will earn bragging rights in the process. (You’ll notice the hashtag is a little different from the title of this very series — just roll with it! We’re excited for your posts to show how you actually went and did things, how you seriously got out there and saw new places and faces.)
- Download, print, and collect our custom passport stamps for each challenge in a DIY passport that correspond with each challenge in order to cherish your memories and remind yourself how badass you are. Carmen will be walking you through the passport-making process soon, and once you’ve got on in-hand you’ll be on your way to making a tiny local adventure souvenir!
That’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
I’m doing the challenges in the order listed below, but you can do them in whatever order you want. Feel free to follow my lead so that you can get tips and inspiration every two weeks, or plot out your own course like the brave soul you are and go for it on your own terms. There’s also a Choose Your Own Adventure stamp for those of y’all who wanna think up a different way to see the sights in town!
- 10/22 – 11/5: Visit a Historic Site, Explore Local Nature
- 11/5 – 11/19: Take Local Transit, Try Local Cuisine
- 11/19 – 12/3: Connect and Explore with Someone Else on Social Media Using Our Hashtag, Go To a Sporting Event
- 12/3 – 12/17: Find a Queer Space, Visit Local Coffee Shops (and pick a fave!)
- 12/17 – 12/31: Go To a Museum, Attend a Free Event
- CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN ADVENTURE: Go way off the beaten path and take on a challenge I haven’t even thought of – find a vegan joint, check out all the ice cream shops in town, shop at local thrift stores. Whatever you dream up!>
Resources for This Week’s Challenges
- Autostraddle’s Queer Girl City Guides
- Databases of Historic Sites: USA Historic Landmarks by State / USA National Landmarks by State
- Databases of Parks: USA National Parks by State / USA State Parks by State / Canadian Parks by Province / Canadian Provincial Parks by Province / Australian National Parks by State
- Weirdo Stuff: Weird U.S. by State / HISTORIC PLACES AND UNUSUAL ATTRACTIONS IN CANADA / Australian Wondrous and Curious Places
- Roadside America
I’m so excited to meet all of you on social media and get adventuring! We’re gonna have a lot of fun together, and I can’t wait to get an inside glimpse of Austin and all the cities and towns you’re gonna explore, too.
Before we depart, let’s get to know each other! Which challenges are you most excited for? Is there somewhere you’ve wanted to go, and now you know you will? How many friends are you gonna drag into this with you? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!
Welcome back to Austin! If you want free events you should totally join the Alamo Drafthouse Victory club. My gf and I got to see a free advanced screening of Freeheld and cried, but at least we got to cry for free.
I LOVE the Alamo Drafthouse chain (first Alamo theaters I visited were in Austin)! Now I go every now and again to Ashburn, VA branch (live in the Wash, DC area). :)
Woah, jealous! I’m a victory club member but definitely didn’t get invited to the Freeheld screening. I’m still anxiously awaiting it’s Alamo Drafthouse debut.
I’m saving all my tears for that movie! I love the Alamo, so I’ll definitely look into this!
This is so exciting! I just moved back to the states and am back to living with my parents so I’m really looking forward to exploring my own backyard again.
That’s one of the best things about returning to the place where you’re from – you can always find new things to do! :) Have you gotten out there yet?
Yay Austin! I’d love to explore more. I’m from here but my girlfriend just moved here in January and knows so many more cool places than I do!
Hey all your gay woman out there
You’re an Austinite, too!? That’s awesome, I feel like there are so many of us. We should definitely do some local exploring together, don’t you think?
This is perfect! A good excuse for fall adventures
100% agree. The weather is going to be awesome.
I just moved to a new city after a brutal break-up, this is perfect timing!
I feel you. I think it’s a great and healthy distraction to heart break. :)
On the off-chance that there is someone else reading this from Johor Bahru: want to team up?
Fun stuff! I’m in Dublin and it’s got the right weather for exploration right now: crisp autumn days with a little sun. Things currently on my list: visit the mummies of St Michan’s and find the house with the dragon gate, Harlech House.
This is random, but I’m actually about to arrive in Dublin next week! I’d love to team up for one or two of these if you’d be into it :)
Sure thing! If you have an account here send me a message :) Or send me a link to your FB or something.
Had to make an account to say, I have been to stay at the dragon gate house! It’s actually the family home of a friend of mine. Just as amazing inside as the gate would have you believe. I got such a crazy excited feeling when I clicked the link and realized it was the same gate!
That’s really exciting that you’ve been there! It looks like a place thoroughly full of personality. I hope they don’t find it too odd that random strangers decide to visit and gawk at their gates.
That sounds so cool. I’ve never been to Dublin! Never knew there were mummies there, spooky.
Anyone between Providence, RI & Boston, MA ~ Feel free to connect with me here or via Instagram @ __hurricanekatrina! Adventuring is my THANG, & it’s always fun meeting fellow autostraddlers! Cheers!
Have you found some peeps? I’m in TX but I’d love to connect with you on social! I think Instagram is a good place to meet people and I wanna see how you’re attacking this challenge!!
Hi! I know this post is a few weeks old but I live in Pawtucket, RI and would love an adventure buddy!
It’s gearing up for a rainy winter in Thessaloniki (Greece) so this is a great boost to leave the house!
Anyone in Orlando want to ride the sun rail together?!? Haha I don’t know anyone who’s been on that thing. Ahh, ~~local transportation.
Haha, oh man! Austin has this new thing called the metro rail.. I’m going to attempt to use it!
Fun idea! I will be following along. I live in the country so will be modifying some of these for my upstate ny adventures.
How will you be modifying it? I’m so curious??
Excellent timing! My partner and I were just about to start exploring various bits of Singapore this weekend in the name of Exercise, now that an office job has me tied to a desk far more hours than is natural during the week.
Howlah are you going to Exercise with all this JEREBU
Our exercise is not v hardcore la like walking in parks kinda thing. Our plan was to start in the northeast because the haze is less awful there (I live in the west and work in the south, so am constantly drowned in the stuff) but today’s PSI is over 200 everywhere… gdi.
Do it! I loved Singapore. What work brings you there?
Being Singaporean, mostly
This sounds really cool! I might see if my partner wants to do this with me. We’re also in Austin, so it will be cool to see what awesome places there are to explore that we might not know about.
So many Austin peeps on this thread! I’d also love to see where you guys end up exploring. Tag me on IG when you do!
Those Challenge badges are SO CUTE and I feel like the Pokemon Master of tiny adventures because I want to catch ’em all!
Yes! Whoever did the badges: great job
Haha, YES. Nothing like lil badges to get you motivated about exploration.
Yayyyy this is my shit!!
I am so excited about this! My friends and I are starting up a Central Illinois group.
Hey, I’m in central IL! I’d love to meet up!
i can’t wait to do these challenges! we used to do something called Adventure Saturday (where we went on a new adventure every saturday, obvs) but fell out of practice sometime around spring. this will be such a fun way to get back into it, AND GET PASSPORT STAMPS.
This is super hella cool omg
This is so cool! A good excuse to push myself to finally go to this nature preserve by the airport I’ve been meaning to check out.
So looking forward to participating in this challenge, any excuse for adventure is good for me!!! I’ve recently moved to a new town I had never been to before in Alberta,Canada. Being the nature and history lover I am, I’m most looking forward to exploring the mountains,lakes and rivers this area has to offer as well as hitting up a historical site. I already have one in mind and luckily the next 5 days off of work!!! Can’t wait to check out the hashtag and see what everyone else is getting up to in their hometowns!!!
I just moved away from Alberta! Let me know if you need suggestions (I will suggest the Gopher Museum in Torrington if you’re anywhere nearby and like uh, cheesy things)
Where have you been exploring?? I’d love to see your take on these challenges, especially in a place as beautiful as Alberta.
If anyone is in Indianapolis, hit up our Indystraddlers group!!!
Yes yes yes! And this is even better because its finally starting to become SUNNY here! If anyone here is in and around Wellington New Zealand hit me up so we can adventure together :)
Aw, yes! Meeting other people through this challenge is 100% a goal of mine too. Even though I’m in Austin, connect with me through social! I love making friends on the interwebs :)
Woo yes! I’ve done the first two challenges now and got my excellent passport all ready! Gonna post to my instagram, @tanya_kae soon. Looking forward to seeing your posts!!
anyone in North Yorkshire UK? I’d love to explore York with another straddler :) definitely going to do this with or without company though, thanks for the great ideas! maybe I’ll have to finally get Instagram…
I’m really excited for this! I live in Chicago so do most of this already, but am hoping to queer it up with a buddy! Feel free to hit me up if you are interested in exploring the city with a Chitown girl.
MINNEAPOLIS!!!! Where you at? I moved back a year and a half ago, and still feel like a stranger. This is perfect!
so many cute date ideas can come out of this!!! I’m most excited to find my favorite local brew because there are at least 10 different privately owned coffee shops within a 1 mile radius of my home and I still haven’t been able to try them all. can’t wait!
I want to find all the breweries and coffee shops! Where are you from?? :)
I have been meaning to explore Winnipeg more. Anyone else?