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!