The Author Of ‘The Live Life Now List’ Shares Hacks And Secrets For Exploring Your City

As great as overseas adventures and far flung vacations might be, the truth is you don’t have to go far for a memorable experience. In fact, you don’t even have to go beyond the borders of your hometown. You can find adventure anywhere if you make an effort to go out and seek it. Of course, this is often easier said than done. That’s why Austa Clausen, a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist and author (and Uproxx writer!), created a tool to help people add spontaneity and exploration to their everyday lives.

Clausen recently launched her debut book, The Live Life Now List, which is designed to kickstart your social life. It offers over 325 fun-filled activities to help you make new friends, bond with your loved ones, and make the most out of every day no matter where you are.

“I’m not a long-term traveler,” Clausen notes. “After several days away, I love returning home and exploring my own city. It doesn’t hurt that being in New York there’s always something new and exciting to see at every turn, but I think the same really can be said about anyplace, as long as you approach situations with the right perspective.”

To help you fuel more fun into your daily routines, Clausen is sharing her expert guide to touring locally and her best tips for exploring your home city.

Live Life Now Book
Austa Clausen

What inspired you to create The Live Life Now List?

The idea for ‘The Live Life Now List’ was actually pitched to me by an acquisitions editor at Adam’s Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It felt surreal to be offered the opportunity. At the time I was working as a full-time journalist for Changing America by The Hill, covering the topics of diversity, equality, social justice, and more, while also freelancing for various outlets covering travel and lifestyle. I honestly reached a burnout point doing both at the same time for so long, and I was actually looking for a sign to show me what to do next when this opportunity came my way.

As someone who is used to covering other people’s stories, it was also a unique opportunity to draw from my own experiences and the things I love to do, and it feels really special to share that with readers.

What are three simple ways someone can step out of their usual routine and be a tourist in your own city?

There are tons of simple ways for someone to step outside of their usual routine. For those who work from home, I suggest working elsewhere at least once per week. You don’t need to be a part of a co-working space—try finding cafes that offer free WiFi, or hotel lobbies that will make you feel like you’re traveling when you’re really a 15-minute drive from home.

For people who tend to stick to going to the same restaurants and bars all the time, I suggest picking one favorite dish or cocktail, and making it your mission to find the absolute best in your city. If you love penne vodka from your usual joint, write a list of all the spots in town that serve penne vodka and find a new favorite!

Another easy way to be a tourist in your own city (while still avoiding tourist traps), is to ask your friends for all their favorite places—their go-to wine bar, their favorite museum, their favorite bench in the park, anything. You might be surprised at what they recommend! Then, use all your new suggestions to build yourself a fun weekend itinerary.

What would your advice be for someone who might be afraid to step out of their comfort zone in this way?

My advice would be to take baby steps and always go at your own pace. It’s awesome to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and that’s truly where you will grow the most, but in order to make a long-lasting change in your life, it can’t really be too abrupt.

If you wanted to get in shape you normally wouldn’t just start running for an hour every single day because that isn’t sustainable, and in a similar way I would encourage people who want to be more social and invite more fun into their lives to find gentle ways to nudge themselves out the door.

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What do you think is the greatest benefit of exploring local?

It’s amazing to go on a good bucket list trip once in a while (and I have a bunch of recommendations for them in the book!), but being real, you spend most of your time in your own town or city. Adventure shouldn’t only be relegated to special occasions and trips—it should be something that is integrated regularly into your life.

Exploring locally keeps you on your toes in multiple ways: it brings more excitement into your social life, but it also brings more internal joy and provides opportunities for having fun on your own as well. Your regular commute can become an adventure if you make it one, and a morning spent hitting the snooze button can take on new life as an opportunity to check out a new coffee shop or get some fresh air in at the park.

New York City
Luca Bravo – Unsplash

What might surprise someone most about touring their city?

There’s so much more to every town and city than meets the eye, and taking the time to learn about what it has to offer might surprise you. One easy way to surprise yourself is to learn more about the history of your town or city, and its individual buildings and squares. It’s easy to find information on nearly every building with a simple search, or kick it up a notch by taking a guided tour.

What kind of activity would you recommend for someone who wants to meet new people in their city?

There’s actually a whole chapter about meeting new friends in The Live Life Now List, but I think perhaps one of the most approachable options is to start going to events solo. This is a method that works for me all the time, as attending events with friends can sometimes serve as an unintentional signal to others that you aren’t open to meeting new people.

It’s a win-win situation if you choose an event, whether it be a club meeting or a happy hour, that you would have a good time at regardless of who shows up or who you meet. Also, I’ve noticed that energy can be really infectious, so when you enter a room with a light, open attitude, people will naturally be more drawn to introducing themselves and getting to know you.

What about someone who’s seeking a thrill and adventure?

Thrill and adventure could mean different things to different people, so I would probably ask someone to define what that means for themself first—keeping in mind both the little thrills and the big ones. Regardless of what adventure means to you, I think a key ingredient is spontaneity. Purchase tickets for that concert you’ve been wanting to see, say yes to a date with a new person, or maybe ask colleagues out for a last-minute happy hour after work. For a more physical thrill, try biking around a scenic part of your town or city at sunrise, finding a local hike with a rewarding view, or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with a dance class.

What resources can you suggest for finding new spots to visit in one’s hometown?

The best way to find new spots in your own city is to keep tabs on other locals. In ‘The Live Life Now List,’ I suggest seeking out and subscribing to newsletters by local bloggers, influencers, and publications. You’ll receive regular suggestions for fun happenings around your area, including events, meetups, sales, and more.

Live Life Now Book
Austa Clausen

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had exploring your own city?

I try to make memories every time I’m exploring my own city, but I especially love seeing it through a new lens when I’m showing it off to visiting friends. I always try to put together an itinerary for them based on their personal interests, rather than just showing them the typical tourist items, and it leads me to see my city from a different point of view!

Most recently I planned an NYC bachelorette weekend for one of my closest friends (who also lives in Brooklyn!), and it definitely made me feel like a tourist in my own city. From bopping around vintage stores in the afternoon and visiting a day spa to recuperate from a hangover to seeing a burlesque show at a venue I’d never visited before, it was as much an experience for me as it was for the girls who don’t live in the city.