March is here, and that means one thing and one thing only: South by Southwest (SXSW) will soon arrive, causing mass chaos in the streets of Austin, Texas. From Film, to Gaming; Interactive to Music, there’s so much to do, so much to see and so much swag to get for free. Where to begin depends on the badge type you’ve received through your company or purchased for yourself. If you’re a local, you probably invested in a music wristband to participate in all things music, as any Austinite should.
Regardless of where you stand in the grand scheme of SXSW, there are some tips of the trade to maneuvering your way through the maze that is downtown Austin with your sanity and belongings intact.
Anyone who’s told you to just wing the whole SXSW thing clearly has never been and/or has never seen what the city turns into the instant SXSW starts.
1. Have a Buddy System
There’s going to be a large number of individuals at this conference, and even more events than one could possibly fathom on their own. Your group isn’t necessarily going to want to go to the same places at the same times, and there’s no reason you should have to.
However, if you’re traveling with a company, it’s important to stick with a few members of your group and have designated meet up spots in case your phone battery dies (it will).
2. Bring a Portable Charger
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If you’ve ever been to a festival or conference of large stature, then this cell phone epidemic is nothing new to you. When there’s large crowds of people, it takes more effort on your phone’s part to find service (which it’s constantly searching for, by the way), inevitably killing your battery.
Don’t get stranded after seeing The Chainsmokers or lose your friends before the biggest interactive showcase of the year: pack a portable battery.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget the charging cable!
3. Make a Flexible Plan
Wandering around can be fun for half of a day, but to make it out alive throughout the week, you’re going to need to do a little more. Plan out ahead of time the days of events you want to attend and make a mock-map of them.
This map should involve the locations and times of each event, so that you can plan your days transportation accordingly.
SXSW also has an app via the App Store on both Android and iPhones where you can save your favorite events, and it’ll make a calendar for you. This is SXSW after all, take advantage of all that technology you’re surrounded by.
4. Prepare Your Feet
You’re about to trek across the city of Austin in ways you never have if you’re a local, and in a way you couldn’t imagine possible if you’re not from these parts. The events of SXSW are moderately spread out in no specific order, so you’ll likely be going from deep on the east side, over to the convention center, only to head back to the east side.
Oh, and that will happen more than once daily. If you want to look cute, by all means, wear those peep-toe booties you got last week on sale that you’ve been dying to bust out.
But if you want to make the most of your experience, make the most of your footwear. Pick a pair with the durability to last all day without discomfort, yet a small staple of style.
5. Attend the Parties
Whether they’re official or unofficial, the parties are a major part of the SXSW experience, and something you should partake in whether you have a badge/wristband or not. There are plenty of parties that the average joe can go to without badges or wristbands, too.
The best part of these parties is the free swag, food and drinks you’ll get from them merely for showing up. SXSW is a celebration of the new, the up-and-coming, the strange and everything in between.
These parties are a representation of that and then some. Plus, they’re just plain fun to go to with your friends and work colleagues alike. Get in line, get inside, and get your free on.