Beyond Comfy Shoes and Extra Chargers: The Advanced Guide to Surviving SXSW

Beyond Comfy Shoes and Extra Chargers: The Advanced Guide to Surviving SXSW

SXSW Startup Village event, 2014

Image credit: SXSW
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Lots of people like to share tips for surviving SXSW, the annual tech, music and film festival that kicks off this week in Austin, Texas. Sadly, many of these articles say somewhat obvious things (Bring an umbrella! Wear comfortable shoes! Have an extra charger!).

I will assume that you’re grown and that you can figure some of that out on your own. That will clear the way for these tips from veteran visitors who know where to go, how to get things done and how to really make the most of the wonderful and chaotic event that is SXSW.

Related: How to Survive SXSW

Admit you need help.
With more than 1,100 official events just at SXSW Interactive, keeping track of where you’ve said you’ll be isn’t easy. Even if you have everything dutifully plugged into your Google calendar, it can end up looking “like a war zone,” says Rebekah Iliff, an exec at technology platform AirPR. Her solution is old-school with a modern twist: a virtual assistant. This person can be dedicated to keeping her organized, running what Iliff calls her “command central.” (If a virtual assistant isn't in the cards, the official SXSW app will help you keep track of events, navigate Austin and it will sync to your other devices.) 

Arrange pedi-cabs in advance.
Didn’t know you could do that? Now, you do. When even Lyft and Uber are urging you to share rides you know transportation is a challenge in Austin. While attending SXSW, Shoshana Bennett of virtual worker firm Zirtual rents pedicabs by the day and simply texts the company when she needs to be picked up.

Image credit: EasyRider

Bennett likes Easy Rider for this service, but we found that MetroCycleLab will also let you reserve a driver and there are likely others if you ask around and negotiate. (She also suggests hiring Courier Depot should you need something picked up or dropped off. That has nothing to do with pedicabs, but I thought I’d mention it).

Related: SXSW Keynote Offers Advice for Becoming Findable

Remember: It’s all about you.
Companies are fighting for your attention so make sure you take advantage. After all, isn’t that what other people are for?

  • Run out of business cards? TaskRabbit will bring you new ones, printed by Moo. (The cards are discounted and the delivery is free)
  • Hungry? Kevin Yu, CEO and founder of cooking app Sidechef, says his company will be touring the grounds to bring the tired and hungry much-needed protein bars.
  • Cut yourself with no first-aid kit in sight? Just tweet your distress to @3M and the company will bring you a bandage (or other 3M product) to get you back on track.
  • Need a custom manicure? Of course you do. You'll find them at Brazos Hall.
  • Honest-to-goodness St. Bernards will bring you a Mophie charger when your phone runs low.

Image credit: Moo

Get fit the SXSW way.
You simply must take time for yourself. Luckily, you have plenty of options. 

Peace, quiet and an adult beverage.
Alcohol is plentiful at SXSW, but quiet isn’t always. For something off the beaten path, try Buffalo Billiards, recommends Benjamin Goodman, a product and strategy exec at social content platform Heard. He says you’ll find a hodgepodge of locals, tired execs, drunks, filmmakers and SXSW attendees playing anything from pool to shuffleboard and that it is the “hidden gem of 6th Street.”

Have an escape route.
There is life outside Austin. Seriously.

Bennett suggests a relaxing hike while Zach Cohen, COO of digital marketplace Holonis, urges you to book a blissful Caribbean cruise for the day after the show. Having that in place, he says, “makes it easier to manage the chaos” of returning to work after the big event.  

What are we missing? Share the tip or trick that helps you master SXSW in the comments below.


Edition: November 2016

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