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It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Surviving SXSW

Posted by on March 13, 2015

SXSW is in full swing, with SXSWedu wrapping last night. Thursday’s badge pick up for SXSWi was quiet, calm, and with almost no line. Today is a different story. Remember the 70’s Five Man Electric Band song “Signs?” Let’s just change that wording a bit and sing it together, “lines, lines, everywhere a line, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind….”  I always preach the obvious of playing nice, buy local, dispose of trash properly, and be polite, but here are a few more tricks and tips for happiness at the festival.

1. Plan your schedule, but leave plenty of room in it. You’ll need rest breaks. The fest can feel overwhelming and having a gap in your schedule of “must see/must do” events leaves you time to breathe, find a quiet space, refresh and refuel. My friends who attend annually swear by noise canceling headphones.

2. If you’re drinking adult bevies, be sure to have a cup of water for each alcoholic drink you quaff. Dehydration (and hangovers) are for newbs. Getting smashed at the fest is a social faux pas. Everyone has a smartphone and you really don’t want sloppy drunk photos of you circulating on social media.

3. Ladies, bathroom lines can be longer than waiting to get in to Rachael Ray’s Feedback party. If you have a minute and spy a restroom, take your opportunity. Also, mini-packs of tissue are easy to carry in even the smallest of purse, and come in handy, if you know what I mean.

4. Yes, there are charging stations and yes, there is #mophieRescue, where a St. Bernard will bring you a fresh battery, but having a portable power bank on hand is always a good decision.

5. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and walking offsets the food choices you’ll makes (tacos, barbecue, more tacos) but there’s no shame in your game if you need to take a Lyft, Uber, pedicab, taxi cab or bus. Don’t forget the official SXSW Shuttles, which this year includes a boat taxi. They are usually crowded, but patience is a virtue.

6. Wear comfortable shoes. Wear whatever feels good to your feet knowing that you’ll be doing a ton of walking and standing. Kudos to you if you’re that girl, the one who can bandy about in 4″ spike heels all day long without pain, but allow me to caution you that our downtown sidewalks are uneven in places, and may not be the friendliest to your fashionable footwear.

7. Always have a back up plan. That session you are super excited about? Yeah, that one? You aren’t the only one. Having a back up plan means your disappointment will be fleeting. I highly reccomend this panel.

8. Visitors, please spend your tourist dollars with locally owned businesses. Our restaurants, coffeehouses, bars, and shops thank you. Want a great Texas souvenir and you’re sober enough to veto the idea of a tattoo in the shape of our state? Venture out to the boutiques in the 2nd Street District, the tee shirt shops on Dirty 6th, or primo eclectic shopping along South Congress south of the river. Head over to Bookpeople for a cheeky “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas” Davy Crockett flask.

9. Get some sleep. You can’t give a credible pitch if you look haggard, and feel worse.

10. Socialize. Not everyone’s an extrovert, but this is one time when faking it means you’re making it. You’ll be surprised at how many interesting people you can meet when you step outside a venue for a moment of sanity saving calmness. At the very least, smile. Austin is a friendly city, but we’re wary of visitors who don’t appear to love our city as much as we do. The local cardinal rule of SXSW is for out-of-town/state/country guests to fall in love with Austin, and then go home. We promise to welcome you with open arms on your multiple return visits.

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