SxSurvival Tips – How to Have the Best, Safest SXSW Ever!
by Traci Marie Mondragon
SXSW is a marathon, not a sprint. Let that be your mantra from March 11-20. Your body, your friends, and your spirit will thank you. If you take nothing else away from this post, let it be that. Slow your roll. Stop and enjoy the week. Pace yourself!
Living, breathing, and going to the bathroom.
If you’ve heeded my other advice throughout this series, then you are well-equipped with a plan for loads of parties with free food, drinks, and amazing live music. You want to make the most of all this planning you’ve worked hard at! This means staying WELL throughout the week. This means:
- Load up on Emergen-C
- Wear sunscreen
- Drink WATER (one after every 1-2 boozey beverages)
- If a party has fruits/veggies available as part of their free snacks, eat them!
- Take sit-down breaks when seats are available
- A break could be as simple as sitting under a tree at one of those free parties, or going inside the convention center to cool off in the A/C (if it’s hot).
Speaking of the Convention Center… there are a TON of free, clean bathrooms inside! Most hotel lobbies also have lovely bathrooms, and because so many people are going in and out of all these downtown hotels, no one will stop you from using their facilities if you’re not staying there.
Pack the essentials.
- Photo ID (everyone ID’s during SX)
- Cell phone
- Phone charger, extra battery, and/or wireless/battery-powered charger
- Cash (preferably small bills for tipping)
- Credit/Debit card
- Refillable water bottle (there are water coolers all throughout the convention center also)
- Maps, schedules
- Light snacks
- (because I’m a super girlie girl) powder, lip gloss, eyeliner *optional
A cross-body bag or backpack can store all these items, as well as any swag you might collect throughout the day. Oh, and if you DO have a badge… DON’T be an idiot and keep your credit cards/photo ID inside the plastic badge sleeve. Taking that thing in and out of that is a great way to lose your badge, lose your ID/cards, or make it more difficult to scan your badge at official venues.
Getting downtown, parking, getting home safe!
If you’re driving yourself…
Give yourself about 2 hours to drive downtown, find parking, and get to where you’re going on time. No, this isn’t an exaggeration. Parking will be a nightmare, as will traffic in and around downtown.
A good tip for where to park, in regards to your plans for the day… park near where you plan to end your night. You’ll be so incredibly tired by 2am, especially if you’ve been out since before noon. It’s better to have a long trek at the start of your day, than at the end.
Many of the street meters will be wrapped up and only allow special permits to park by them, so don’t rely on where you “know” there is street parking. Garages may cost up to 5x as much as usual. So budget for parking, or be prepared to park much farther from downtown than expected.
Take Public Transporation!
If you just read the above, I might have scared you off from driving yourself. And while Austin isn’t exactly the most public transpo-friendly city, we’ve still got some great options.
Capital Metro runs later than usual during SXSW, and this site will help guide you to your destination with ease! Key tip if you live central/west: Highland Mall is pretty much shut down, and has a huge parking lot right across the street from a Metro Rail stop! The Metro Rail that also stops RIGHT in front of the Convention Center!
If you partied way too hard, use ride-sharing. GET HOME SAFE.