If you are new to Austin and kinda think you want to go to SXSW, but you haven’t made a plan, we’ll say this one time only: you will not have a good time. But if you’re wise, make a plan, and go prepared, you will really enjoy yourself. Here’s how we would handle this, were we a newbie in your position…
10.) For God’s Sake, Don’t Drive Downtown
Oh, you were hoping to drive on the roads? And find parking? That’s cute. Abandon all hope of using private transportation and catch an Uber or Lyft, use Cap Metro’s trip planner, or snag a bike from Austin B-Cycle.
9.) Be Wary Of The Train
During SXSW, the lovely train Cap Metro built for us becomes a petri dish of touristy curiosity, packed to the brim at every single stop with festivalgoers who figured it would be a good idea to stay in Round Rock or wherever it is they landed, because: “Oh, we can just take the train!” No, you cannot just take the train.
8.) Bring Earplugs And A Bag
If you’re going downtown, go prepared. And if hearing the sound of your newborn child at some point later in life is important to you, bring earplugs. Here’s Arcie Cola’s excellent SXSW survival checklist. Use it, know it, and make this thing look good.
7.) Have An Escape Plan
All good things must come to an end, and when you’re ready for your day at the festival to end, be ready to flee, know your escape routes, and have a crash landing spot in mind. A good meal is usually just the thing after a long day at the festival. These should do ya just fine.
6.) Make Sure The Bartenders Know You’re Local
Bartenders are not paying attention to you, they’re really watching thousands of dollars of tips pile up. So, when you do catch a bartender’s attention, tell ’em you’re local, show off some Austin branding of some kind, and if they’re cool and hook up the everyday drink prices, tip. Tip well.
5.) Play Smarter, Not Harder
Smartphone apps to use for navigating SXSW include SXSW Go and EventBrite. Or, if you’re really smart, you’ll be all over our massive, unofficial SXSW guide page, which is being updated all throughout the festival because we love you. (Yes, you.)
4.) Show Up Early
Does this need an explainer? Or do you enjoy waiting four times longer at the back of a 200-person queue? See also: No. 9 & 10 on this list.
3.) Make Money Off The Tourists
Austin is a great town for being a boss. Why not be your own boss and do something nice for the folks who are blasting so much money into the local economy? We may not have Uber and Lyft, but we do have Fasten and RideAustin. That’s a great place to start!
2.) Grinch Out At An Obscure Bar
Easier said than done. You might end up in the north pole (read: Pflugerville) before finding a spot that’s adequately mellow. See also: Bars south of Highway 71, but only some of them. (Rusty Cannon is where you’ll find us.)
1.) Avoid The Festival Altogether
Like #2, this one is also easier said than done. You should have stocked up on provisions. Perhaps it’s time for a day trip outside of Austin?