Apologies for the double-post, but this is a long and VERY important bit of information to know. This is your essential SXSW checklist.
It’s hard to know how to prepare for the 10-day marathon of sessions, shows and parties that is SXSW. Even after years of experience, the most seasoned veteran will find himself or herself without a critical element at a critical time. So, we’re going to provide a “what you might want on hand” guidebook to help get you through the days. Some suggestions are optional and others critical, but all will help you make the most of your SXSW experience.
Critical Have your smartphone charger cable and a plug
SXSW is taxing on every resource provided by a smart phone – keeping track of your schedule with SXSW’s app; discovering the trending events on social media; texting to coordinate friends and meet ups; taking notes; taking infinite pictures; and following Texas Lifestyle Magazine on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. With all the demands on your smartphone, having the ability to take advantage of nearby power outlets is crucial. Make sure that, when a power outlet appears, you’re ready to charge.
[Editor’s Note: If you can at all avoid it, please don’t ask bar or wait staff to plug in your phone for you. During SXSW, they are overworked, likely underpaid and this is one of the more annoying things they get hounded with or about during a time of free drinks and infinite egos. Unless you’re willing to tip a good $5 for each time you ask a bartender or waiter to charge your phone, please don’t do it. They’ll pour better drinks and be a lot friendlier if you don’t saddle them with yet another thankless responsibility during the most demanding time in their year.]
Critical Have a valid ID on hands at all times
From past experience, it is clear that this is one of the most critical elements of your SXSW experience. TABC is on heavy patrol and establishments are very interested in keeping their businesses operational and above board with the law. Don’t be offended if you’re asked to show ID, as there are literally thousands of people to keep up with during SXSW’s parties and events. The venues don’t know if you’re 21 or if you’re even legal to enter, so rather than leave it to their own discretion, they usually check IDs without exception. If you want to be flattered by the gesture, we recommend that, as well.
Critical Carry SOME cash on your person
Whether you need this for tipping, for the necessary pedicab, for the door fee or for the emergency call to your ride home when you’re out of charge on your smart phone, cash is king at SXSW. There are plenty of establishments and venues that will allow a card charge at the door or at the bar, but the ease of a cash transaction cannot be overstated. Add to this fact that it cuts down on the possibility of identity theft over time and it’s clear that cash on hand is a smart move.
[Editor’s Note: It’s wise to ask for receipts of all credit card transactions over this period of time. Unsolicited activity on your credit card or bank card is far easier to prove when you have detailed receipts from the places you actually spent money.]
Critical Have an alternate way to get back to where you’re staying
Spring Break and SXSW are officially designated “No refusal” weekends, which means that immediate warrants for blood tests are administered upon investigation of driving while intoxicated. That means the entire area is on alert for people who have enjoyed SXSW too much and potentially put others in harm’s way. DO NOT BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. Have a phone number written down or money for a cab or the number of sober ride or a ride-share app or enough money to pay for a room downtown. Whatever method you can employ, there is no excuse to have a great time and ruin it with the involvement of law enforcement or, worse, ruin the lives of others. So, guarantee that your great memories and greater stories are safeguarded from any situation that might ruin it.
Suggested Bring an external charger for your smartphone
Perhaps we’re stressing the import of your smartphone in the SXSW world. But, as this is our 10th year, collectively, to cover the festivities, we’ve run out of power at inopportune times far too often to ignore this. A wide variety of prices and models exist, but with Mophie having had such a presence at SXSW in the past, as well as in the world, we can’t help but suggest their case/charger or their power pack (which, with multiple outputs, could make you infinitely popular among fellow low-battery sufferers).
Suggested Bring wardrobe for at least a few climates
Austin weather is a fickle suitor, especially during SXSW. Rain, wind, cold and sweltering heat are all possible within the scope of one day, so be prepared for anything, within reason. You may find yourself scavenging for a raincoat or a pair of shorts, if you aren’t careful.
Suggested Bring business cards
Whether you are at SXSW for your job or just visiting as a personal development endeavor, it’s important to facilitate the contacts and networks you establish in the SXSWorld. To make this easy, one need only have business cards to put in the hands of those you meet. Conversely, you can have cards printed up from any number of service providers that will be sure to get you enough to hand out and get noticed. In fact, Moo.com partners with SXSW attendees to give them a discount, as well as creative and memorable way to get and keep a connection you make at SXSW. Whether your connection is a lead on your next professional endeavor or a new best friend you won’t be able to imagine life without, keeping in touch could not be easier than bringing these along.
Suggested Five Hour Energy or High Brew Coffee (x10)
Listen, you’re going to get tired. And the schedule might not relent as quickly as you’d like it to. There aren’t any naps built into the SXSW schedule (though the nap pods featured at right are a new temporary addition to the SXSW environment – thanks to Casper’s NapTour). If you want to avoid that dreaded disease, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), you’re going to need something to keep the party going. We suggest either the high octane and lasting effect of Five Hour Energy or the locally-brewed and delicious High Brew Coffee, which is less intense but provides just as much of a boost to your engine for SXSW.