SXSW 2014 - A few tips from the expert (me)

I know it's a few months off, but if this is your first year attending SXSW, might I offer you a few tips for a fun and pleasurable time? Trust me folks, I'm a doctor.

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Never pass up the following:

  • A chance to recharge your phone.
  • A clean bathroom.
  • Free BBQ.
  • Free beer.
  • Earplugs.
  • Breakfast burritos.
  • All other types of burritos.
  • Free bottled water.
  • Free snack bars.



  • Standing under a tree full of grackles.
  • Parties with beer pong as the primary form of entertainment.
  • Start up parties = frat parties.
  • Pedicab drivers that ask you for directions. 
  • "The kids." It's Spring Break that week. Be thankful that St. Patty's Day isn't happening at the same time THIS YEAR. OMG. OMG.



  • Comfortable shoes. I'm not kidding.
  • See the bats. Everyday around sunset. Go. Just don't stand under where they come out. #poop.
  • Beers on Rainey Street.
  • Shopping on South Congress.
  • SXSJ.
  • Pedicabs.
  • Lunch/Dinner at Bangers.
  • Bring sunscreen, a hoodie, and an umbrella. Austin weather is insane in March with the winter/spring swap over. A few years back it was 90 one day and the next day it was 20.
  • Stubb's BBQ for dinner or a show.
  • Plan your day but be prepared to throw all your plans in the trash at a moments notice when something cooler comes along. This will happen 6 times a day. Embrace it.
  • The free bike rentals for badge holders are a quick way to get around.
  • Walk up and down Sixth street at 2am on a Friday or Saturday night.
  • Talk to total strangers. You never know who you might meet. I had a great chat with a guy in an elevator that turned out to be Guy Kawasaki, and I bumped into Lou Reed on the street.
  • Take advantage of all the SXSW badge perks. The free snacks and drinks tent across from the Convention Center is a great place to catch your breath and plan your day.
  • Drink lots of Jo's coffee.
  • When possible, sit down, you're tired.
  • Look for celebrities at the airport. They all come and go through here. I've seen so many random folks at the food court.
  • Death Metal Pizza.
  • A big glass of water and some aspirin before bed is never a bad idea.
  • RSVP TO EVERYTHING. Figure it out later.
  • Hi-Five every famous person you see. 
  • Take the Bus. The "Airport Flyer" runs directly from the Airport to downtown and back with just 2 or 3 stops. It costs $1. Do it. 



  • Wait in a line so long you'll never get in.  Move on quickly to your number 2 or 3 option. Get to your destination at least 15 minutes before it starts, earlier if you want to be 100% sure you get in. Sometimes you can stay through back-to-back sessions, sometimes they clear the room first. The badge line is the obvious exception.
  • Don't sleep. Seriously. You can do that when you get home. Go have fun. You can operate on 4 hours sleep for a few days in a row. Sleep on the plane ride home. 
  • Don't check a bag if possible. 10,000 people leaving Austin at the same time can make for a hell of a check-in line at the airport.
  • Don't grab too much swag like t-shirts and heavy stuff unless, like me you pack so light that you need the free shirts just to get through the week. If you HAVE to grab all that free swag, mail all your dirty clothes to yourself so you've got room in your bag. Hotels like the Hilton will take all your stinky clothes and put them in a box for you. They will stare at you disapprovingly, but they will make it happen.
  • Don't overpack. Austin is a modern city and you can buy anything you need.