Tips from a SXSW newbie

Words: Ben Daley
Last month we sent South By newbie Ben Daley to Austin’s 10-day media, music and film extravaganza. Here are his top Texan tips for making the most out of your time at SXSW

Avoid queues
There’s only 24 hours in a day, and the bars close at 2am sharp. Prioritise your time to ensure you get as much of the SXSW experience as possible – you’ll be able to sneak into the back of a full theatre to see anything important.

Pack light
The weather is fairly consistent, with the odd cloud or two, so pack light to keep comfy. If you’re worried that one of those clouds might unleash an unexpected sprinkle, grab an umbrella – those emergency ponchos are useless!

Cast a wide net
If it looks interesting, star it. If it doesn’t look interesting, star it anyway. You will be judged by how many different options you have in your schedule – it’s common practice to pull out your smartphone and compare lists with other attendees, so don’t get caught with a list that’s lacking. Got twelve things booked at 9:30am on Monday? Not a problem! These events are all nice and close together, so you can duck in and out of them to make sure you get a good sampling of everything.

Start hard
SXSW only goes on for 10 days so don’t let any opportunities to party pass you by! Some of the best shindigs go down on the first few nights, so make sure you get in early and fill your tank with free booze and burgers. Less experienced attendees might wait until later in the week to really give it a go, but you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you got more than enough tequila from Twitter to make up for those years of investing unsuccessfully in the platform.

Be careful who you talk to
The creative world is a cutthroat one, and the people here are all clamouring to get their hands on the next big idea so limit your enterprising thoughts to a few trustworthy people – bartenders, cab drivers and the occasional late night food vendor. Loose lips sink ships, or, in this case, get your ideas pinched.

Avoid local food options
This is a pretty obvious one – whenever you’re travelling, local food is always a bit risky. It might be less exotic but keep to the big chains and you’ll be sweet. There are plenty of options, from ihop to Maccas, so avoid the sketchy food trucks and eat safe – your tummy will thank you for it.

Ignore anyone with a list of tips for SXSW
Do your own thing, at your own pace. Everyone thinks they know what works best, but just stick to what works for you. Be organised, or wing it. Take nanna-naps, or stay up late partying. Eat the damn tacos from the #ArtOfTacos truck, or stick to Wendy’s. It’s SXSW, for f**k’s sake – there’s no wrong way to do it. Just do you.
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