As promised, I’m back with part II in my series on how to survive SXSW like a pro with more SXSW survival tips.  Missed part 1?  Never fear: go here!

SXSW, otherwise to be known as my absolute favorite 10 days of the year, every year, is an annual convergence of technology, film, and music in Austin, Texas.  It’s 10 days of thriving on adrenaline and chaos.  It’s a beacon of creativity and innovation.  Drawing attendees from diverse industries worldwide, it’s unparalleled popularity can certainly be attributed to the dynamic blend of cutting-edge technology showcases, extensive list of film premieres, and my favorite – the off-the-beaten-path version of its music festival which celebrates and heralds unsigned and new artists.  I’ve photographed the likes of Lizzo, Sofi Tukker, and Mondo Cozmo all before they became well known.  There are happy hours.  There are panels.  There are pitch contests.  There is sports, beauty, health, wellness, tech and VR.  The atmosphere is frenetic and chaotic, fueled by the city’s cultural richness and the event’s open-minded spirit. I love every second. Until I don’t and then I sleep for 3 days.  Either way, Austin and the city transform into an exhilarating celebration of innovation, creativity, and the boundless possibilities that arise when diverse communities converge in the pursuit of shared passions. The result is an unforgettable and fun-filled experience and I’m here to help you not just survive, but THRIVE. Here are five more indispensable SXSW survival tips to ensure just that.

SXSW Survival Tips
1. Wear Comfortable Footwear

Actually, not only wear comfortable footwear but bring 3 very different types of shoes and wear a different one EACH day and never two days in a row!  For those who have never attended, you might be surprised to find that SXSW happens in venues ALL over downtown Austin.  In some cases there is up to a half mile difference from one location to another. Not only is comfortable footwear an essential SXSW survival tip, but changing the pressure points of said footwear each day will save you.  I might also point out that SXSW is quite hip (especially during music) so you might want to consider finding shoes that are both stylish AND comfortable. Long days walking and standing are no joke – be ready for whatever SXSW throws your way, because that thing it throws at you might just be on the east side!

SXSW Survival Tips
2. Utilize Public Transportation

As SXSW attracts crowds from around the world, navigating the city’s traffic can pose a significant challenge.  And traffic is one thing that Austin definitely has. To tackle this, consider the convenience of public transportation, ride-sharing, scootering, pedi-cabbing, or biking. These alternatives not only save you from the hassle of traffic but also provide a more sustainable and efficient way to move between venues. Planning your routes and utilizing these transportation options effectively can make your SXSW experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Personally, I use a multi-pronged approach to getting around.  You can purchase a relatively inexpensive 7-day fare pass for $11.25 from Cap Metro, Austin’s bus system. It does work quite well and I use it frequently when I’m in Austin for work. You can purchase your pass and plan your rides in their app.  Cap Metro does run late every night of the festival. I frequently take it home to avoid a dreaded $80 uber ride because of demand surges.

For distances to locations on the east side, South Congress, or the 2nd street/warehouse district, I purchase an unlimited multi day ride pass from Lime Scooter. There are a number of scooter companies in Austin to utilize this service from but please note that they will block off most of the Red River and 6th Street corridor from scooter use during SXSW.

I also snag a month long Metrobike Pass from BCycle for those downtown trips where scooters are not usable.  With stands up and down Red River and adjacent to the convention center, it’s a great way to get around without having to be responsible for a bike.

SXSW Survival Tips
3. Attend Diverse Sessions

While your primary interests may draw you to specific sessions, don’t limit yourself. SXSW covers a broad range of topics, and exploring sessions beyond your usual scope can be highly rewarding. I’ve met some incredible people wandering into events that simply seemed intriguing or weird. SXSW 2024 offers an entire track on psychedelics, you can hear a panel on how Looney Toons successfully brought it’s legacy brand to tiktok, you can catch a comedy show, or listen to a podcast recorded live.

SXSW Survival Tips
SXSW Survival Tips
4. Charge Your Devices

Staying connected is crucial during SXSW, where every moment could be an opportunity to network or capture a memorable experience. To ensure you don’t miss out, come prepared with portable chargers and power banks. These devices can be lifesavers, especially during long days when outlets might be scarce.

Efficiently managing your device battery ensures you remain plugged into the vibrant atmosphere of SXSW without interruptions and don’t forget to plug everything in when you get home at night, no matter how exhausted you are! Make sure you pick up a portable charger or 2 and bring a outlet cord for your phone that will give you the availability to charge during happy hours or sponsored dinners when you have a chance to sit down and put your feet up for a minute or 60.

5. Follow Official and Unofficial Channels

Back in the day we got three different over the should reusable bags and paper schedules. In today’s version of SXSW we are a bit more green (or as green as an event of this size can attempt to be) and everything you need is in your pocket in the SXSW app. Connect with the official SXSW social media channels and make the most out of your week – these platforms provide real-time information, allowing you to adapt your plans accordingly. Following official channels ensures you’re in the loop, making your SXSW journey more informed and enjoyable.

There’s more than just SXSW official though – for those of you without badges (and those with) there are a ton of unofficial ways to also get the haps on the 512.  Those include the newly relaunched Ausnio, dedicated to all new things from Austin to San Antonio, which has fun graphics and a great map for SXSW events on their site. Do512 is always a reliable source for all things Austin and they generally have a comprehensive party guide between their website and their Twitter account.  The Chronicle is an Austin staple and they feature a dedicated SXSW section each year. And for all things officially unofficial, follow these guys.

SXSW Survival Tips

I promise you that if you follow my guidelines and SXSW survival tips, you too will not only be able to embrace all that SXSW has to offer, but find it as exhilerating as I do.  But don’t forget – eat real food and drink water!

I want to hear from you! Share your own SXSW survival tips and experiences, and don’t forget to explore the links provided for additional resources, official channels, and the official SXSW app. Here’s to an unforgettable SXSW experience!