The SXSW Survival Guide

South By Southwest (SXSW) is a marathon not a sprint. Over ten long days and even longer nights, you’ll have to deal with erratic temperatures, ear-splitting microphone feedback, bad bands and “I’ll never drink again” hangovers. It’s enough to make you vow to never come again. We tell ourselves the same thing, but here we are again, drinking flat beer at a sauna-like concert hall that screams “stampede.” Despite what our ex says, we aren’t glutton for punishments, we just figured out a formula to beat SXSW. Sorry, but we can’t help you with the hangover.

Yes, Austin has Uber and Lyft and the downtown hotels offer shuttle service, but the best form of transportation during SXSW is a bike. Not only is it cheaper, but you can get around easier on two-wheels because traffic in and around downtown looks like a chaotic scene from a zombie outbreak movie. You can rent or "share" a bike from Austin B-Cycle, think lCitiBikes in New York, with easy-access stations all over downtown and surrounding areas. At night, if you’ve had one too many Flat Tires (ales), you can hop on one of the fleet of pedi-cabs.

Besides letting your loved ones know you’re alive by humble bragging one SnapChat at a time, you’ve also got to be plugged-in to keep with up-to-the-minute happenings around town. You can coordinate your schedule with the official SXSW app, while Austin360’s SXSW Side Party Guide allows you to search through hundreds of listings for unofficial events like secret shows and sponsored parties. Speaking of, you can also follow brands and bands on social media for latest swag giveaways and free concerts.

As you’re herded from venue-to-venue like cattle, you will undoubtedly run into mounted police. Take note, police horses are not your friend, as evidence by that grass landmine they just dropped on your pair of new Yeezy’s. In Texas, they’re actually considered officers of the law. So, don’t be a horse’s ass and try to pet them or worse, take a selfie. Not only do you risk getting kicked, but you could get arrested and spend a night in jail.

The only thing more valuable than a badge at SXSW is a portable phone charger. Not only will you become the instant life(saver) of the party, but your good deed should and could be rewarded with a free drink or maybe even a phone number from a Daisy Duke whom you brought back from the (phone) dead.

As we said, SXSW badges and wristbands are like gold. But, the truth is not all of us can afford them or have the inside connections to score one. The flip side is that there are plenty of ways to enjoy the festival without either one. For the entrepreneurial-types, all you need is a phone or computer to RSVP for certain events. Sign up for as many as you can, just to give you options. They’re free and no one’s going to track you down if you bail an event for a bigger one or a much-needed nap. Better to be on the list than not. If you want to avoid lines head down to Auditorium Shores where SXSW hosts gigantic, open-air concerts. Just get there with plenty of time to make it inside the gate because it’s a free event.

Skinny jeans and flannel shirts are the SXSW uniform, but you can never be too prepared for the Central Texas weather, which throws curveballs at you that would make Clayton Kershaw envious. It can go from sweltering heat to pounding rain at the drop of a hat so pack light, but smart. A pair of jeans, shorts, jackets, hats and comfy sneakers are standard protocol. If you want to fit in, wear vintage. If you need to pick up some second-hand clothes there’s some great boutiques on South Congress and Lo-Burn.

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