Although I am a local, I did not want to write a “Things To Do in Austin While You’re at SXSW” blog post. But I did want to offer valuable insight to the 27,000 people headed this way for the event before it kicks off next week. Here it is: The thing to do in Austin while you’re at SXSW is, in fact, SXSW.
The reason this hardly-an-epiphany merits a blog post is that the unique nature of SXSW — the fact that it’s expansive in every possible way including geographically, topically, demographically and programmatically — makes it almost impossible to avoid the pitfall of getting distracted, as well as spreading oneself out too thin.
Below is some advice from yours truly and excerpts for the best SXSW Survival Guide I have seen in EVER, mostly because it’s so very short and not really that sweet. Courtesy of TechCrunch.
- Attend Sessions. Do take the time to figure out your schedule and come eager to learn from speakers and share thoughts with peers. Because isn’t that first and foremost the whole point? Don’t kill yourself waiting in line to go to a party or feast at Franklin’s BBQ. You can always come back to Austin another time. Related: TechCrunch’s FOMO tip below.
- Keep It Real. SXSW is the perfect example of Austin’s wonderful ability to twist and transform into any shape imaginable. Last year, Nokia built a three-domed structure that occupied over 4,000 square feet of floor space and featured “immersive” projections and interactive visualizations. My point? Some brands are going to go over-the-top in a misguided attempt to “keep it weird,” but you’ll be better off sticking with those that keep it real.
- Put Your Feet Up. The SXSW Interactive Lounges will be great for that because they are strategically dispersed and they are designed to protect you from all the madness without you having to completely remove yourself. You may not get the chance to put your feet up on a chair… but sitting on the floor, with your back against the wall, sharing a charger with a fellow SXSWgoer is what it’s all about.
- Pack for the worst and hope for the best. We’re expecting rain over the weekend. This excerpt updated with latest weather forecast (see below).
- Take a night off. Pick your night, turn off your phone, and SLEEP.
- Pace yourself. The thing about Austin is that it’s cheap. Beer? $2.50. Wine isn’t too much more (…) But nights are long and we’re not as young as we once were. (DAMN IT.) Take your time, drink water between your (free) drinks and you’ll thank me later.
- F*ck FOMO. The only thing you’ll be missing out on by skipping that “hot” party with the gigantic line is serendipity.
- Grab a friend and go off-grid. Duck out and go hang out somewhere less crowded. This may result in an afternoon full of unexpected, pleasant conversations.
- Don’t wear your company’s brand on your shirt every day. Makes you look ridiculous.
- Exercise. Do it. There’s a running trail around Lady Bird Lake and likely an (empty) gym at your hotel. Even if you’re exhausted, a 30-minute workout will rejuvenate you.
- Say hello to a stranger on the street. Find out their story. Share yours. That’s what SXSW is all about. And I promise you, it’s not that hard.
- Advil. THE BIG BOTTLE.
If you’re not making it down to Austin for SXSW this year, you have none of this to worry about!