Monday, March 16, 2009

Rock Insider's Survival Guide To SXSW 2009

I'm freaking out. SXSW is just 2 days away and I am absolutely not prepared. I decided to write up a quick survival guide for those heading out to Tejas this week. This will be my 6th straight year attending the festival. Learn from my mistakes and come prepared!!


Day Pack
You will no doubt be on the go all day long and all night. It’s best to pack a day bag where you can grab items on the fly and have a place to store all the free samplers and swag you’ll get at events. Below is a list of things you should pack:

I lost my driver’s license my first year at SXSW and it was a nightmare trying to get home. Pack two forms of ID in separate bags. Passport and Driver’s License works.

Business Cards
Music industry professionals from all across the globe to SXSW in the hopes of networking with other professionals. Don’t miss out. Bring at least 50-100 business cards to pass out to people.

Computer Bag
I would die without my laptop at SXSW. Bring a padded laptop case because it will get josled around. If you have a white of black macbook pre 2007 be especially careful. All it takes is one gnarly spill and you can nick your hard drive rendering your precious laptop and giant paperweight.

Party Schedule
A lot of people are trying new fangled iPhone apps and schedules to plan their rounds in Austin. SXSW Sched is the best I’ve seen so far. Still, it’s always good to have a backup. Be sure to print out a master list of all the events you would like to attend plus contact information.

If there’s a party that requires an RSVP make sure your print out your confirmation and bring it to the event just in case your rsvp gets lost in the shuffle.

Any veteran of SXSW knows that when you’re constantly going all day and all night YOURE GOING TO GET SICK. Start the day off right with a heavy dose of Airborne to try and combat the blahs the best you can.

Comfy Shoes
You will spend the majority of the day walking and if you’ve ever tried to hail a cab at sxsw at 2am you know you’re better off walking back to your hotel. Save yourself the pain of having a huge open blipster by wearing your most confortable pair of shoes.

So far the weather forecast calls for temps in the high 70s and 80s with nightly lows in the 50s to low 60s. Normally you don’t need a large coat in Austin in March but it does get hot in the day and cold at night. Best solution – Wear layers. I usually do a tank top, light weight long sleeve shirt and a hoodie. Lightweight scarves can also do wonders.

You get a lot of flyers, business cards, and free stuff at SXSW. Having your own lanyard really comes in handy – especially if you’re doing SXSW this year sans badge.

Scalp burns are the worst. Bring a hat

Don’t be stupid. Pack earplugs. It’s loud. Even on the street and ringing in the ears is the worst.

Cure-all for aches pains, headaches, hangovers.

Blisters, cuts from scaling fences at exclusive parties, run ins with Pedi-taxis. Bring band-aids just in case

Throat Coat

I’ve been to SXSW 6 times and every single year I lose my voice by Friday. You’re constantly talking over loud music – even on the street. Save yourself the pain by bringing some Throat Coat tea and remember to drink PLENTY of water. I know FREE BOOZE flows down 6th street but you have to take care of yourself. Forgo the morning coffee and try tea instead.

Chaser Tablets
They never seem to work well with me but if you feel inclined be sure to pick up. There’s nothing worse than a raging hangover at SXSW.

Extra Undies

If you wind up crashing in a hotel room with a large group of people things are bound to go missing – especially the small stuff. Bring extra undies, socks, bras, etc.

Eye Care
I don’t know what it is about Austin in March but my eyes always are fire. Pick up a bottle of Refresh tears. Whatever you do STAY AWAY FROM VISINE. It makes it worse.

Contact Care

If you wear contacts be sure to pack your glasses, some travel solution, contact case, and extra lenses. My 2nd year at SXSW I forgot to bring extras and had a lens tear on day 1. I spent the rest of the trip 1 eyed.

Bring Sunglasses and get a sturdy case for them. You’ll probably have a lot of stuff in your day pack so things are bound to get broken. Make sure they block UVA rays

Sun Protection
It may be March but you can still get burned! Most day parties are on outside patios and you’ll spend a long time walking outside in the sun. Pack some sunscreen SPF 30 or higher. I really like Neutrogena’s sun stick. No mess and doesn’t mess with your skin.

Extra Cell Phone Charger

I somehow manage to lose my cell charger every year at SXSW. Pack an extra just in case. Make sure you charge it every night at the festival as well because usually every socket is in use in Austin with people powering laptops and charging phones on the fly.

Sleeping Bag
Hotels are usually booked months in advance and for a few of you that means sharing a single hotel room with 8 people. Bring a sleeping bag. Easier to pack and saves a lot of space in the van.

Bag for Receipts
Whether you’re going for work, to perform, or to look for a job SAVE EVERY RECEIPT. I like to bring a small change purse and every night I put the receipts for the day in a little plastic bag. When I get back to LA I immediately file them. Makes a huge difference come tax time.

Go Travel Size
Airport security are horrible when it comes to liquid restrictions. Save yourself the hassle of having to buy new face wash by packing a travel kit.

Memo Pad/Pens
Be sure to carry and memo pad and pens to write down info. Sometimes its easier than a smart phone.

Do I really need to explain myself here?

Cough Drops
Will save your life come Day Three


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Comments on "Rock Insider's Survival Guide To SXSW 2009"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 16, 2009 2:29 PM) : 



Blogger Kelsey said ... (March 16, 2009 3:00 PM) : 

Best guide I've read so far, especially the part about bringing 2 ids in different bags. Had to pay some homeless guy holding my license hostage 20 bucks last year... but damnit, I had a plane to catch!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 16, 2009 6:29 PM) : 

you forgot the part about the cocaine


Blogger Andrew said ... (March 17, 2009 7:50 AM) : 

You don't have these problems if you leave your laptop at your crash space - and the cellphone charge too, and charge overnight.


Anonymous aaron said ... (March 17, 2009 2:08 PM) : 

gr8 list ashley!
you forgot to add three bags of lemons and quart of maple syrup for the master cleanser diet you'll start when you get home!
have a safe trip!


OpenID fakebadtaste said ... (March 17, 2009 4:56 PM) : 

i'm afraid for the pacing yourself on booze part!


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